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(A) Kentucky courts recognize “[t]he unambiguous purpose of the Open Records Act, being KRS 61.870 to 61.884 is the disclosure of public records even though such disclosure may cause inconvenience or embarrassment”, but that “[d]espite its manifest intention to enact a disclosure statute, the General Assembly determined that certain public records should be excluded from disclosure” and that “[f]rom the exclusions we must conclude that with respect to certain records, the General Assembly has determined that the public’s right to know is subservient to statutory rights of personal privacy and the need for governmental confidentiality”.
(B) To promote accountability and ensure “open, honest, transparent and efficient government practices and policies”, the city has adopted a revised transparency policy at §§ 37.30 and 37.31 of this chapter. The revised transparency policy is intended to facilitate streamlined access to frequently requested records that do not compromise statutory rights of personal privacy or the need for governmental confidentiality by posting those records on the city’s website, https://www.covingtonkv.gov for immediate access. Sections 37.30 and 37.31 of this chapter supplements, but does not supersede, modify, or limit rights guaranteed under Kentucky’s Open Records Act, being KRS 61.870 to 61.884 and persons or entities wishing to obtain records and information identified in the ordinance may do so by means of an open records request.
(C) In all other cases, the city shall exercise a presumption in favor of openness except those in which the public’s right to know must yield to “statutory rights of personal privacy or the need for governmental confidentiality”.
(D) The General Assembly has enacted 16 statutory exemptions found at KRS 61.878(l)(a) through (p). In interpreting and applying these exemptions, the city shall be guided by the express language of the exemptions, case law construing the exemptions, and administrative guidance provided by the Kentucky Attorney General.
(E) The exemptions found at KRS 61.878(l)(a) through (p) shall be “strictly construed” pursuant to the statement of legislative policy in KRS 61.871.
(F) Pursuant to KRS 61.878(1)(p), “[c]ommunications of a purely personal nature unrelated to any governmental function” shall be exempt from public access. Communications from nongovernmental employees that address campaign or election issues, matters before the Board of Commissioners, or general city business are not purely personal and shall be subject to disclosure.
(G) In the event the City Clerk or the City Clerk’s designee requires assistance in determining whether to waive the city’s right to refuse access to material excluded from public inspection, the City Clerk or the City Clerk’s designee shall immediately request assistance from the Office of the City Solicitor. If the Office of City Solicitor requires assistance in determining whether to waive the city’s right to refuse access to material excluded from public inspection, that office shall immediately request assistance from the City Manager. If the City Manager requires assistance in determining whether to waive the city’s right to refuse access to material excluded from public inspection, the City Manager shall immediately request assistance from the Board of Commissioners who shall make the determination, notify the City Clerk or the City Clerk’s designee, and direct issuance of a final response.
(H) In accordance with applicable state law, the city shall not attempt to avoid responding to a lawful open records request submitted by a party involved in litigation, when the requested documents could be obtained through an applicable provision in the Kentucky Rules of Civil Procedure.
(I) The city shall not, by ordinance, order, contract or other formal or informal action, attempt to restrict access to, offer assurances of confidentiality for, or promise to withhold, public records that are not already exempt under one or more exemption codified at KRS 61.878(l)(a) through (p).
(J) A city employee, or applicant for employment, is entitled to inspect and obtain copies of any records that relate to the employee or applicant, even if the records are statutorily exempt, unless the employee is under criminal or administrative investigation or requests a copy of an examination that will be given again. The city employee, or applicant for employment, shall comply with the city’s uniform open records policy in accessing public records of the city or public agencies operating under its jurisdiction.
(K) The city shall not withhold statistical information not descriptive of any readily identifiable person. The city is not, however, obligated to compile statistics that do not already exist to fulfill an open records request.
(L) If a requested public record contains both exempt and nonexempt information, the city shall separate the exempted information and make the nonexempt information available. The city shall identify the exemption relied upon in withholding exempted information in its final written response to the request and provide a detailed explanation of how the exemption applies to the information withheld.
(M) Although access to body worn camera recordings shall be governed by KRS 61.870 to 61.884, as well as the retention requirement set forth in the Local Government General Records Schedule, Records Series 6707, KRS 61.168 identifies 14 exceptions to the general rule of openness that the city may, in its discretion, invoke to limit access unless certain conditions, identified at KRS 61.168(5), are met.
(N) Public agencies, and officials and employees of public agencies, shall comply with the city’s uniform open records policy in accessing public records of the city or public agencies operating under its jurisdiction, but shall enjoy an enhanced right of access to otherwise exempt public records if the public records are necessary in the performance of a legitimate government function or serve a legitimate governmental need. Public agencies, officials or employees who obtain otherwise exempt public records for these purposes shall ensure the records are not publicly disclosed.
(O) To the extent feasible, the city shall notify a person or persons affected by disclosure of records containing personal information that a request for records relating to the person(s) has been received and that the city intends to release the records two weeks from the date of notification. Such a person(s) has standing to bring an action against the city in Circuit Court to prevent disclosure of the records if the Court finds that disclosure of the personal information would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. The city shall agree to postpone final action on the request for two weeks, and afford the person(s) an opportunity to review the records in that period, but if no action has been initiated after two weeks, the city shall release the records.
(1984 Code, § 37.07) (Ord. O-14-19, passed 6-11-2019)
Similar provisions, see KRS 61.878(2), (3),(4)