If only there were a fairy godmother ushering poor government workers through the arduous task of responding to public records requests. Unfortunately for the city and county of San Francisco, and lots of upstanding local governments like them, no such creature exists (as far as we know).
Not even for “voluminous” requests, as San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera termed one made more than a year ago by Prison Legal News and its lawyer, Sanford Jay Rosen of Rosen, Bien & Galvan.
With a voracious appetite for documents unsated by Herrera’s office, the monthly magazine today sued the city and county of San Francisco, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, the sheriff, and Herrera in San Francisco Superior Court. They just want their documents, people — how hard can a little bit (and by “little bit” we mean “an alarming amount”) of photocopying be? Shouldn’t there be a law governing this?
How to drive Dennis Herrera nuts, after the jump.
In July of last year Prison Legal News, a nonprofit monthly magazine dedicated to prisoners’ rights, asked for all documents relating to tort, over-detention, and civil rights claims filed by prisoners, contractors, employees, and/or visitors at San Francisco jails. The sheriff’s department forwarded the request to the city attorney’s office. Something went awry because four months later, when Prison Legal News checked up on the request, the city had no record of it. The office sent the magazine a spreadsheet with settlement amounts for 722 cases, but the magazine has since sent an updated request, which it says the city hasn’t responded to.
Thus ensued a nearly year-long exchange of letters including one by a pretty grumpy-sounding Herrera. We can’t really blame him; we envision unhappy city workers trudging through towers of moldering records, opening boxes, closing boxes, moving boxes. Sigh.
Prison Legal News wants an answer. “The public has a right to know how their tax dollars are being spent,” Rosen said in a press release.
Asked about the lawsuit this afternoon, a deputy press secretary for Herrera said they hadn’t had time to review it and didn’t have a comment.
— Kate Moser