In November, the Calaveras Planning Coalition made a Public Records Act request to the Planning Department for the release of the Mintier-Harnish draft general plan. That draft was the product of four years of work, during which hundreds of citizens contributed input and the cost to taxpayers was more than $900,000. Both the previous planning director and current Planning Director Peter Maurer have refused multiple informal requests to let anyone see the document.

The formal request under the Public Records Act was rejected, via a letter from the county counsel. When the Planning Coalition sought to appeal the decision to the planning commission, the next step provided for by county code, Maurer denied the right to appeal on the basis that the decision to refuse the request was not made by anyone on the Planning Department staff. Hmmm.

The county counsel can defend a decision to deny a Public Records Act request – which it did – but lacks authority to make such a decision, and the planning director says no one on that department’s staff made the decision. So, a perfect Catch 22: You cannot appeal the denial, because no one will acknowledge they made the denial, so therefore the denial stands. This is stonewalling as high art. It would almost be impressive if it were not so dispiriting.

Penny Sarvis

Murphys

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