The feckless Little Rock Mayor is not an advocate of transparency.
We have filed six Freedom of Information Denial of Rights lawsuits against his administration to obtain a court order requiring his administration to provide us the records his administration refused to provide.
The scofflaw mayor has the honor of being the most sued mayor in the history of the safe city of Little Rock for Freedom of Information Act violations.
|LR Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. flees from courtroom in November 2022|
Our latest lawsuit was heard last week and once again a judge found our rights under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act had been violated by the Scott Administration.
The city of Little Rock was represented by a fairly new chief deputy city attorney Reed R. Edwards (they have a hard time keeping that position filled). The last one Alan Jones, quit to become a public defender in late February or March of this year.
|Reed Edwards - Chief Deputy City Attorney|
Edwards had his law license suspended in 2020 for failing to comply with continuing legal education ("CLE") hours. A bad sign for his competence.
Edwards was assisted by a Theresa Moore, who prior to her graduating law school and passing the bar in April 2023, was a FOI Coordinator at city hall.
Moore apparently isn't the sharpest tool in the shed either.
She sent us a FOI response regarding a fellow employee in the city attorney's office and failed to redact that individual personal email address. Note: we have hidden the email carrier to protect that city employee's rights to privacy.
She sent an email telling us to destroy that email and sent a redacted version of the file, but still failed to redact all instances of the personal email address.
Morris might have done this on purpose, as that employee had made a complaint about LR City Attorney Tom Carpenter and his alleged racist behavior and that of a former employee, Debbie Wisdom.
Prior to the hearing, Edwards approached our Russ Racop and wanted him to stipulate to some issues. Racop basically told him to fuck off.
Once the hearing began as there were no witnesses to be called arguments commenced.
Racop's argument relied on a precedent case [Pulaski Cty. Special Sch. Dist. v. Delaney, 2019 Ark. App. 210, 575 S.W.3d 420 (2019)] that ruled if a public agency had to the ability to scan and email records in response to a FOI request they must do that (Racop had participated in that case as a witness).
Racop began his argument reminding Judge Mackie Pierce that the last time he had the city before him in a FOI case (July of 2019), Judge Pierce told the city that if they were before him again in a similar matter, there would be consequences.
Racop then stated that he had been forced to file six lawsuits against the Scott Administration to get them to provide records he had requested via a FOI request.
Racop said the Scott Administration routinely refused to comply with FOI requests he made and made it difficult to obtain records in a manner (via email or a cloud based file server like Dropbox or SharePoint) that other public agencies frequently used to comply with lawful request for public records.
Racop referenced records that reflected the city had paid a large amount of money for access to SharePoint since at least 2021 and could easily provide large file size records using it.
Racop said that the city of Little Rock had provided millions of dollars to the Little Rock Police Department for technology. He related that LRPD provided records via a link to download videos and frequently sent records via email in response to a FOI request and sometimes LRPD had to send 40 or more emails to provide records to a specific request.
In the specific incident before the court, Racop said that LRPD had placed requested scanned records on a disk. Racop stated that was outdated technology and he had no computer with a disk drive on it to be able to access those records. Furthermore they wanted him to pick up the disk in person.
Racop stated that he had attempted to get the city to comply with his request by simply putting the records on SharePoint and emailing a link, or putting the records on a thumb drive and mailing it as an alternative to emailing them and that they refused.
Edwards argued that Racop misconstrued the legal case he cited. Edwards stated that if the court found in Racop's favor it could adversely impact smaller police departments in how they handled FOI responses (apparently he slept through or skipped the class in law school that taught that circuit court decisions are not binding). Edwards stated that placing records on a disk was providing them in electronic format and complied with the law. Edwards added that Sgt. Van Thomas in the LRPD FOI Unit was an honorable man and he would have done everything he could to provide a response and that Racop used inappropriate language in an email about his FOI request. He also stated very few city employees had access to SharePoint.
Judge Pierce stated that he had read the case Racop cited and he was not in agreement with Edwards understanding of that case. Judge Pierce stated he had no way to look at the records on the disk as no computer in his office had a disk drive. He also added that the city could have put the records up on a video marquee sign, an electronic format, but it wouldn't be useful, like the disk. He added that LRPD Chief Helton had recently invited him to tour the new LRPD headquarters and that he had seen 22nd Century technology there.
|Judge Mackie Pierce|
Edwards responded saying that after the lawsuit was filed, LRPD Chief Heath Helton had told the LRPD FOI Unit to stop using disks for FOI responses and throw the blank ones they had away. Edwards also said that the city had contracted with a company to help with FOI responses and utilize the cloud storage to provide records in an electronic format but that would not happen until sometime next year.
The hearing ended with Judge Pierce finding in Racop's favor and ordering the city to comply with his requests an place the records on a thumb drive.
As of the time this was published, the city has not provided the records.
Edwards provided false information to Judge Pierce at the hearing last Thursday.
As Racop stated at the hearing, records obtained from the city of Little Rock show that since at least 2021 the city has had access to SharePoint and could be using it to provide access to records. In fact, the city has paid out close to a million dollars for access to it.
One record had the name of the Debbie Wisdom on it. Wisdom was the executive administrative assistant in the city attorney's office.
Edwards also lied about Sgt Van Thomas being an "honorable man". Edwards couldn't use Watson as a witness because Thomas is a documented liar and is on the LRPD Brady Cop List.
Back in 2009, Watson shoved a man's head through a safety glass widow.
Thomas caught a 30 days suspension for untruthfulness, falsifying records, and use of force violations.
Here's the complete internal investigation file of that incident.
Edwards couldn't call Lt. James Sloan, who is over the LRPD FOI Unit, to testify either. Sloan once testified under oath that he had destroyed public records to keep them from being released. That's a felony under Arkansas law.
If either of these fuck-ups had been called as a witness no doubt our Russ Racop would have impeached them.
After the first of the year, we intend to seek the removal of the feckless mayor from office with legal action.
We have more than enough evidence to establish probable cause and prove our case beyond a reasonable doubt.