Polk County Public Records

By Matthew Pleasant

The Ledger

February 7, 2004

LAKELAND — Obtaining public records in Polk County is a mixed bag.

As required by law, the city of Lakeland provided a Ledger representative with a job review for the city manager. The Personnel Department allowed the records to be read without requiring the name of the volunteer or a reason for the request.

The other three requests ran afoul of the law in various ways.

A Polk Sheriff's Office call log for the last 48 hours was requested. The log would take one to two days to compile, but was possible to obtain. However, a clerk asked the Ledger representative's name, but it was not required to receive the log requested.

The Polk school superintendent's most recent cell phone bill was requested. After being sent to two different offices, the Ledger volunteer was asked his name and who he was with. The volunteer was told a written request would be required before the bill could be given to him.

Superintendent Jim Thornhill, when asked to comment Friday, said in an e-mail: "In regards to information that falls under FOIA guidelines, we follow the letter of the law."

Also, e-mails and written correspondence between the Polk County administrator and county commissioners were requested by phone. The person who answered said the volunteer was required to give his name in order to obtain the records.

© 2004 The Ledger

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