Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Clarion-Ledger pens editorial on Ethics Commission Decision. Opinion published.

It's a nice day for Jackson Jambalaya as the Clarion-Ledger editorial page made my winning fight to obtain the police reports in the Heather Spencer case the subject of its editorial today. The Jackson daily opined:
"Call it, Citizens 1, Gov't secrecy 0, in the first test of Mississippi's new configuring of the law ensuring access to public records.
In its first ruling since the 2008 Legislature gave it new authority, the Mississippi Ethics Commission has ruled a private citizen is entitled to redacted Jackson police initial incident reports involving George Bell III in the slaying of his ex-girlfriend.....

media representatives repeatedly said when seeking guarantees of government compliance with Mississippi's Open Records Act, the law is for the public, not simply media outlets. xxxxx is a private citizen not employed by a media company.
The purpose of the request has no bearing on whether public information is public. Incident reports are public by law. xxxxx says he wants the information to use on his Internet blog. Government should have no say over the intent of publishing or medium

In addition to the published editorial, JJ is posting a copy of the published opinion. Here are some excerpts:
"The central dispute presented to the Commission is the duty o f a law enforcement agency to produce documents containing information that meets the statutory definition of incident report, where such documents could be considered "investigative reports" under the current statutory definitions. This dispute arises because the reports in issue were created before the statutory definitions were enacted and because Jackson did not create a separate document at that time which contains only '"incident report* information. If Jackson had produced a separate "incident report' containing only the name and identification of each person charged with and arrested for the alleged offense, the time, date and location of the alleged offense, and the property involved, Jackson could simply produce that document. However, such is not the case.....

As it applies to the instant dispute, Jackson has in its possession documents that
contain investigative information. Clearly these documents are exempt from disclosure pursuant to Sec. 25-61-3. However, these exempt documents admittedly contain information that meets the statutory definition of incident report" under Section 25-61-3(e). To comply with the mandate in Section 25-61-55(2) well as the public policy codified throughout the Act, Jackson must redact the exempt investigative material from the documents and produce the nonexempt incident report information Failure to do so is a violation of the Act

This is just one step in the fight to make government more accountable to the people. This battle to open up public records benefits the public, not just the media, in the long run. One of the reasons Mississippi has been in last place for so long is because our government officials for too long have been able to hide their shenanigans and hijinks behind a veil of secrecy. Hopefully, other media outlets and private citizens will realize how valuable this tool is and make productive use of it.

Note: Correction for the CL editorial: It issued an opinion which said if Jackson had created a separate document containing only incident report information, such as the name, date and location of persons charged, the city could simply produce suc document. This is not completely true as the law also requires a "narrative description":
"Incident report" means a narrative description, if such narrative description exists and if such narrative description does not contain investigative information, of an alleged offense, and at a minimum shall include the name and identification of each person charged with and arrested for the alleged offense, the time, date and location of the alleged offense, and the property involved, to the extent this information is known..."

Earlier post reporting on Ethics Commission's decision:
WLBT story:
Clarion-Ledger story:
Jackson's original reply to Ethics Commission inquiry:
Original post:


Anonymous said...

Have you been attacked yet by the Fondren Bugle? No good deed should go unpunished...

gorjus said...

Kingfish, I quit reading your blog because I got full of it, frankly. However, I read in the C-L where you won this case--and I wanted to drop by to express my heartiest congratulations to you. I may not agree with your views, but I sure as hell support your right to bang them out, and I always support your right as a citizen to have access to information our secrecy-obsessed government was trying to keep from us.

In short, good job, man. You just made it easier for every other citizen to get access to information the government said was 'privileged.' In 2008, in this democracy, there shouldn't be any such thing.

Tonite I'm going to raise a toast to you.

Kingfish said...

Too bad Gorjus because I really do enjoy your comments even when I disagree with them. This blog isn't about an agenda, its about what I think on a particular issue and having some fun as well. Stick around.

Tom Head said...

Everything Gorjus said. Whatever I might have disagreed with in the past, I'm with you 100% on this one. You're kickin' 'em and takin' 'em. Chris Joyner and (believe it or not) Brian Johnson would be, and probably are, proud.

Anonymous said...

YO, King, did you see this link that is posted over @ Y'allP?


Nat'l interest! Big time congrats.

Anonymous said...

OE on the link. Too many jagerbombs -- which isn't a bad thing. Try again.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS