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Secret packets spur official complaint

Staff writer

The Marion County Record has filed an official complaint with Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt about agenda packets that Marion City Council provides to the public.

Mayor David Mayfield quizzed a Record reporter in a comment on his Facebook page about how she knew the city council’s agenda packet contained “confidential” information.

“I’m curious how you know what is in the council packets compared to the public packets,” Mayfield wrote. “The council gets confidential information that is not assimilated to the public. Is a council person sharing council packets containing confidential with you?”

The reporter answered that she “simply noticed” that council members were referencing agenda packet page numbers and information that did not jibe with the agenda packet provided to the public.

Public officials can redact certain information under the Kansas Open Records Act, but they must cite an exemption under the state law that gives them that right.

“It can’t simply leave out information that taxpayers have a right to know,” the reporter explained to Mayfield.

The Record called city clerk Tiffany Jeffrey, outgoing city administrator Roger Holter and incoming city administrator Mark Skiles — all calls went to voicemail — about why the city council’s agenda packet differed from the public’s agenda packet. Jeffrey, Holter and Skiles did not return calls.

The Record filed a request with Jeffrey Aug. 10 under the Kansas Open Records Act Aug. 10 for public agenda packets that match the packets that city council members have access to during their biweekly meetings.

Under state law, public officials have 72 hours to respond to open records requests. On Monday, Jeffrey acknowledged the request and asked the reporter to complete an official records request form. The reporter did so, dropping off the form later that day at the municipal building, asking for the agenda packet that city council members used for their Aug. 8 meeting so the reporter could compare it with the agenda packet available online.

Jeffrey was unavailable when the reporter stopped by the city’s offices Monday. The reporter left the request at the front desk.

The reporter called the city Tuesday to check on the status of the request. The phone rang several times and went to the voicemail of treasurer Becky Makovec. Makovec’s mailbox was full and could not receive messages.

As of presstime, Jeffrey had not responded.

Last modified Aug. 18, 2022

 

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