The fire district, as too many government bodies often are in Missouri, has been slow to respond to their requests. They got some information from looking at minutes for old meetings. For instance, the district has a program where it sells old equipment — including SUVs and ambulances — to employees, at apparently significant discounts. The Guytons sought the details: bids, sales records, and the like.
The Guytons wanted to know where the money was going. With some of their neighbors they formed a nonprofit called Residents of Hazelwood Inc., and they filed some Sunshine Law requests to get answers. “I wanted to see the facts,” Dave says.
That’s why earlier this month, Residents of Hazelwood filed an open records lawsuit against the fire district.
They didn’t get the records.
“Plaintiff Residents for Hazelwood, Inc., has requested the defendants (Robertson Fire Protection District, its custodian of records, and its secretary) many times to make available or produce the district’s public records pursuant to Missouri’s freedom of information statutes,” the lawsuit, filed by attorney Paul Martin, alleges. “The defendants have failed or refused many of these requests, preventing the plaintiff from investigating, assessing, and disclosing the district’s expenditure of public funds and their use of district resources.”