State Records Committee Appeal 04-12
BEFORE THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE OF THE STATE OF UTAH
MATTHEW D. LAPLANTE and MATT CANHAM, Petitioner,
SANDY CITY, Repondent.
DECISION AND ORDER
Case No. 04-12
By this appeal, Salt Lake Tribune Reporters Matthew D. LaPlante and Matt Canham seek an order compelling Sandy City to provide the names of police and fire department personnel. After providing salary and other information responsive to the request, the City denied access to the names of these public safety workers on the grounds that it had classified personnel records as confidential pursuant to Utah Code Ann. 10-3-1212(2). The State Records Committee, having reviewed materials submitted by the parties, and having heard oral argument and testimony of the parties on October 27, 2004, now issues the following Decision and Order.
STATEMENT OF REASONS FOR DECISION
1. GRAMA specifies that "all records are public unless otherwise expressly provided by statute." Utah Code Ann. 63-2-201(2). Utah Code Ann. 63-2-301 states:
(1) The following records are public except to the extent they contain information expressly permitted to be treated confidentially under the provisions of Subsections 63-2-201(3)(b) and (6)(a): . . . . (b) names, gender, gross compensation, job titles, job descriptions, business addresses, business telephone numbers, number of hours worked per pay period, dates of employment, and relevant education, previous employment, and similar job qualifications of the governmental entity's former and present employees and officers excluding:
(i) undercover law enforcement personnel; and
(ii) investigative personnel if disclosure could reasonably be expected to impair the effectiveness of investigations or endanger any individual's safety; Utah Code Ann. 63-2-301(1) (emphasis added). GRAMA acknowledges that there may be other laws that govern or limit the disclosure of records. In that instance, "disclosure of records to which access is governed or limited pursuant to . . . another state statute . . . is governed by the specific provisions of that statute . . . ." Utah Code Ann. 63-2-201(6); see also Utah Code Ann. 63-2-201(3)(b).
2. The City maintains that Section 201(6) applies to this case. Utah Code Ann. 10-3-1212(2) states: The books, records, and accounts of the [city] council shall be kept at the office of the city recorder or town clerk. Individual citizens or citizen groups may have access to all public records with the exception of personnel records, which have not been classified as confidential for public policy purposes. Id. (emphasis added).
3. The initial question before is whether Section 1212 applies to petitioners' requests. After considering this statute in context, it is apparent that this limitation only applies to city council records. The records sought were not created or maintained by the city council. Therefore, this provision does not apply to petitioners' requests.
4. Having determined that access to these records is not governed or limited by Section 10-2-1212(2) of the Optional Forms of Government Act, the Committee must now determine whether the information sought is public pursuant to Section 63-2-301(1)(b) of the Government Records Access and Management Act. Section 301 is reasonably clear on its face. Subject to the exceptions set forth in subsections (i) and (ii), the names of a governmental entity's current employees are public. The Committee is mindful of the public safety and security concerns raised by the City (see Utah Code Ann. 63-2-304(10)), however, the principles of democracy outweigh those concerns and the Committee is satisfied that the exceptions noted above are sufficient to address them.
WHEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED THAT petitioners' request to access the names of police and fire personnel is granted as set forth above. Sandy City's decision to deny access to the requested information is reversed.
RIGHT TO APPEAL
Either party may appeal this Decision and Order to the District Court. The petition for review must be filed no later than thirty (30) days after the date of this order. The petition for judicial review must be a complaint. The complaint and the appeals process are governed by the Utah Rules of Civil Procedure and by Utah Code Ann. 63-2-404. The court is required to make its decision de novo. In order to protect its rights on appeal, a party may wish to seek advice from an attorney.
Pursuant to Utah Code Ann. 63-2-403(14), the government entity herein shall comply with the order of the Committee and, if records are ordered to be produced, file (i) a notice of compliance with the records committee upon production of the records; or (ii) a notice of intent to appeal. If the government entity fails to file a notice of compliance or a notice of intent to appeal, the Committee may do either or both of the following: (a) impose a civil penalty of up to $500 for each day of continuing noncompliance; or (b) send written notice of the entity's noncompliance to the Governor for executive branch entities, to the Legislative Management Committee for legislative branch entities, and to the Judicial Council for judicial branch agencies entities.
Entered this 1st day of November, 2004.
BY THE STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE
Patricia Smith-Mansfield, Chair
State Records Committee