DISNEY, OK —
Disney Mayor Judy Barger said Coats started by requesting fire department records, but later requested city records.
“They are all there, we've done nothing wrong,” said Barger. “We've only got one clerk and he requested five years’ worth of records and it takes a while to gather them up.”
Barger said the town clerk made copies of some of the records but Coats never showed up to retrieve them.
The Open Records Act says that “A public body must provide prompt, reasonable access to its records but may establish reasonable procedures which protect the integrity and organization of its records and prevent excessive disruption of its essential function.”
“He was requesting documents that have social security numbers on them, and I don't think he, or anyone else, should have access to them,” said Barger. “We told him it would take a bit to gather everything up and find out what to do about records with sensitive information.”
According to the Open Records Act, in the case of personnel records a public body may keep confidential anything which relates to internal personnel investigation in certain situations and any documents where disclosure would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. It further states that public bodies shall keep confidential the “home address, telephone numbers and social security numbers of any person employed currently or formerly employed by the public body.”
Barger said she knows this is not the first lawsuit Coats has filed, and she does not understand his motivation. She said the town never told him he could not have access to the records, just that he must go through the proper procedure.
“All we're trying to do is better our town and better our fire department. We didn't do anything to these guys [Coats and the county commissioners]. They are on a witch hunt and we're caught in the middle,” said Barger.