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Secrecy efforts can backfire



Published: Sun, September 16, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

Secrecy efforts can backfire

The board of Mill Creek Metro- Parks is doing itself no favors by projecting an image of an organization that prefers to operate outside the public view.

Mill Creek Park’s directors had a history of staying around long enough to become a household name. The last two directors have left after abbreviated terms of service.

The Vindicator filled a public records request asking if any complaints had been filed against the current director, Clarke Johnson, or any reprimands issued. The park board’s lawyers responded that the board has no such records and that any such record would be confidential between the MetroParks and its legal counsel.

The implication is that the board is following a procedure under which any complaint that might become part of an employee’s personnel file — which is a public record — is sent to the board’s lawyer. The board would then circumvent Ohio public records law by claiming attorney-client privilege.

Such a ruse might work by requiring anyone seeking what should be a routine public record to challenge the board’s action through the attorney general’s office or the courts. But it suggests that the board is working overtime on ways to keep routine matters out of public view.

The board may think this is a clever strategy.

But such strategies are apt to turn traditional friends into enemies. And an entity such as the park, which has to go to the public periodically for approval of its operating levies, needs all the friends it can get. Especially in an age when many voters are eager for any reason to just say “no” to a tax issue.


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