Archived Story

City critic gets trial date

Published 10:46pm Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Judge James A. Moore set a trial date in the matter of a city critic who is taking the city to court.

Christopher Dove has filed writs of mandamus or injunction in an attempt to force the city to comply with the state’s Freedom of Information Act.

He says the city has ignored a requirement to reconvene immediately in an open meeting after a closed meeting, refused to show him a document that should be open for inspection and delayed providing documents until the statutory five-day limit had almost expired.

Moore, who announced at the beginning of the docket he would not hear any contested cases on Wednesday, set the trial for Sept. 4 at 9 a.m. He also ordered Dove to file a bill of particulars — a summary of his evidence — to which the city will file its grounds of defense.

Moore set the trial so that Judge Alfred Bates, formerly with the city attorney’s office in Portsmouth, can hear the case.

“Trust me, you would not want me hearing this case,” Moore said, adding Bates is “extremely familiar with the nuances of FOIA.”

Moore added that the exchange of documents “might well clear it all up and resolve it ahead of time.”

Records Dove obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request show the City Council has obeyed the requirement to reconvene in an open meeting immediately after a closed meeting only seven times since June 17, 2009. It has delayed doing so on 80 occasions in the same time span.

Dove also says Planning and Community Development Department members refused to show him the plat for the Foxfield Meadows development near his home, and that the Freedom of Information Act office waits five days before providing documents it already has.

“I want a judge to tell me whether I’m wrong, because the evidence shows I’m right,” Dove said. “If we can’t rely on the city, the ones that enforce the law, to follow the law, then there is no law.”

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  • stown23437

    This guy seems like he likes the limelight a little too much with his attempt at comedy and sarcasm from tv. Thanks for wasting taxpayers dollars that you complain about by tying up funds for court costs.

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  • Roger Leonard

    Good luck Chris!!!

    I have in the past, also had complaints of how the FOIA Office has worked against open government and as an agent of the city administration to hide the facts, not provide access by the public. In Suffolk, FOIA stands for “Forget Our Ignorant Attempts” at government…

    Then there are the charges and delays by the FOIA Office, which are nothing more than a means to stifle public understanding and knowledge of the facts about how poorly run our local government is!

    I think I have paid well over a few thousand dollars, for information from Suffolk, I should have had access to for little if any cost to the city. Then the way council sessions are run, are by design set-up to inhibit the interactions of the public, not have “Open Government” as some of my friends on council describe.

    Over the years, this issue has gotten worse and worse. It presently is a shame and I wish you good luck in making them, make it right! Perhaps a fund to support such efforts, is in order…

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  • NP

    “If we can’t rely on the city, the ones that enforce the law, to follow the law, then there is no law.”

    How true. Unfortunately it looks as if the Federal way has filtered down to local politics and bureaucrats.
    Mr. Dove I wish you much luck.

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