Dec 30, 2010

Supreme Court puts an end to FOIA witch-hunt

The Michigan Supreme Court denied an appeal today to overturn an appeals court ruling that declined to release thousands emails under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), putting an end to the three-year witch-hunt to embarrass the teacher‘s union.

Anti-union activist Chet Zarko, who passed away last summer, filed the FOIA in 2007 with the help of teabagger and former Howell School Board member Wendy Day in a fishing expedition to embarrass the teacher’s union. He claimed the emails were sent on district computers during staff time, and they were used to lobby the public during contract negotiations. The district released some emails, but an injunction was issued stopping Zarko from receive any more of the 5,500 emails.

In January the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that the emails sent and received on Howell Public School computers between union members were not public record, and they concluded that under the FOIA statute the individual teacher’s personal emails were not rendered public records solely because they were captured in the email system’s digital memory.

The rightwing, anti-union think tank Mackinac Center for Public Policy, that bankrolled Zarko’s attorney, was not happy with the ruling.

“We can only hope the Michigan Supreme Court will reconsider this case when the justices reconvene in January,” said Patrick Wright of the center said in a press release. “Given the media interest in this case and how regularly citizens make use of the law, a state Supreme Court hearing is appropriate.”

I’m unaware of this alleged media interest, other than me and the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus. The Court of Appeals made in clear in January that the Legislature needs to address the situation.


K. said...

Someone should file an FOIA request for Mackinac Center emails on the grounds of "media interest" and "regular use of the law." They're a 501c3, so the legal standing should be there.

kevins said...

You are unaware of alleged media interest. My guess is that there are a lot of things of which you are unaware.

Hasn't the radio station covered this story? And isn't the Michigan Press Association involved?

That appears to be more media interest than you are aware of.

Communications guru said...

The radio station is based in Howell, so it’s local news. Other than local news, the media interest has not been a great as Mackinac Center claims. I also believe the MPA may have filed a amicus brief in the case. I was at the January hearing, and it was clear to me that, lile the court said, Legislature needs to address the situation. To rule any other way would mean they are activist judges.

Is that all you got?