Sunday, September 16, 2007

Emails in County Zoning Case are Public Records

The Herald-Standard has longstandingly been a champion of the case for open public records. A recent promotion for the just cause urges the public to seek public records to learn first-hand of the "difficulty" of obtaining what the public has a right to see.

In this local zoning case, the public is given an indication that e-mails were sent and received between county employees and potentially elected public officials.

The emails should be made public, each and every one of them. It isn't enough to simply report their existence. The public has the right to know the content of the emails.

The Herald-Standard should publish all of the emails. The public can then make its own determination about them.

It would be tedious and time-consuming for individuals to go through the process of requesting the emails now.

The newspaper would be irresponsible if it told us to go and try to obtain these records on our own...

Zimmerlink says she was not improperly involved in zoning case
By Amy Zalar, Herald-Standard
Updated 09/14/2007 12:06:05 AM EDT

Fayette County Commissioner Angela M. Zimmerlink said Wednesday it is not unusual for her to take her role as a county commissioner seriously and for her to take the time and effort to make sure county offices are operating "properly, effectively, efficiently and fairly."

Speaking at the conclusion of a Fayette County Zoning Hearing board appeal hearing, Zimmerlink was addressing assertions that occurred throughout the testimony that she was improperly involved in the process in which members of the Cellurale family were issued zoning violations.
Wednesday's testimony marked the fourth day of testimony - stretched out since April - for the three separate appeal hearings, which center on property in close proximity to the historic Meason House in Dunbar Township.

Joseph "Joey" Cellurale Jr. was cited for failure to meet the conditions set forth in a special exception to operate his Joey's Auto Body business in 2001, and James and Marilyn Cellurale were cited for discarded material and equipment on the property, as well as using and office trailer for storage and having a Dumpster on the parking lot property.

The zoning violations were issued in January and subsequently appealed.

Throughout the separate days of testimony, Cellurale's attorney David Toal implied Zimmerlink's involvement was out of the ordinary and improper.

Toal questioned Zimmerlink about e-mail correspondence he provided her with that occurred among courthouse employees, although Zimmerlink said she did not provide the copies to Toal. Tammy Stenson, director of the Fayette County Office of Planning, Zoning and Community Development, who was a part of the e-mails, also testified she did not provide the interoffice correspondence to Toal.

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