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SPJ is against McKinney, Texas charging $79,000 for public records


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7/1/2015


UPDATE 7/2/2015: A spokeswoman for McKinney, Texas, apologized to Gawker for sending a $79,000 bill to fulfill the Public Information Act request. SPJ is pleased the city came to its senses and acknowledged the original fee was unreasonable and exorbitant.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 1, 2015

Contacts:
Dana Neuts, SPJ National President, 360-920-1737 (PDT), dneuts@spj.org
David Cuillier, SPJ FOI Committee Chair, 520-248-6242 (MST), spjdave@yahoo.com
Maggie LaMar, SPJ Communications Coordinator, 317-920-4785, mlamar@spj.org

INDIANAPOLIS— The Society of Professional Journalists is appalled that the city of McKinney, Texas, would charge more than $79,000 for public records requested by Gawker. SPJ stands with Gawker in its appeal, and encourages the city of McKinney to provide the information free of charge, or at least at a reasonable rate.

The request stems from a June 6 incident in which McKinney Police Officer Eric Casebolt pulled his gun on two unarmed teenagers at a neighborhood pool. Gawker reported on Monday that a few days after the incident, it submitted a public information request to the city asking to see Casebolt’s records and “any emails about his conduct sent or received by McKinney Police Department employees.”

According to the article, the city said it would take thousands of hours to produce the information in electronic format. Specifically, it would cost $63,583.50 for programming personnel to “execute an existing program or to create a new program so that requested information may be accessed and copied…”

“The amount that the city of McKinney is requiring Gawker to pay for the emails is absolutely absurd. This is an obvious tactic to dissuade requests for information about Casebolt. SPJ fully supports Gawker and its decision to appeal,” SPJ President Dana Neuts said.

Founded in 1909 as Sigma Delta Chi, SPJ promotes the free flow of information vital to a well-informed citizenry; works to inspire and educate the next generation of journalists; and protects First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and press. For more information about SPJ, please visit spj.org.

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