Rutledge approves form of four-year term for county officials; also rules on FOI access | Arkansas Blog

Monday, November 30, 2015

Rutledge approves form of four-year term for county officials; also rules on FOI access

Posted By on Mon, Nov 30, 2015 at 4:43 PM

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge signed off today on the form of a proposed constitutional amendment to give county officials four-year, rather than two-year terms. It's the idea of David Dinwiddie of Pine Bluff, who also proposed the idea two years ago, but it didn't make the ballot. It's an idea that has been kicked around by sheriffs, too, since at least 2008. In 2014, Dinwiddie said he didn't have resources to circulate petitions, but county officials should do it.

And speaking of opinons: Rutledge issued one today responding to questions from Sen. Jeremy Hutchinson about how quickly public officials must respond to requests for public information stored on computers and cell phones. I invite other fans of the FOI and ready access to read this opinion. I think it moves strongly in the direction of concluding that virtually all public records may be deemed to be in storage and thus subject to a three-day delay in production. I happen to think storage means placement in a place removed from normal ready access. The attorney general apparently does not. This opinion will create some unnecessary foot-dragging by recalcitrant public officials I'm pretty sure.

From the opinion:

We can distill the foregoing rules into the following propositions:

Generally, custodians must disclose nonexempt public records at the time a citizen makes the request. But if the records are in active use or storage, custodians have three business days to disclose the records.

Most records are in active use or storage.

Custodians should not adopt a policy of waiting, as a matter of course, to disclose records on the third business day.[4] The text of the FOIA requires that the record to disclosed “within” three business days. The custodian should seek to disclose the record as soon as practicable within the three-day window. 

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