Response from Culver City' City Attorney's Office For Public Records Request
September 9, 2021
Dear Mr. Ostrin:
This letter is a follow up to my August 30, 2021 extension letter to you and in response to your August 20, 2021 request for City records under the California Public Records Act, Government Code section 6250 et seq. The City is conducting a diligent search for disclosable responsive records that are in the possession, custody or control of the City. Below are the requests contained in your letter, and the City’s response to each.
Request 1. “…[A]ll documentation that evidences the expense the City is incurring because of the Hospital Hero Pay Ordinance lawsuit.
The documentation requested, including billing invoices and/or the aggregate amount expended by the City on current/active litigation, is exempt under the attorney client privilege (Government Code section 6254(k); Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors v. Superior Court (2016) 2 Cal.5th 282, 297-298). In the interest of transparency, however, and without waiving the attorney-client privilege or any other privilege or exemption, the amount expended on attorney fees and litigation costs in the above referenced lawsuit, through July 31, 2021, is $101,291.12.
Request 2. “…[A]ll communications to the City or the Councilmembers or staff that request that Councilmembers Fisch and/or Lee resign or that they be recalled.”
Ronald E. Ostin September 8, 2021
(1) As to any communications that request that Mayor Fisch or Vice Mayor Lee “resign”, the City ran a search going back approximately six months, and will produce all non-exempt responsive records, with any non- responsive portions redacted, i.e., those portions that do not pertain to City business (Government Code section 6252(e)), and any portions redacted where the public interest in non-disclosure outweighs the public interest in disclosure, such as personal contact information of third parties (Government Code section 6255). Records that fall under the attorney- client communication or any other statutory privilege will not be produced (Government Code section 6254(k). Those emails and public comment documents are being compiled and reviewed.
(2) As to documents that requests a “recall” of Mayor Fisch or Vice Mayor Lee, the word “recall” appears often in another context, and even when combined with either of the names Fisch or Lee a search has yielded over 2300 emails, since approximately March 1, 2021. There is no way to define “recall” to only apply to the meaning of an election. For instance, “recall” is used often in sentences such as “I recall a few weeks ago we discussed that topic.” It is unreasonably burdensome for City staff to attempt to review over 2300 emails to determine which are responsive. “A clearly framed request which requires an agency to search an enormous volume of data for a “needle in the haystack” or, conversely, a request which compels the production of a huge volume of material may be objectionable as unduly burdensome. (American Civil Liberties Union Foundation v. Deukmejian (1982) 32 Cal.3d 440). Notwithstanding the foregoing, the City Clerk’s office and City Attorney’s office are conducted manual reviews of correspondence contained in public comment. In addition, we are conducting a search specifically of the email accounts of Mayor Fisch or Vice Mayor Lee and will transmit those to you after review. If you have additional suggestions on how to narrow your search to reduce the volume of documents, please let me know.
Thank you for your cooperation.
CAROL A. SCHWAB, CITY ATTORNEY
Lisa A. Vidra
By: Lisa A. Vidra
Senior Deputy City Attorney