In the summer of 2013, when the Floyd County Health Department claimed years-long precedent for its sudden decision to require temporary food permits of beer vendors operating under supplemental catering permits, I filed a state public access request. The FCHD’s reaction was typical.
The hearing is tomorrow, but the Floyd County Health Department is stonewalling about its public access obligations.
Just before the health board hearing in July, the department finally, grudgingly complied to the bare minimum of its capabilities — and that’s a low arc, indeed.
.. As for the Public Access request, after a whole month went by with neither a reply nor an explanation from the FCHD, yesterday I had no choice but to file a formal complaint with the Public Access officer in Indianapolis. The complaint was given priority status owing to today’s hearing. Yesterday morning, Dr. Harris was sent notification of my complaint, and subsequently copies of a mere six citations for five years’ time were faxed to us, sans explanation, which beggars belief, but it remains that not one of them pertains to beer.
At the hearing itself both Dr. Tom “House” Harris and board attorney Rick Fox openly mocked NABC’s public access request as being incorrectly worded — when the intention was crystal clear to the public access officer in Indianapolis, who had to remind them of their obligation to answer.
You already know that the Attorney General of the state of Indiana has found the FCHD’s justifications to be obfuscations. Here’s a reminder, just in case.
Throughout the health department’s 2013 usurpation of power, and as we await events of the coming year, during which Dr. Tom has vowed to ignore the AG’s ruling, there has been a consistent thread: The actions of the Floyd County Health Department are inseparable from the governmental “culture” of the county’s elected (and sometimes appointed) officials, especially the pair of Republicans occupying two of three chairs as our Commissioners.
That’s why I’ve urged local gendarmes to take missing persons claims seriously.
The reason I’m rehashing this old ground? It’s because of recent comments from Rick Fox (same attorney, different governmental client), as described in a News and Tribune article.
NEW ALBANY — Floyd County Auditor Scott Clark was in court Monday following a claim that his office had failed to make public records available to a woman who had requested the documents.
Kathy Lowe, Harrison County, filed a motion of default judgment in March that led to the civil hearing in Floyd County Circuit Court.
Lowe claims Clark has dismissed her numerous attempts to obtain claims and invoices related to the three David Camm trials and the renovation of the Pine View Youth Shelter and Government Center.
Lowe’s accusations are supported by the Indiana Public Access Counselor …
And then this:
… Fox said Lowe’s inference that Clark has not complied to her requests is also related to her failure to be clear with what documents she wanted to receive.
“There is an ambiguity as to specifically what it is she was looking for,” he said. “What we ultimately want out of the case is to comply with what her requests are.”
Another public access request, and another snide insinuation from Fox that the principle of public access is valid only when couched in specifically phrased legalese, preferably the sort mastered by lawyers as opposed to laymen. Of course, this is not the intent of Indiana’s public access statute.
My point … once again, with feeling … is that the profound rot in county government reflects the very apex of the Peter Principle, where Mark Seabrook and Steve Bush preside. From there it filters inexorably down, or to be more accurate, drips over the sides like a plugged commode reeking of rancid sewage.
And one of them wants to be sheriff? Jeeebus help us.