September 17, 2012
CEDAR HILLS – On September 13, 2012, the Utah State Records Committee unanimously ruledin favor of the City of Cedar Hills in an appeal filed by Mr. Ken Cromar to waive the fees paidfor a recent GRAMA request. Generally, any person requesting public records must pay the costto search for and compile responsive records. Mr. Cromar claimed that he should receive therecords for free as an exception where the request primarily benefits the public.
On March 5, 2012, a GRAMA request was filed by Mr. Cromar requesting all emails fromformer city manager, Konrad Hildebrandt, and former mayor, Eric Richardson, to each other,and/or to any councilmember using whatever email address, from January 1, 2011, to present.The City agreed to provide all emails it possessed, provided that Mr. Cromar prepay for therequest, as the number of records was voluminous. Mr. Cromar filed a complaint with the UtahState Records Committee and a hearing was held on June 15, 2012. At that hearing theCommittee agreed with the City that Mr. Cromar must pay the cost to search for and compilerequested records. It further ruled that after payment he was entitled to obtain copies of therecords, including those on the personal email accounts of City officials. Once Mr. Cromar madepayment, the City immediately began to compile the records.
In his September 13, 2012, appeal, Mr. Cromar requested that the Committee require the refundof all fees paid, as he felt his request primarily benefited the public. He also asked the Committeeto assess a fine against the City in the amount of $500 per day, asserting the City was tardy infulfilling his request, and finally, that the Committee require the City to provide all the records inan electronic format. The City had denied the request for a fee waiver, because his GRAMArequest primarily benefitted him personally, and because he uses public records to advance hispolitical agenda. The City is expressly prohibited by law from subsidizing the political ambitionsand campaigns of any person. The City denied it had delayed in fulfilling the request andexplained that all documents within its possession were provided within 30 days, that additionalrecords were received by the City within the past ten days, and that those have since been redactedand provided to Mr. Cromar. The City also explained that paper copies were provided to Mr.Cromar only after an inadvertent disclosure of protected documents was identified in apreviously provided electronic copy of records given to Mr. Cromar. It was determined that the onlyway to ensure that records were correctly redacted was to supply paper copies.
The Committee unanimously denied each of Mr. Cromar’s requests, stating that there was noevidence that this request primarily benefited the public and that the City was allowed throughGRAMA to require prepayment. The Committee also stated that a fine would not be assessed asit was clear the City had complied with the request and any delay was caused by Mr. Cromar’sprior refusal to pay the cost of fulfilling his request. Finally, the Committee determined that ithad no authority to require the City to provide the documents electronically as the City hadappropriately determined the best way for it to comply with GRAMA with regards to protecteddocuments was to provide redacted paper copies.
“It was encouraging that the Records Committee recognized our efforts and diligence incompleting this GRAMA request,” stated city manager David Bunker. “City staff has spent aconsiderable amount of time compiling these records so they could be provided to Mr. Cromar asquickly as possible. At no time did we try to deny Mr. Cromar access to these records; we simplyrequested he pay for the work this would take as dictated by GRAMA law.”______________________________________________________
Sept. 24, 2012 – Utah State Records Committee Decision and Order to the appeal of petitioner, Ken Cromar, on behalf of Cedar Hills Citizens for Responsible Government. Download the Decision and Order.Media inquiries can be sent to Jenney Rees at firstname.lastname@example.org