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Seek cover: Public records caught in political crossfire

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  1. Freedom of Information
The ACLU is suing a city in California to prevent the public release of names of employers registered to hire day laborers.  The longtime…

The ACLU is suing a city in California to prevent the public release of names of employers registered to hire day laborers.  The longtime civil rights defender wants to keep the names primarily from a local offshoot organization of the anti-illegal-immigration group the Minuteman Project (see below). 

It’s no secret that the ACLU and the Minuteman folks don’t like each other.  But now their PDA (public display of acrimony) is wounding bystanders… namely, the public and the public’s records.  

While the balance between legitimately private matters and the public’s right-to-know may sometimes require weighing of competing interests, this one’s not even close. 

That’s why media groups have joined together to challenge the ruling of a lower court siding with those who want to ignore public records laws and withhold employers’ names.  As Copley Press attorney Scott Wahrenbrock, said back in July, “We find the ACLU’s privacy rights argument in support of blocking public access to the names of resident employers disingenuous.”  

Let’s hope the California Supreme Court insists on a ceasefire from the primary combatants, and comes down on the side of open government and the California Public Records Act.