The paper chase

By Staff
June 6, 2004
Four Lauderdale County supervisors are ducking out on their obligation to furnish taxpayers with all of the documentation related to their recent foray into the heart of the Big Apple. (District 5's Ray Boswell didn't make the trip.)
They and other county officials have violated the state's public records law, but no one will be punished because the law is essentially toothless.
While some public bodies in this state appear to be catching on to the information age and responding under terms of the public records law, our supervisors, unfortunately, are not. They seem willing to live in a bubble, believing the voters are neither interested nor entitled to know how their money is being spent.
What we do know is that some pieces of the public information sought by The Meridian Star on the New York trip has been covered up under layers of deceptive paperwork. What we do know is that two law firms and a financial advisory firm with an interest in upcoming bond issues paid supervisors' hotel bills at a posh Manhattan hotel. The actual hotel invoices, the ones that might show room service, in-room movies and other expenses, have not been revealed, even though the costs are among $106,000 the board will consider Monday as part of the cost of borrowing $3.8 million in bonds to repair and pave county roads.
While too many officials crowded onto this spring trip to New York City, we have no problem with its stated purpose. We do have a problem with the supervisors' and county administrator's unwillingness now to fully disclose all details of the cost. And we have a problem with their flaunting of the state's public records law, as if they care.

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