Taxicab Commission Inappropriately Refused Sunshine Request
As readers of this blog may remember, a couple of months ago we made an official sunshine request to the Saint Louis Metropolitan Taxicab Commission (MTC). What we were looking for was a copy of proposed regulatory alterations from the MTC’s July meeting. The MTC’s custodian of record, the MTC’s Chairman, and even the MTC’s lawyer refused our request. They argued that they proposed changes, despite the fact that they were very nearly voted upon, were not public records.
We found the idea that a government body could withhold documents by simply not giving them to a custodian of records troubling at best, and so we filed a complaint with the Missouri Attorney General’s office. They got back to us last week, and thankfully found the MTC to be in the wrong. As the office put it:
“Generally information retained by the commissioners and presented at a public meeting would be considered a public record. If the information had not been previously provided to the custodian of record, we are not aware of any impediment which would have prohibited the custodian from asking the commissioners to provide them with a copy of the information presented during the meeting…”
The Attorney General’s office sent the MTC a letter explaining these facts, along with eight booklets on the sunshine law. While the response of the Attorney General’s office is to be commended, the MTC was able to effectively withhold documents from the public for months. For this circumvention of the sunshine law, the body has received only a slight remonstrance. We can only hope that the Attorney General’s office, among other state policy makers, will pay closer attention and give closer scrutiny to the MTC’s actions in future.
Note: We did not receive the document, but are no longer seeking it because the draft ordinance has been superseded.
Read the full letter from the Attorney General by clicking on the link below.