According to the Los Angeles Times yesterday, a lawsuit has been filed against the City of Los Angeles by the First Amendment Coalition, a group that advocates for free speech and “open and accountable government.”
The suit contends that the apparent destruction of files by former City Council Member Tom La Bonge’s office violates the California Public Records Act. It stems from the discovery – after the FAC requested public records on the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the California Film Commission and a proposed development in Sherman Oaks – that records from Tom LaBonge’s City Council District Four office no longer existed, and were apparently shredded when LaBonge left office. Several dozen boxes of files were eventually found by the city, and returned to the office of City Council Member David Ryu, LaBonge’s successor, but more than 100 boxes are still unaccounted for and are believed to have been destroyed.
The Times story says, “The episode raised questions about whether L.A. has been complying with state law, which generally allows city governments to destroy some records if lawmakers and the city attorney approve, but not if the documents are unduplicated and less than 2 years old.” The Times also says that City Attorney Mike Feuer’s office has so far declined to comment on the suit…and LaBonge told the Times that he was not yet aware of it.