PUBLIC INFORMATION — Yesterday
Dawn Theodora, an attorney with the office of the Chancellor of the California
State University (CSU), told a telephone press conference that what she called confusion
concerning the attempt of Californians Aware (CalAware) to inspect records
concerning Gov. Sarah Palins planned speech at CSU Stanislaus next month began
with CalAwares first request for those records. There was
no confusion on CalAwares part.
There was, however, protracted avoidance on the part of the University. This chronology should make that clear.
first letter to CSU Stanislaus President Hamid Shirvani requested to inspect all
University records, other than those specifically prepared for public release,
concerning the planned appearance of Sarah Palin as guest of honor at the
Universitys 50th Anniversary Gala on Friday, June 25.
Theodora said in her statement yesterday, The campus understood the request to be
for non-public records and for records solely used, owned and maintained by the
Foundation. We provided a timely response to this request on April 6 stating
the University had no records pertaining to the request and that the Foundation
was handling Palin's appearance.
response was signed by Gina Leguria, Campus Compliance Officer in the office of
President Shirvani. Her immediate
and unqualified response led Terry Francke, general counsel for Californians
Aware, to e-mail her this message the same day: Ms. Leguria, just to be clear
about your response: You're maintaining that no University office, officer or
employee has received any written communications from or sent any written
communications to the Foundation regarding this event?
2:30 p.m., the message got no response.
after 9 the next morning, the message got an immediate autoreply: I am out of
the office April 7-9, 2010 in observance of a mandatory, unpaid furlough day
due to severe state budget cuts imposed upon the CSU. Our office will reopen at
8:00 a.m. on Monday, April 12th.
led Francke to e-mail President Shirvani, repeating his request for
clarification, alluding to the equivocal nature of Ms. Leguria's initial
response, and suggesting that her statement was not a proper notice of
determination under the law, unless she was stating expressly that the
University had no communications to or from its employees concerning the
matter. With no clarification, Francke said, CalAware was "left to conclude that the University does possess such records but is unwilling
to produce them for public inspection."
following day attorney Kelly Aviles, speaking for CalAware, sent Dr. Shirvani
what Ms. Theodora referred to yesterday as the second request, as if it were
seeking different information. But
what it said was simply a clarification of CalAwares request, its rationale
for disclosure and its timeline for lawful response:
Please let me make clear that the request is directed to the
University, not at the University Foundation. It is our position that
you, as President of California Statute University Stanislaus, are
required by Education Code §89900(b) to ascertain that (1) all expenditures of
the University Foundation are in accordance with the policies of the trustees,
(2) the propriety of all expenditures, and (3) the integrity of the financial
reporting. In order to fulfill your statutorily mandated duties, you
would have reviewed the contract for Sarah Palin's appearance at the
University's 50th Anniversary Gala. Your use of such a contract in order
to perform your statutorily required duties mandates its disclosure.
Government Code section 6252(e) defines "public record" to include
any document "used" by any state agency. Government Code
section 6252(f) defines "state agency" to include any state
Further, by forwarding our request to the University
Foundation, you are violating Government Code section 6253.3, which states that
"a state or local agency may not allow another party to control the
disclosure of information that is otherwise subject to disclosure" under
the Public Records Act.
This letter will serve as our final communication to
reiterate the previous Public Records request and make clear the information
that we seek. The records we seek pursuant to the California Public
Records Act (Government Code Section 6250 et seq.) are:
(1) A copy of the
contract with the Washington Speakers Bureau for Sara Palin's appearance
at the University's 50th Anniversary Gala on June 25, 2010; AND,
(2) Any and all
public records [as defined in Government Code section 6252(e)] in possession of
any University official or employee, regardless of whether those officials or
employees are also officers or employees of the University Foundation, which in
any way relate to Sara Palin's appearance at the University's 50th
Anniversary Gala on June 25, 2010.
If you do not identify and produce all records responsive to
this request by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 13, 2010, we will have no choice but
to consider legal action.
Stanislaus students, on campus during the furlough affecting all employees,
observed shredded and unshredded documents being taken from the building
housing both the administration and Foundation offices and placed in a trash
container for disposal. One of the intact documents appeared to be part of the
contract for Governor Palins appearance, sandwiched among a variety of
ordinary University financial documents.
further response from the University, CalAware filed its lawsuit in Superior
Court for Stanislaus County.
p.m., CalAware counsel Kelly Aviles received a faxed page with no letterhead
nor even any salutation. Its entire text read:
We will make available to you any records we locate that are
public (see Cal. Got. Code Sections 6254 and 6255). We will contact you
promptly once we have located the records. If we locate any responsive document
you may inspect the records at California State University Stanislaus. When the
records are ready we can schedule a mutually convenient date and time. If you
wish copies instead, the CSU charge is 20 cent per page, irrespective of
whether they are produced in hard copy or electronic format.
We will advise you once we have completed our search about
the number of pages upon which any charge will be based.
Gina B. Leguria, Campus Compliance Officer