"Is the open
government ruckus over Sarah Palin’s speaking fee in Turlock sputtering toward
a conclusion?", asks Lance Williams, blogging for California Watch,
referring to a CSU Stanislaus attorney's disclosure that a search of university
files had found nearly 900 pages concerning Governor Palin's invitation to
speak at a campus-related fundraiser.

He reports:

Terry Francke of Californians Aware, the First Amendment group that is trying to pry loose a copy of Palin’s contract for a speech at CSU Stanislaus, says the university has admitted for the first time that it has “800 or 900” documents about the event in its possession.

He says that’s “utterly at odds” with the university’s initial response to queries that were filed under terms of the Public Records Act, the state’s open records law.

At first, Francke recalls, the university said it didn’t have a single piece of paper about Palin's June 25 speech on campus.

It referred queries to the CSU Stanislaus Foundation. The foundation, which booked Palin for the event, signed a contract with the former Alaska governor and darling of the tea-party movement agreeing not to disclose how much she’s getting paid.(Critics suspect it’s more than $100,000.)

The foundation also claims to be exempt from the Public Records Act.Francke said the university’s claim that it had absolutely no documents about Palin never made much sense.Then, last month, the university’s claim was badly undercut by its alleged involvement in the so-called shred-a-thon. State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, accused CSU officials of shredding public document about the Palin speech.

Students had come to Yee with shredded documents they said they recovered from a dumpster near the administration building on a "furlough Friday," when the campus was deserted. The documents included part of Palin’s contract – although not the page that details the fee.

The shredding got the attention of the state attorney general’s office, which launched a probe of the foundation.

Now, Francke says the university has offered to make relevant documents available soon.

Lawyer Kelly Aviles, who is handling the courtroom work for Californians Aware, said she wasn’t optimistic that Palin’s contract would be in the trove.

“I would highly doubt it,” she said. She said she expects the CSU will continue to resist disclosing the contract, and the whole thing will wind up in court after Palin has come and gone.

CSU Stanislaus’ legal fees are being paid by the taxpayers. If Californians Aware wins its lawsuit, state law will require the taxpayers to pay the group’s legal costs as well.