Arizona public records laws are a worthless piece of sh*t?
On paper the Arizona Public Records laws are some of the best in the nation. Government bureaucrats are required by the law to give you the records you request as SOON AS POSSIBLE.
But in reality the Arizona Public Records laws are a worthless and toothless piece of sh*t. If a government bureaucrat tells you to f*ck off and that you can't have your public records there are no criminal or civil penalties for the government bureaucrat. Nada, zippo, nothing.
You can't call the cops or some other government agency and complain and get them to force the govenrment bureaucrat to give you the records you want (well except in one case and we will get to that later).
Your only recourse is to sue the government bureaucrat with your money. And if you win, the judge MIGHT, and I say MIGHT, tell the state agency to pay your legal costs.
There is a worthless Arizona agency which the royal Arizona rulers passed to pretend to help you think you have access to public records
Arizona Ombudsman OfficeIf Sheriff Joe or some other government bureaucrat tell you to f*ck off when you ask for public records the "Arizona Ombudsman Office" will pretend to help you get your public records.
Legally, the folks at the Arizona Ombudsman Office can't do jack sh*t other then ask the agency you are complaining about to give you the public records you want.
If Sheriff Joe or some other government bureaucrats still refuses to give you the public records you want the Arizona Ombudsman Office, will then write a worthless letter to the Arizona Governor saying Sheriff Joe or some other government bureaucrat refused to give you your public records request.
That's it the Arizona Ombudsman Office won't do anything else. YOU will have to Sheriff Joe or some other government bureaucrats in court for the public records you want.
Public-records law can fall prey to ignorance
Michael Squires, The Republic | azcentral.com 3:56 p.m. MST May 4, 2015
Republic reporters Dennis Wagner and Yvonne Wingett Sanchez visited the Attorney General's office last week to review public documents that deal with one of the biggest Arizona news stories in recent years.
I won't get into what the documents contain. You'll likely read stories soon based on the information culled from them.
Instead, I'll tell you how their misadventure illustrates the needless roadblocks and delays we often encounter securing public records that are key to the kind of accountability journalism we strive for in The Republic's News Watchdog Center.
Wagner and Wingett had planned to use their smartphones to photograph the documents. Reporters routinely snap photos of the paperwork they've requested or, when the task calls for it, use portable scanners to vacuum up the information.
But the official they were dealing with this time, Terry Harrison, with the Attorney General's Liability Management Section, said they would not be allowed to take pictures. Instead, the reporters would need to mark the pages they were interested in and the office would copy them — for a fee.
The reporters protested, noting an Attorney General's opinion, no less, had in 2013 clarified that agencies should not charge for documents duplicated using personal devices.
Harrison dug in, insisting the issue wasn't up for debate. If the reporters didn't like it, well, they should call their attorney.
The reporters did. Hours and some lawyer fees later, Wagner and Wingett left with the records on a thumb drive, at no charge.
The situation highlights the arbitrary approach some in government take to public records. A photocopy was acceptable, but an iPhone photo wasn't? How about a manual typewriter? Or stone tablets?
The state and an agency may have established policies, which Wagner and Wingett cited in this case. But when an employee thinks otherwise, suddenly the noble intentions of the public-records law are thwarted by their understanding — or lack of understanding — of the law.
To their credit, once others in the Attorney General's Office were alerted to the problem, they clarified the issue in a letter.
"General Brnovich sees transparency and accountability as a hallmark of his administration," Ryan Anderson, the office's communications director said in the written statement. The new AG has not changed the standing opinion on copying documents, Anderson said.
That's good news. But is everyone in state government paying attention?
I'm told that during the 1990s, the solicitor general held periodic classes for state employees on public records and the open meeting law.
Seems like it's time to bring that back. Some are in desperate need of a refresher course.