Council loosens restrictions on public records ordinance

At its Wednesday night meeting, the Soldotna City Council discussed a public records ordinance.

The council unanimously voted to approve a substitute ordinance brought forth by council member Linda Murphy instead of an administration introduced ordinance.

Murphy’s ordinance made three “major changes” to the original public records ordinance, she said.

The first change was that it substituted city clerk for city manager throughout the ordinance because according to Alaska Statute, the city clerk is the records manager, she said.

Murphy said she didn’t know of any municipalities that handed over its record program to the city manager.

To ensure record requests are well tracked, Murphy’s ordinance changed some references to city agencies to city clerk. The original ordinance called for requests for records to be submitted to the department keeping the record. She said it’s important to have one person receiving requests and seeing them through to their conclusion.

The original ordinance gave the city manager and chief of police candidates as well as current employees the right to decide if their applications can be released to the public. Murphy said that section conflicts state case law in which the courts determined high-ranking city employees don’t have any right to privacy when it comes to employment applications.

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