Brad Jensen's Requests for Public Records Re the GM Hiring Process

Here's an update on my LA City and LAAS public records requests. Even with the 2 week extension (a total of 24 days) Mr. Pool has failed to produce a log sheet showing public records requests that were made and when they were completed. Previously, a request for this log sheet was provided in about 5 days. Pool said he needed the extra time in order to compile information from several different files BUT in an email exchange regarding another public records request (not one of mine) Linda Barth wrote; "Ross, please log Laura Beth's CPRA request and handle accordingly." So it appears there is a log for public records being requested.

A cd arrived in the mail with PDF copies of pra logs for 2008, 2009 and 2010. Why these files were not sent via email is a bit puzzling. It cost the Department $0.78 to mail the cd with a total file size of only 31Kb. The Department has a documented history of excuses for ignoring public records requests, failing to provide public information in the time allowed by law and failing to provide all the information requested. In this case, the department failed to provide all the information requested. However the pra log sheets do show the requests it received recently on the GM selection process.

The original LAAS Public Records Log Sheets (which are a mess) and my work in combining all of them into a single MS Excel worksheet can be found here:

Regarding information requested on the GM selection, a request was made to Bruce Whiddle with Personnel and a copy sent to the Mayor's Office asking for the names of all applicants, names of all applicants interviewd only one time, names of applicants interviewed or selected to be interviewed a second time and questions asked of each applicant interviewed only one time.

Response from Bruce Whidden was made in 4 days. His response was that "names of candidates applying for a position with the City of Los Angeles are exempt from release under the protections granted in Government Code Section 6255 because the public interest in releasing these records is clearly outweighed by the public interest in withholding these records. The responsive documents are therefore exempt from release under the California Public Records Act. Further, questions, scoring keyes, and other examination data used to administer an examination or interview for employment are likewise exempt under Government Code Section 6254(g) and 6255 because the public interest in releasing these records is clearly outweighed by the public interest in withholding these records."

Response from Gregg Kettles who is Deputy Counsel to the Mayor was made in 18 days. His response was that "responsive documents are exempt and being withheld because their disclosure would reveal either our office's deliberate process, or data used to administer an examination for employment, or both. Government Code Sections 6254(g) and 6255 permit non-disclosure because the public interest served by withholding this information clearly outweighs the public interest served by their disclosure.

In February 2010, letter from the Mayor was being circulated asking for more feedback and help on the GM selection. His letter requested public input on questions that might be asked of candidates during the "semi-final" and "final" interviews that would be taking place in the upcoming weeks. But what, if any, of those questions were actually used to interview candidates?

Government Code Section 6254(g) states, "Test questions, scoring keys, and other examination  data used to administer a licensing examination, examination for employment, or academic examination, except as provided for in Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 99150) of Part 65 of Division 14 of Title 3 of  the Education Code."

So it appears that the City of Los Angeles has conveniently interpreted the law to mean that interview questions should be regarded as test questions and exempt from public disclosure when in fact, they are not.

Withholding the names of applicants for the GM position could possibly be challenged but to my knowledge, no court has yet addressed the issue of what kind of information about government job applicants is public record.

Letter from Bruce Whidden, Personnel Department

Letter from Gregg Kittles, Deputy Counsel to the Mayor

And my public records log sheets for:

PR085 - LAAS PRA Log Sheet

PR086 - GM Selection

Brad Jensen

Cypress, CA


Anonymous said...

You don't think they are trying to hide something do you?

Ed Muzika said...

The administration, a governmental body try to hide something?

My experience with city government both in Santa Monica and LA, is that everything is hidden from the public by staff as a matter of course, even when it does not have to be.

As one city hall worker I knew in Santa Monica said, they all lie in the administration even when they don't have to. It is kind of institutionalized self-protection.