To the editor:
The public has a right to know. That is a foundation of our democracy.
As a former newspaper reporter, I strongly believe in transparency and freedom of information.
And as City Clerk, I can assure you that our office does everything possible to comply with ALL legitimate requests for public information.
I also believe that the taxpayers have the right to know that these requests cost staff time and taxpayer money.
Here are two examples:
A public records request dated 1/15/2019 required 289 hours of dedicated staff time to complete. The cost to the taxpayers for fulfilling this request was $27,514.02
A second public records request from the same individual dated 3/14/2019 was completed in early June. This request required 48 hours of dedicated staff time, at a cost to taxpayers of more than $4,000.
Our mayor and council and our citizens need to know these figures… especially when they involve voluminous requests for any and all documents, rather than requests for specific information. For example, just one of the requests I mentioned totals more than 18,000 pages.
Our citizens also need to understand the difference between legitimate requests for public information and voluminous, blanket “fishing expeditions” like those cited above which cost taxpayers thousands of dollars every year.
I want to thank our Deputy City Clerk Nicole Wheelwright and other city staff who work very hard to fulfill all these requests.
Steve Mehlman, Beaumont City Clerk