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Almost identical delay letter was sent by the attorneys in 2012 to a person requesting public records for another community college.
By Brian Hews and Randy Economy
HMG-CN has received a letter from Cerritos College attorneys Atkins, Andelsen, Loya, Rudd, and Romo (AALRR), a law firm based in Cerritos, indicating they will delay a public records request made by HMG-CN related to Robert “Bob” Chester.
Chester resigned from his positions as President of the Cerritos College Faculty Senate as well as the Coordinator of Judicial Affairs for the campus Wednesday Jan. 22.
On January 24, 2014 HMG-CN asked for all emails between Chester, College President Linda Lacy, Vice President of Student Affairs Stephen Johnson, Sgt Angel Castillo, Cerritos College Chief of Police Richard Buckowiecki, and Sgt. Randy Albano from January 2012 to the present.
AALRR waited the government code mandated 10 days to send a three-page response letter to HMG-CN requesting more time, 14 days, to compile the records.
The code mandates that all requests must be fulfilled within the 24-day time period unless “unusual circumstances” exist; that is, the request will contain thousands of documents.
This unusual circumstance request was used by both Assessor John Noguez and Controller Wendy Greuel when HMG-CN requested public records from them.
The letter stated “there is substantial emails between the parties, over 9 gigabytes, and indicated that Cerritos College’s email system is extremely antiquated, using back-up tapes, and that they would have to bring in District IT staff to help out.”
“As a result we will obtain third-party quotes from forensic experts. Prior to restoring information from the tapes, we will require written confirmation that you will pay for the data conversion process to restore the data from these tapes.”
It is highly unusual for any public institution to charge for public records requests other than copying documents. Of the over 100 requests HMG-CN has made, only one institution charged for copying documents.
HMG-CN emailed its attorney AALRR’s response the same day for comment and possible legal action, which could include filing a lawsuit.
The attorney responded by sending a letter from AALRR related to another community college public records request the attorney’s firm was handling.
The AALRR response for extension for the other community college was almost verbatim to the response sent to HMG-CN.
Calls into the college for comment about the email system went unreturned.
The attorney went on to say that, “we had on good information that their
(AALRR) allegations (in the response)were factually inaccurate and the back up system that was used at the college was capable of printing a log of all emails sent and received.”
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