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Governor told to turn over his calendar

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  1. Freedom of Information

    NMU         VERMONT         Freedom of Information         May 2, 2002    

Governor told to turn over his calendar

  • A state judge ordered Gov. Howard Dean to allow three newspapers who sued him under the state public records act to view his schedules.

A Vermont state judge ordered Gov. Howard Dean on April 26 to release his appointment calendar to the publishers of three Vermont newspapers.

Judge Alan Cheever of the Washington Superior Court held that the governor is subject to the state public records act and that his appointment materials fall within the definition of a public record. Cheever wrote in his order that the records were “expressly created to facilitate the daily activities of the agency . . . circulated among the agency staff for a business purpose, and thus, the calendars were not created for an official’s personal convenience, but for the convenience of agency staff in furtherance of official business.”

The publishers of three Vermont newspapers, The Rutland Herald, Barre-Montpelier Times Argus and a weekly publication based in Burlington called Seven Days, sued Dean and the state of Vermont for access to the governor’s daily calendars from September 2001 to the present and asked for continual updates.

The governor refused, arguing that he was exempt from the public records act under an executive privilege and that the appointment calendar did not qualify as a public record.

The judge held that nothing in the communications in the governor’s calendar was advisory and it did not contain policy or legal advice, so the privilege did not apply.

(Herald Assoc. v. Dean. Media counsel: Robert Hemley, Gravel and Shea, Burlington, Vt.) MM

© 2002 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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