by Max Brantley
Pulaski County sends word that, at long last, it's going to release the e-mail files of Ron Quillin, the former county comptroller who pleaded guilty to embezzlement. We'll be heading down to pick up the disc before long. A hat tip to the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which spent an untold sum pursuing this case to its certain conclusion at the Arkansas Supreme Court on account of county officials' decision to serve private interests over the public. Without the court case, the county wouldn't have released the files.
UPDATE: We've given the file a quick once-over. Lots of photos. Of him. Of his former girlfriend Cheryl Zeier, vice president for customer relations for the company that provides the county with computer services. Of clothing and jewelry he'd like to buy for her. Of friends. Of his grandkids. Of his dog. Lots of notes about travel arrangements for trips when the two planned to meet. Dozens and dozens of sweet nothings back and forth (the file is divided into notes to and from Quillin and gal pal). A fair amount of explicit sweet nothings. Some notes about county computer services, but most seem routine and, as yet, they haven't raised immediate questions about the propriety of the relationship between the county and the girlfriend's firm.
Bottom line: Quillin spent a lot of energy, time and money -- on the county's dime -- on matters that had little to do with public business, including using the cover of business for personal get-togethers. And that, of course, is why the records had to be open.
Among other intimate notes, there's an extended explicit e-mail from Quillin imagining a sexual encounter that undoubtedly contributed to the reluctance of some Supreme Court justices to open these files. Tell me your thoughts on the public release of such on the Internet.