Update on the Status of County PRAs

Update on the status of county PRAs: On May 14, we called on San Diego County to end its policy of not fulfilling certain requests for public records during the coronavirus pandemic, saying the outbreak should not be an excuse to sacrifice transparency on matters of vital public interest. The policy remains in effect, though the county informs us that its 60-day limit on retaining emails has been suspended during this time. We asked each supervisor to state their positions, and here’s what they told us.

Greg Cox: “From the very beginning of this crisis, the County has been very responsive to the media. We have held daily media briefings and our communications staff has continued to respond to questions before and after those briefings. I, along with my fellow Supervisors, have fulfilled numerous media requests and I can tell you my office has even contacted media outlets to reschedule interviews when we initially couldn’t do them. I understand the media has a job to do. But so does the County. And right now, our priority is to manage the health and economic impacts of this pandemic. We have responded to most of the public records requests, but we have said that there are some requests that may not be initially fulfilled. That doesn’t mean they won’t ever be fulfilled. It just means that right now we are in the middle of this crisis and we have to prioritize our response. Throughout this crisis we have asked for the patience and understanding of all residents with a situation we have not experienced in our lifetimes. I don’t think the media should be exempted from that request and we ask for your patience and understanding too as we try to deal with your requests.”

Dianne Jacob: “I’ve always believed that transparency is a core part of good governance, and I’m aware that county staff have been able to fulfill over 500 public records requests in recent weeks. About 35 to 40 requests have been delayed because they are COVID related. Despite the health crisis being the top priority, even some of those are being fulfilled if county staff has the information available. It is my expectation that county staff will continue to do all it can to fulfill the outstanding requests when the current crisis allows.”

Kristin Gaspar: “I’ve always believed that transparency is a core part of good governance, and I’m aware that county staff have been able to fulfill over 500 public records requests in recent weeks. About 35 to 40 requests have been delayed because they are COVID related. Despite the health crisis being the top priority, even some of those are being fulfilled if county staff has the information available. It is my expectation that county staff will continue to do all it can to fulfill the outstanding requests when the current crisis allows.”

Note: Jacob and Gaspar shared the same statement.

Nathan Fletcher (whose staff referred us to his comments to KPBS): “I think we’re many months into this now and so I would be supportive of a change in posture in ensuring that we’re fully compliant with the records requests.”

Jim Desmond: “I am supportive of transparency, especially being an elected official. We’ve been told that County staff has fulfilled over 500 PRA requests since March 1. I trust County staff will continue to fulfill them when the crisis subsides.”

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