Little-known public record case has far-reaching ramifications

Commentary from Jim Newton at the L.A. Times:

The ability of Californians to scrutinize their government may rest on the outcome of a little-known case unfolding in a tiny Northern California town.

It began routinely enough. Tim Crews, the pugnacious, 69-year-old editor and publisher of the Sacramento Valley Mirror, a twice-weekly newspaper that serves Glenn County, filed a request under the California Public Records Act for records held by the local school district. Specifically, Crews was looking for evidence that district officials might have spent public money to influence the outcome of a local election.

District officials did what public officials in California all-too-often do when confronted with a request they don't like. They stalled. At first, they refused to turn over anything. Then they turned over some of the records Crews had asked for, but in a format that made it impossible to search them. And when Crews asked for attachments referred to in some of the emails released in the request, the district refused to hand them over.