Friday, October 24, 2014

City Attorney Seeks Delay on Emails Complaint
By Todd Swindell and Michael Petrelis

San Francisco's enforcer of all applicable open government and transparency laws is supposed to be City Attorney Dennis Herrera, yet he and his office staff are widely recognized as hindrances in terms of enforcement and compliance.

Earlier this year, the #VotePetrelis team filed public records requests for emails related to Jo Becker's gay marriage book "Forcing the Spring", and we showed that the City Attorney had practically turned his office into a boutique PR firm for the author and her book tour stop in San Francisco.

Since Herrera follows Willie Brown's dictum of never writing anything down and leaving a paper or email trail, he does not receive or send any emails from his official city addy.

However, his deputy assistant Tara Collins serves as his email gatekeeper and we filed a request in May for her emails and work calender for a few months, but we never received any responsive public records so a complaint was lodged with the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force.

Last week, we were informed that our complaint would be heard next week but we knew this didn't mean we'd finally have the matter adjudicated by the SOTF because we expected a delay or obfuscation attempt by the City Attorney. Lo, that's what happened.

Here's the SOTF note explaining the delay request:

"The Respondent (Office of the City Attorney) in the above mentioned matters has requested a continuance on the hearing of the complaint scheduled for October 28, 2014, to the next regularly scheduled meeting.

"The Sunshine Ordinance Task Force's complaint procedure states in Section B.8..b: If a respondent submits a request for continuance at least three business days in advance, upon agreement of the complainant the continuance shall be granted. If the complainant does not agree to the continuance, the request for continuance is not made within three business days, or the respondent is requesting a subsequent continuance, such continuance shall be granted by a simple majority vote of the members present.

"Please let me know if you agree or disagree with the request for continuance.

"File No. 14066: Complaint filed by Michael Petrelis against Tara Collins, City Attorney’s Office, for allegedly violating Sunshine Ordinance Section 67.25 for failure to respond to a request for public documents in a timely manner dated May 30, 2014."

Yes, we've responded to the SOTF disagreeing with the delay request and we now wait to hear from the task force regarding next steps.

The City Attorney has never acknowledged receiving our request and failed to comply with responsive public records created with taxpayer funds, and for unstated reasons want to push back when the SOTF would delve into the matter.

Standard operating b.s. for San Francisco's top sunshine enforcer and Dennis Herrera should be widely criticized for blocking access to public records from his office.

In this photo from a recent Sundance Film Festival, Herrera is on the right next to former Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solomnese. Thanks to a public records request, we learned that Herrera billed San Francisco taxpayer for his junket and promotion of a film in which he appeared.

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