The "cookies," or electronic files placed on the hard drives of city
government computers by Internet sites accessed by those computers,
may or may not be public, said Gail Fowler, assistant to City Manager Jimmy
Shipley. Rather than release files that may not be public, Fowler has chosen
to disregard the state open records law that says files not specifically
exempt in writing are to be accessible during normal
The cookie files could show whether taxpayers are footing the bill for city employee access to Internet sites focusing on such issues as white supremacy, pornography, white slavery, homosexual lifestyle, communism, satanism, sodomy, bestiality, incest, pedophilia, how to misuse local government authority, adultery, desecration of the United States flag, the anti-christ and heroin.
Shipley, who has led the city into four civil rights suits in his brief stint as city manager, clearly does not want The Pit to have those files. The denial flies in the face of a written policy provided by City Attorney T. Michael O'Mara stating that city records would be provided in the form they are maintained.
Shipley at first demanded a "deposit" of hundreds of dollars before he would provide access to the files, a policy unheard of in recent history. Then Fowler stated that even when the cash was paid, in advance, the files would be kept secret. The city is apparently desperately trying to locate someone who can justify withholding the material.
Fowler, who has avoided civil rights suits so far, said it was not clear whether the files are public, "and I'm not turning over anything that isn't public."
According to state law, all records unless specifically exempted are to be accessible to the public during regular business hours. But Fowler said she had taken it upon herself to withhold access to the files until her sources determined whether the public is entitled to know such information.
Apparently, Fowler is looking for someone to state that it is not the public's business if city officials and employees while away work hours surfing Web sites dealing with topics like white supremacy, pornography, white slavery, homosexual lifestyle, communism, satanism, sodomy, bestiality, incest, pedophilia, how to misuse local government authority, adultery, desecration of the United States flag, the anti-christ and how to use heroin at work.
The Pit filed a public records request to see the records more than two weeks ago, but Fowler and Shipley have balked at the public's access to the city's computers. Instead, Shipley announced that the city's computers would be down, then that the person responsible or the computers would not be working.
"This is simply a way for Shipley to impede the gathering of information about what may be wasted employee time on the job." said Geoff Davidian, Pit editor.
Davidian said that "cookie files are like city phone bills -- they are records of government communications, and like phone bills, they have historically been public.
"It is an insult to every voter and every taxpayer when the government
blows off their right to know where their money goes," Davidian said. "The
city is continuing its sleazy little game of funneling tax money to O'Mara
to hide evidence of the government's wrongdoing. O'Mara and Shipley think
people don't understand that they are just trying to perpetuate the good
ol' boy system and making taxpayers pay the bill."
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