Lawyer John Walker has written a letter distributed to the Little Rock School Board that indicates that the Hathaway real estate firm has refused his FOI request for its records relating to work done for the Little Rock School District on real estate matters. He's pressing for discussion on the issue at the School Board meeting tonight.
The real estate firm may be correct in its legal reasoning that it need not be responsive to an FOI request from Walker, as a private agency. But there is no doubt or argument that all records relating to work for which it was paid by the Board should be available to the school district and then available to the public under an FOI. Given the reality, fighting Walker only prolongs a battle he relishes. What's to hide? Resisting disclosure only lends credence to Walker's suspicions. When you do work for a public agency, you should expect it to be open to the public.
A conflict pulls me away from School Board TV tonight. Should anyone else watch, please report.
UPDATE: The development at the meeting was that School Board member Baker Kurrus said a company in which he was a partner would not deal with the School District on a piece of land Hathaway had identified as a potential site for a middle school. The company had already let an offer for the land lapse without response. Kurrus had said the district's interest was a surprise to him. He said Thursday that he didn't want to even present the potential for appearance of conflict by seeing the district follow a state process that lets the state Education Department review transactions that involve board members. No deal. Also, he sent a note to board members responding to Walker's letter on the FOI matter. It's on the jump.
BAKER KURRUS LETTER:
Please forward this to all concerned, including Mr. Walker.
I have reviewed Mr. Walker's latest letter regarding the obligation of the Hathaway Group to respond to his request under FOIA. I will leave the substance of that dispute to them. I think the case turns on whether The Hathaway Group is the custodian of public records, as the agent of the school district. Probably not, but a court may need to decide.
I haven't a clue about the general aspersions Mr. Walker casts in my direction. For the record, I dispute these things, to the extent I can make sense of them. I would like this to be a continuing objection, so that I do not waste any more time responding.
Thanks, and call if you have any questions of me.