A copy of this letter was delivered Thursday to Maquoketa City Hall f or each city official listed.
TO: Maquoketa Mayor Don Schwenker, Maquoketa Councilwomen Jessica Kean and Erica Barker; Maquoketa Councilmen Kevin Kuhlman, Josh Collister, Ronald Horan Jr., Jacob Baker and Mark Lyon and City Manager Gerald Smith,
The purpose of this letter is to plead for your intervention – one last time – regarding the Maquoketa police chief’s denial of an official Freedom of Information request for video and audio associated with a police call early in the morning April 6 involving Assistant Jackson County Attorney Amanda Lassance. About two weeks ago, I made a similar request, which, as far as I can tell, has not led to any official action or reconsideration of the chief’s decision.
The Sentinel-Press is trying to avoid filing a lawsuit against the city, but you should understand the footage and audio police took at the scene belongs to the public. Taxpayers own the equipment police use in the course of their work and they also fund their salaries. Because of that, taxpayers have a fundamental right to the work product of the police. The Sentinel-Press believes strongly that the majority of the public agrees with that position.
Perhaps even more important is that Iowa’s public records laws, according to the legal experts we have consulted, clearly favor the position we are taking on behalf of the public. We do not relish the idea of filing a lawsuit against the city, but we are committed to seeing our investigation of this matter to its end.
In my view, it would be an obvious mistake for the city to defend against a lawsuit seeking the requested information. What good reason does the city have to withhold information that taxpayers own, and why would you spend public money to defend against such a request?
I beg you to reconsider the city’s position on this issue in a timely manner.