(08/19/2010)
By Bob Weaver

The Hur Herald has spent weeks attempting to obtain public information regarding what road improvements have been approved for Calhoun County in 2010.

That information, over the years, has generally been available in a timely manner.

Calhoun DOH administrator Chuck Holmes did not respond to numerous phone calls to his office to assist in obtaining the information.

The failure to respond to phones calls by Mr. Holmes led to the issuance of a Freedom of Information request by the Herald, which was also issued to Rusty Roten, District Engineer in Parkersburg.

In addition to the official request, Mr. Roten declined to return a phone call when the Herald was attempting to obtain the information, but eventually did respond to say that "Charleston is in charge of all that."

When reminded that time limits had expired on the FOIA request, Roten appeared to want to discuss some projects, but was advised a list of approved projects, their costs and contractor list was the official request.

Roten was told that the citizens of the Calhoun County would appreciate having that information.

The Herald's recourse is to bring a civil suit against the WVDOH parties for violating the state's public information laws, information that should readily be available.

Citizens have the same right as media outlets to obtain the information or issue Freedom of Information requests.

In WV, there is no penalty for elected officials or government bureaucrats for failing to respond.

This week, the U.S. Department of Justice has issued subpoenas to obtain documents from the state Division of Highways.

See SUNSHINE ON YOUR SHOULDER - Public Information Fading, News Becomes Entertainment


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