Local Man Files Suit Over Access To Encinitas Records
Kevin Cummins Says He Should Have Access To Records Relating To $2.8M Report On Roads
1:19 AM, May 21, 2011
An Encinitas man is fighting for access to records that relate to a $2.8 million consultant's report for the city of Encinitas.The report details the city's road structure and what needs to be done to make the necessary repairs. It was finalized in September 2010 but submitted to city staffers six months earlier.Encinitas resident Kevin Cummins asked the city for access to the report submitted in March and for all related documents leading up to its acceptance by the Encinitas City Council. Cummins said he was denied."It looked to me like they were going to let this thing sit on the shelf because there was some embarrassing information in it," Cummins told 10News.Cummins believes that under the California Public Records act he and all taxpayers in Encinitas should have access to the documents. He took his concerns to a watchdog group called CalAware and together they filed a lawsuit on Friday that seeks access to the documents that the city of Encinitas would not release to him."It's our government," said CalAware attorney Dennis Winston. "It's the people of Encinitas' money. Yes, they voted for the City Council, but it doesn't mean the City Council gets to say, 'You people are just an irritant. Get out of the way and let me do my job.' It's the people's money and they are entitled to find out why [the] government makes spending decisions."Attorneys for the city of Encinitas disagreed."What's to be gleaned from releasing these draft documents as opposed to what the harm can be?" asked City Attorney Glenn Sabine. "What can be gleaned from those draft documents can be gleaned from the final document; more so because it's accurate."Sabine also questioned the use of social media that allows preliminary documents to be sent out on blogs and websites though they are not a finished product."Let the staff do its job," he said.Assistant City Attorney Greg Lusitana said releasing draft documents can create problems for staff."The city needs to be able to have a decision-making process free from second-guessing by public questioning of funding options," said Lusitana. "Let them get to the process where they can prepare a draft that then gets submitted to council and then that's when the public review process takes place."Judge Timothy Casserly on Friday asked many questions of both sides and said, "I see this as a very close case."Casserly did not say how quickly he will make his decision but any decision will likely be appealed to a higher court.