Information & Perspective by Warren Woodward
(March 20, 2015)
Through years of experience with the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) I’ve learned that the agency simply cannot be trusted – ever. So, when I received emails from the ACC via a recent public records request, I was suspicious that some emails might be purposely missing. My suspicion was not unfounded.
I was also suspicious of the validity of the redactions made to the emails I did receive. How can one know the real reasons an email was censored? Again, one is left trusting, and trust is something the ACC has betrayed repeatedly. Again, my suspicion was not unfounded.
The ACC seems to have invented a new category for redaction. “Personal information,” “attorney/client privilege,” and “company sensitive information” are now joined by “state of mind.”
God only knows what a “state of mind” redaction is. Certainly the attorneys I’ve asked, including one at the Arizona Attorney General’s office, had no idea.
The beauty of this redaction is that it could apply to anything. After all, isn’t just about anything that’s written reflecting a “state of mind?” See the attached example. This type of redaction is common in the emails I received from the ACC.
Attached is another example of the ACC using a “free hand” with regard to redaction.
I found an email of which I received two copies from the ACC. One copy was redacted; the other one was evidently forgotten (lack of consistency is always problem for the dishonest).
Two ACC engineers, the comedy team of Ed Stoneburg & Margaret Little, were trying to figure out how power line communication (PLC) worked. (Notably, in the email exchange it’s also clear that neither of them know what high voltage transients, AKA dirty electricity, are. If they had just called me I could have told them.)
Little, in an apparent attempt at humor, suggested they needed to find a seminar in Hawaii that would explain it. In one copy of her email this was redacted as “personal information,” in the other copy it was not. The ACC censor messed up and missed censoring the other copy.
How is a joke about scamming taxpayers with a Hawaii trip considered “personal information?” One wonders, then, how valid are all the other redactions the ACC made?
Probably the worst example of ACC unethical behavior regarding my public records request is the withholding of emails altogether.
I made public records requests to the ACC, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) and the Arizona Radiation Regulatory Agency (ARRA). I asked for all emails and correspondence regarding the ADHS “smart” meter health study. It occurred to me after I wrote my recent response to the ACC’s “sample orders” that an email exchange discussed in my response, the one between ACC Executive Director Jodi Jerich and ADHS Director Will Humble, was not among the ACC emails I received. It was in the batch from the ADHS but not from the ACC.
The exchange is less than favorable to both Jerich and Humble. It showed that Jerich prejudiced the “smart” meter study before it was even voted for by the commissioners, and it showed that Humble “knew” the meters were safe even before the study commenced because his intuition told him so. (See pages 4 & 15, here: http://images.edocket.azcc.gov/docketpdf/0000162532.pdf )
I can only assume that the incriminating and embarrassing nature of this exchange is the reason it was not included in my request.
As with the bogus redactions, this withholding of the exchange causes me to wonder what other emails have been withheld. Like I said, I have learned that the ACC simply cannot be trusted.
Ironically, this week is Sunshine Week, “the annual nationwide celebration of access to public information and what it means for you and your community.” My guess is that they don’t celebrate it at the ACC.