Leech City has launched a new blog series, “Clever or Criminal?”, to explore whether slimy actions by local officials represent clever letter-of-the-law dodges, or cross the line into criminal behavior. On tap for today’s post in that series is a dodgy response to our previous test-case open records request that we outlined for you as an example in this post. Manassas’ behavior is certainly more consistently bizarre than anything we’ve encountered before anywhere else, rabid golf-community homeowners’ associations included. But, maybe we’re just exposing them to the light more than others, and most local officials are this way. I hope not. If most local officials are like this, we’re doomed as a nation.
And by the way, as pointed out at the bottom of today’s Leech City article, the most recent certified letter from our attorney was never signed for, after fifteen days, and is now going back per USPS policy. For those of you tracking the progress of this letter as an office pool, check out the USPS site for yourself.
What we are encountering is a curious tug-of-war. On the one hand, all of this falls into the category of public interest; anything a public official does in an official capacity is fair game for reporting. On the other hand, if some of this stuff is truly criminal, then should it be exposed and taint a potential criminal investigation? Or, if local officials are in collusion and would quietly protect their buddies, would there even be a criminal investigation if it wasn’t exposed? Will there be one if it is? Also interesting is at what point the good faith defense breaks down in the face of a consistent pattern of dodgy behavior. Without exposing the individual incidents, it is impossible to see the patterns to judge whether good faith applies.
What I think is fair, however, is to present the facts of what they have done, present a layman’s perspective of what may be relevant statutes, and compare the two. As usual, we aren’t making any demands on future behavior (other than our usual expectation that they obey relevant law), merely presenting the historical record and its implications.
So, tune in and watch as we play America’s newest local civil affairs game show:
“Clever! Or! Criminal!”
(cue glitter and orchestra music)
I’m your host, Tom Velour.