Public Records Supervisor Asks Mass AG to Compel Town of Falmouth to Produce Records Requested by

September 28, 2016

Attorneys Jillian Ryan and Leah Barrault moved closer to a victory for government transparency and Union information requests, thanks to support by the Supervisor of Public Records. The Supervisor is recommending that the AG force the Town of Falmouth to disclose secret drafts to a report about public safety services in the Town.

On behalf of Falmouth Firefighters Local 1397 Barrault and Ryan requested that the Town of Falmouth provide drafts of a consultant's report about reorganizing local public safety dispatch. This information is undeniably a public record that must be disclosed. Drafts of a report can help determine whether edits were made to the report at the request of the Town, and/or for political reasons. And yet the Town's outside attorney refused to disclose the information. The Town has waged a nearly two-year campaign to withhold public information. Unions understand that a refusal to provide information can be related to employer's concerns about how the information will damage

Ryan appealed the denial to Supervisor of Public Records more than a year ago. The Supervisor administers the law and determines whether information may be withheld by local government. Back in December 2015, the Supervisor ruled back that the requested drafts were public records and must be disclosed to Local 1397. The Town's outside attorney refused to allow the Town to provide the information.

The Town's attorney asked the Supervisor to reconsider his December decision. In April 2016, the Supervisor flatly rejected this request and instead affirmed the Town's obligation to produce the drafts. His decision is attached. Despite losing two decisions on point, the Town's outside attorney still took no steps to ensure that the Town provide the information.

The Supervisor has taken the matter up a notch. He has referred the dispute to Massachusetts Attorney General Maura T. Healey and asked her to take steps to enforce the public records law against the Town of Falmouth.

Hopefully, the Town will stop this senseless and expensive battle and produce the information. The Union may consider filing a public request with the Town for how much taxpayer money it spent on an outside attorney to defend such a frivolous position.