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Friday, April 07, 2017

Ind. Gov't. - "New Albany violated public access law three times on Mount Tabor Road requests"

Elizabeth Beilman reports in the New Albany News and Tribune (here reprinted in Indiana Economic Digest) in a long story that begins:

The city of New Albany has violated the Indiana Access to Public Records Act on at least three occasions in the past year by missing deadlines on records requests made by residents of Mount Tabor Road.
Property owners along the road that is undergoing the city's restoration project said they weren't able to get information in enough time to present educated counter-offers to buyers through the process of eminent domain.

Now, the city has filed condemnation against their properties. When the purchase price is negotiated in court, these residents worry they won't have the facts needed to back their cases, and are unsure what the city's final plans for the project entail.

"We can't do a true business agreement without knowing what we're getting into," said resident Kelly Feiock, who lives on the corner of Mount Tabor Road and Klerner Lane.

Feiock is one of three property owners along the corridor who have filed complaints with the Indiana Public Access Counselor's office. In some cases, though not all, the office ruled the city violated the law. One other property owner has not submitted formal complaints but has indicated the city didn't follow public access law in response to his request.

Later in the long story:
Indiana's public access law doesn't offer much recourse for violations. Oftentimes an official violation declared by the public access counselor is enough to motivate governments to comply. But if that doesn't happen, the next course of action is to sue.

"It's like everybody out here is trying to get an answer, and the city won't talk to you," said Dennis Feiock, Kelly's father who lives down the street. "You go to the state and the state says, "City, give them the information' — and we still won't get the information."

ILB: BTW, HB 1523, the bill that, per the digest:
Allows a state or local government agency (agency), with certain exceptions, to charge a maximum hourly fee for any records search that exceeds two hours. Prohibits, with certain exceptions, an agency from charging a fee for providing a public record by electronic mail.
passed the Senate with amendments yesterday, April 6th,and has been returned to the House. As of this writing, it is awaiting further action.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on April 7, 2017 01:25 PM
Posted to Indiana Government