The Sebastian County prosecuting attorney will not press charges against city officials who he said violated the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), according to a news release.
In a Monday letter to the Board of Directors, Prosecuting Attorney Dan Shue said FOIA violations occurred in August emails when some of the directors discussed via email possible actions they could take after the Civil Service Commission denied a request from the police chief and again in May when Directors Andre Good, Keith Lau and Mike Lorenz discussed via email a settlement offer from attorney Joey McCutchen, who had filed a FOIA lawsuit concerning the May email exchange.
Shue stated in the letter that “if there is another occurrence of ‘conducting public business in this fashion’ the Sheriff’s Office and my office will be compelled by the law to take further action” and that he agrees with the Sheriff’s Office report that “FOIA training still appears to be relevant to the issue at hand.”
FOIA training for the Board of Directors is planned for the Sept. 26 study session, City Clerk Sherri Gard said.
Good said he was briefly trained on FOIA when he came on the board nine years ago and that former City Administrator Ray Gosack would let directors know if they were “tinkering on the line of FOI.”
Lorenz previously told the Times Record that he had not received any FOIA training.
Lau said that he has received FOIA training and read the FOIA handbook.
“I respect Daniel Shue very much,” Lau said, adding that he appreciates Shue’s opinion.
Lau sees the law as somewhat vague when it comes to electronic communication such as email and social media, he said.
The city’s attorney Jerry Canfield issued a letter to Shue on Tuesday stating that the city disagrees with his opinion that the emails constituted “meetings” in violation of FOIA.