Upper Arlington records dispute unresolved

From This Week News The city of Upper Arlington and a resident who alleges the city illegally withheld a portion of an audio recording from a City Council retreat were unable to resolve their dispute through mediation last week.

A mediation teleconference held March 21 failed to settle Upper Arlington resident Robert Foulk's claim that the city violated state public records law when it refused to turn over 14 minutes of audio from a Jan. 10 retreat that Upper Arlington City Council held in Lewis Center.

Now the case has been assigned to an Ohio Court of Claims special master, who is expected to review written arguments before offering a recommendation as to whether the audio was legally withheld or if it should be made public.

After the impasse was reached last week, the city had 10 days to file its response to Foulk's claims that the redacted portion of the audio recording should be made public.

"We're not allowed to talk publicly about what happened in the mediation," said Mark Weaver, an attorney hired by the city. "On behalf of the city, we gave it a good try."

Foulk filed a claim Feb. 6 asking the Ohio Court of Claims to deem the redacted portion of the recording a public record after he requested a copy of the full recording from a Jan. 10 retreat.

In a filing with the court, Foulk's attorney, James Becker, said the city is permitted to withhold discussions that occur only in executive session, a procedure that bars the public from discussions of certain topics, including litigation or pending litigation.

"The minutes of UA's retreat confirm that at no time did City Council seek to meet in executive session," Becker stated in the complaint. "Thus, whatever UA mistakenly seeks to redact in the January 10, 2017 audio cannot be redacted since the statements were made in a public meeting."

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