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The University of Kentucky violated the state’s Open Records Act twice when it denied open records requests related to the elimination of the university senate.

The Lexington Herald-Leader's Monica Kast reports on two Kentucky Attorney General open records decisions issued against the university and in favor of the Herald-Leader and Professor Davy Jones in two separate appeals.

Following a March Board of Trustees' meeting at which representatives of consultant Deloitte made a presentation comparing UK’s governance structure with  other, comparable universities, the Herald-Leader requested "'the contract between UK and Deloitte, any reports complied by Deloitte or UK related to findings or interviews done while working on Project Accelerate, along with emails and communication between Deloitte and the board of trustees.'"

Kast continues:

"Around the same time, UK professor emeritus Davy Jones requested similar documents from UK.

"UK denied documents from both requests, stating the documents were 'preliminary' and fell under 'attorney-client privilege,' exempting them from the open records law. The only record received by the Herald-Leader was a general contract between UK and Deloitte, which did not detail the work done for Project Accelerate.

"Both the Herald-Leader and Jones appealed the denials to the attorney general’s office, and at the end of June and beginning of July, the attorney general ruled that UK had partially violated the open records law by not properly explaining the reason for denying the requests, and by withholding a 'Statement of Work'
that qualified as a contract between UK and Deloitte.

"'The public is entitled to know the details of how efficiently, or inefficiently, (a private entity) has administered a public contract,' Attorney General Russell Coleman said in his decision. 'This cannot be known without public access to the document specifying the details of the work to be performed, whether it is referred to as a "contract"
or by some other title.”

In an email to the Herald-Leader,  Dr. Jones observed, "With the consent of the Board, President Capilouto was operating in secret, while pretending to be transparent. Sometimes the truth does prevail.”

Snatching victory from the jaws of defeat, UK spokesperson Jay Blanton "said Monday the attorney general’s ruling supports the university’s position on the records and UK would comply with the ruling to release the statement of work."

UK thus found comfort in its reliance on the much abused and overused preliminary documents exceptions and invocation of the ubiquitous attorney-client privilege.

The university's open records defeats afforded Herald-Leader executive editor Rick Green the opportunity "to underscore the Herald-Leader’s commitment to vigilantly ensure UK officials understand that public records, often involving either large sums of taxpayers’ money or how the university itself operates, are just that: They belong to all Kentuckians.”

Kast also reports that "[o]n the same day as the Herald-Leader’s ruling was issued, the attorney general again ruled UK violated the Open Records Act in an unrelated request. The university broke the law when it denied a request made by the Jewish Student Center for being 'unreasonably burdensome,'" the third in the trinity of overused and abused exceptions to the open records law.






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