by Max Brantley
I can't judge this case, but I do believe that public officials will continue to play games with the Freedom of Information Act if there are never consequences for those who act in bad faith.
So, this case developing in Fayetteville could be important.
Marilyn Heifner, executive director of the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission, has been placed on paid leave while a prosecutor investigates whether she violated the FOI. The Northwest Arkansas Times had asked her about a deal to sell the old postoffice in Fayetteville. She was, to put it mildly, not fully forthcoming. Her fallback is that she fully complied once she received a written FOI request. The law does not require a written request for public documents.
FYI: The law wasn't written for reporters. It was written for the public — every citizen of Arkansas.
PS — All references here are to the Arkansas FOI law. The federal law is more complicated and, as reader bopbamboom noted, it DOES require written requests for records.