Wednesday, June 28, 2000

Lawsuits against Kenton dismissed

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Two open-records lawsuits filed against Kenton County have been dismissed, Kenton County Deputy Judge-executive Scott Kimmich announced Tuesday.

        In one case, Elsmere resident Terry Whittaker had argued that a $15 copying fee for a black and white copy of a 36-by-42-inch map was excessive.

        Ms. Whittaker also claimed the county would only fulfill open-records' requests by sending copies through the mail, rather than allowing someone to inspect the records first, then decide which should be copied.

        In both cases, an assistant to the Kentucky attorney general upheld Ms. Whittaker's claims in March, and she later filed suit in Kenton Circuit Court.

        However, in an agreement approved by both sides Monday, Ms. Whittaker dismissed her claim that the records were willfully withheld.

        As part of the settlement, the county agreed to pay $55, half the cost of filing fees paid by Ms. Whittaker, and $12 for the disputed charges for the reproduction of the map.

        Mr. Kimmich said it would have cost Kenton County taxpayers “significantly more than $67 to litigate (the) case.” Because Ms. Whittaker acknowledged the fiscal court had not withheld the documents, she said “it seemed inappropriate” to use taxpayers' money to fight it.

        Ms. Whittaker praised Mr. Kimmich and Brandon Voelker, the assistant Kenton County attorney who serves as the county's records custodian, for working with her to resolve her dispute.

        Ms. Whittaker said she had been seeking the records to confirm the validity of information in jail consultants' reports about the location of a new jail, “not to get fiscal court.”

        In an unrelated case, county officials said Fort Mitchell resident John Ellenbogen plans to refile his request for records, after the Kentucky attorney general ruled that Mr. Ellenbogen's open-records' requests for invoices for computers, software, and related materials dating to 1993, were improperly filed.


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