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WEB EXCLUSIVE: White Castle plans to follow judge's order regarding records requests

7 months 4 weeks 1 day ago April 06, 2016 Apr 6, 2016 Wednesday, April 06 2016 April 06, 2016 10:44 AM in News
Source: WBRZ
By: Michael Shingleton & Hunter Robinson

WHITE CASTLE - White Castle town officials agreed to adhere to orders from a district judge to better handle public records requests in the future after two citizens filed a lawsuit against the town in late 2015.

The council, mayor, town clerk and town attorney spent more than two hours in executive session Tuesday night to discuss how to better handle public records requests.

"We have come to the conclusion that we will develop a new policy and ordinance for public records requests," Mayor Jemarr Williams says.

All of this is because of a lawsuit filed against the town by June Landry and Garnell Young in November 2015 after they were denied access to public records. They won that lawsuit in March and the judge ordered the town to turn over the records they requested and that they develop a better plan for fulfilling public records requests.

"Since you guys have aired you report, we have been getting a lot of derogatory and harassing phone calls and emails regarding public records requests, so we have decided to scrap our previous policy and start a new," City Attorney Valencia Vessel-Landry explains.

That new policy includes developing a new, user-friendly ordinance for public records. The town has already begun using a new public records request form.

Monica Hamilton, who was named in the lawsuit, is the White Castle Custodian of Public Record. She'll now have some help with records requests, since the town plans to repurpose a current city employee to assist with fulfilling those.

"We realize that there have been shortcomings in regards to public records, and we will rectify this situation," the mayor said.

Now, White Castle leaders say they're ready to put this situation behind them.

"We don't want a negative light to be shed on the town of White Castle," Vessel-Landry says. "These are good people. The town is supporting us. The mayor is doing an excellent job. We just want to be treated fairly."

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