FOIA Advisor

Q&A: Is something rotten in the state of California?

Q&A (2018)Allan BlutsteinComment

Q.  I formally requested copies of a [California] city's  bank reconciliations and the City sent the following response:  "The City has located responsive documents, but they are exempt from disclosure under California Government Code 6255.” No other explanation was given.  Since these are public taxpayer funds subject to full transparency, and the potential for embezzlement could be in the millions of dollars, can you please explain why this information would be exempt?

A.   Section 6255 of the California Government Code is a “catchall” exemption that agencies may rely upon when they can show that the public interest in nondisclosure clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure.  The following guidance from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press explains Section 6255 in more detail.  The League of California Cities also has issued guidance on the Public Records Act (including Section 6255) that might be instructive.