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The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Friday, January 25, 2008

I'd Want To Exempt That Bill, Too....

Monterey County paid at least $435,000 for attorneys it hired to help with federal voting-rights lawsuits over two controversial land-use ballot measures that eventually went before voters in June.

Spending for the attorneys was gleaned from some 200 pages of documents released by county officials to a government watchdog group in the past week. Open Monterey Project officials were seeking the billing documents since spring 2007 under the state Public Records Act.

"The issue is transparency and accountability," said Michael Stamp, attorney for the group. Stamp provided the spending estimate after reviewing billing documents, and said it would likely reach $445,000.

The group filed suit in May 2007 to obtain the outside-attorney billing records. But the county released documents with payment amounts blacked out.

County officials contended that premature public release of the records could cost the county more money by revealing its legal tactics and financial commitment in the cases. The county took the position that the billing records were exempt from public disclosure because they were part of pending litigation.

More here.

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