The article includes a discussion with city attorney Doug White, who acknowledged that the city could have handled the request better. But it was rather surprising to read the following claim:
White stressed the city clerk consistently stated Riverbank would fully comply with the request but it would charge for having to create records.
That is not an accurate representation of the city’s position, which can be best illustrated by quoting in full their response to our request for records documenting the names and wages paid to its employees:
I am aware that every year you request that we provide this information with employee’s names on it; and we repeatedly inform you that we do not have a report with all the requested information listed below. According to the California Public Records Act, we are not required to create a record we do not have and use in the course of business. I will inform you now, that what I’ve provided are the only records that exists most responsive to your request.
I don’t see anything in that response that indicates a desire to provide the responsive records, which is why we sent a follow-up disputing the underlying claim — that the city has no records allowing it to identify the names and wages paid to its employees. The below is the entirety of the city’s response to our second request for this information:
You have been provided all the records that we have on file that fulfill your request. Again, there is no list of employees with titles or an updated list of the sample you provided.
We will consider your request fulfilled and closed.
Mr. White’s claim that the city clerk “consistently stated Riverbank would fully comply with the request” does not seem to be supported by the evidentiary record.
You can read the full article by visiting the Modesto Bee website here.