Quorum Court hijinks | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Quorum Court hijinks

Posted By on Tue, Jul 8, 2008 at 6:12 AM

Look in on the Pulaski County Quorum Court any given week and you can expect to find stupidity, particularly when matters include legal advice from County Attorney Karla Burnett. Burnett has utter disdain for the public -- remember her effort to keep the public from seeing public records of the felonious former county comptroller? And don't forget when she barred a citizens group from a meeting about how county government intended to give away the ranch to developers in the Lake Maumelle Watershed.

Now she's thrown in with JPs Steve Goss and Alan Kerr to to make on-line access of public records nearly impossible. She tells the Democrat-Gazette that she believes their idea to charge a confiscatory fee to view records on-line is legal. 50 cents for the first page. 25 cents for each succeeding page! Absurd. The county clerk's budget is little different now than when they weren't putting records on-line, so it's clear the cost of putting the millions of pages on-line doesn't approach an infinitesimal fraction of that cost. Public offices may only recover the cost of providing copies of public documents. Copy machines clearly have cost. Scanning pages for digital preservation is not a cost of making the records available for the public. If this fee were to stand, you could just as easily impose a per-page charge to visit the clerk's office to peruse, not copy, public files.

This proposed fee is a pretext to shut off the convenience of Internet public access. It responds to a virtually non-existent problem -- the potential that identity thieves might set off on needle-in-haystack searches for the odd Social Security number that has slipped into public records despite rules against their inclusion. As we know well, there are far easier ways to get personal information by going after information caches where vital personal information is universally collected -- retail clerks copying credit numbers, hospital employees rifling files, etc.

Clerk Pat O'Brien is standing up for common sense and the public in this matter. But he'll need some support against this bunch.

PS -- In the federal courts, where case files can become enormous, I've long chafed at the fee charged for some of the access -- eight cents a page. But, even there, you get some free access to files, including a free look, if not download, of new decisions and initial filings.

From the ArkTimes store

Favorite

Comments (6)

Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-6 of 6

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Who you gonna trust? Not GOP politicans on health care

    Gov. Asa Hutchinson keeps insisting that the Graham-Cassidy Obamacare repeal will be great for Arkansas. Evidence keeps mounting that it will strike the state (meaning Arkansas human beings) a devasting blow.
    • Sep 21, 2017
  • Death reported of Robert Johnston, former legislator and homeless advocate

    In a cruel coincidence, a new development in the city's ongoing struggle with how to deal with the homeless came the day of news of the unexpected death of Robert Johnston,  a tireless advocate for the homeless in a long career of public service.
    • Sep 21, 2017
  • Alternate homeless feeding plan falls apart

    A plan to establish a volunteer effort to feed homeless in the far southeastern corner of the city, well removed from downtown, has fallen apart as was inevitable.
    • Sep 21, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Auditor Lea caught not telling the truth

    State Auditor Andrea Lea, who began her tenure in statewide office with a degree of competence unseen in some other Republican counterparts (think Treasurer Dennis Milligan particularly), is becoming more deeply mired in a political scandal.
    • Mar 4, 2016
  • Another Republican miracle-working governor

    Great piece in Washington Post on the budget crisis in Louisiana. Big tax cuts and corporate welfare will do that to a state, particularly to a state whose previous governor, Republican Bobby Jindal, refused to join the Obamacare-funded Medicaid expansion. There's a lesson there for Arkansas.
    • Mar 4, 2016
  • Judge Griffen: Why black lives matter

    Another few words from Judge Wendell Griffen growing from the controversy over the sale of Black Lives Matter T-shirts at the state black history museum — removed by the administration and restored after protests from Griffen and others stirred by a story in the Arkansas Times:
    • Mar 13, 2016

Most Shared

  • ASU to reap $3.69 million from estate of Jim and Wanda Lee Vaughn

    Arkansas State University announced today plans for spending an expected $3.69 million gift in the final distribution of the estate of Jim and Wanda Lee Vaughn, who died in 2013 and 2015 respectively.
  • Bad health care bill, again

    Wait! Postpone tax reform and everything else for a while longer because the Senate is going to try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act one more time before September ends and while it can do it with the votes of only 50 senators.
  • Sex on campus

    Look, the Great Campus Rape Crisis was mainly hype all along. What Vice President Joe Biden described as an epidemic of sexual violence sweeping American college campuses in 2011 was vastly overstated.

Most Recent Comments

Blogroll

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation