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AG opinion on Governor’s charter group is here

October 1, 2013

Delaware’s office of the Attorney General has issued its opinion on the Governor’s Working Group on Charters, in response to a FOIA petition filed by John Flaherty and others. Full text is here..

Basically, the opnion finds the group WAS a public body fully subject to FOIA, and was obliged to keep and publish minutes and to publish neeting times and agendas in advance. No violator was identified, and the opinion declined to suggest remediation.

The opinion directly contradicts assertions from the Governor’s office and from the Department of Education that the group was not a public body or subject to FOIA because it was informal and had no decision-making authority. Neither of those claims is a legitimate exemption from FOIA as found in the law.

  1. Citizen
    October 1, 2013 at 12:45 pm

    What is particularly unfortunate about this is that, during contentious legislative debates surrounding HB 165, the argument that the charter working group had been fully public and had involved all relevant stakeholders was used to quell opposition to the bill (or requests for significant amendment). This AG opinion confirms what many felt, namely that the working group was not a sufficiently public body–yet at this point the damage done via violation of state FOIA law is done and cannot easily be remedied (although perhaps this opinion will be used to reintroduce some of the issues debated during HB 165 consideration).

  2. October 1, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    The opinion is a dish that would have tasted much better eaten hot.

  3. October 1, 2013 at 6:17 pm

    How does one eat a dish without breaking his teeth??? Unless one heated it until it almost melted… But then it would burn one’s mouth!

  4. John Young
    October 1, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    ultimately not news. We all knew they had skirted the law.

  5. Coolspringer
    October 2, 2013 at 10:03 am

    Too bad it doesn’t render the slush fund null & void.

  6. Citizen
    October 2, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Agreed, coolspringer. But legislators could be pressed to repeal 165, based on this AG opinion, and to conduct a genuine public debate about charter law reform in keeping with state FOIA law. The courts aren’t requiring this, but it is still an option.

  7. October 2, 2013 at 10:36 am

    I don’t think repeal is realistic.But we do need to keep emphasizing that HB 165 is NOT charter reform and in fact is a setback to charter reform. Charter reform is a task that still lies before us. Unfortunately I think charter reform can only be achieved through the courts.

  8. Citizen
    October 2, 2013 at 11:10 am

    Except that it’s not clear how the courts can help…

  9. delawareway
    October 6, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    AG just this year forced a town to redo their vote when found illegal because of FOIA violations. This is pick and choose crap from Biden.

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