Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

July 13, 2012

Fiscal Court kicks can with appeal

Glasgow Daily Times

GLASGOW — The Barren County Fiscal Court kicked the can down the road last week. How so? By voting to appeal the attorney general’s ruling on private investigator Michael Ober’s full report.

The attorney general’s office agreed with the Glasgow Daily Times’ contention that Ober’s full report is a public record, even though the fiscal court does not have physical possession of the document. On May 1, Ober gave a summary of his investigation during the public meeting. Afterward, the court voted to have Ober give his full report to the Federal Bureau of Investigation instead of him handing it to them. They believed if they did not have the report, it would not be subject to Kentucky Open Records Act.

Prior attorney general’s rulings had concluded it was not where a record is held, but who has ownership that makes it a public record. Since the fiscal court paid Ober $3,500 in public money and signed a contract with him that stated he would produce a written report and give that report to the fiscal court, then the full report is the property of the people. Therefore, it is subject to public scrutiny.

County officials have argued, through County Attorney Jeff Sharp, that they cannot produce for inspection a document that they do not possess. They have further stated efforts to contact Ober in order to obtain the full report have not been successful.

Finally, they have also stated if they must go to court in order to compel Ober to give them the document, it will be an undue hardship on the county.

That conclusion is baffling since county officials are willing to go to court in order to fight the attorney general’s ruling.

Saying one court action would be a hardship and voting to go to court to delay the release of the record is the kind of logic that brought us to this day. Another day that wastes more money. Plus, there is little chance the county will win the appeal and so, what they are truly doing is delaying the inevitable. They are kicking the proverbial can down the road.

The attorney general stated the fiscal court might get the document from the FBI, if Ober has actually delivered it. The members did vote to pursue that clear avenue. Let’s hope it is successful before our elected representatives travel this hazy path they’ve been on since January any farther.

Our View serves as the view of the editorial board of the Glasgow Daily Times.