JEFFERSON – The Marion County Sheriff’s Department (MCSO) failed to meet another 10-day deadline for a Texas Public Information Act (TPIA) request by the Jimplecute.
This brings the total of missed deadlines to six with four still outstanding: June 24, July 1, July 2 and July 8.
On Tuesday, 11 days have passed since the Jimplecute initially requested “to inspect or obtain” the following via certified mail on July 8: routine jail logs, daily blotter reports and incident reports for July 1 through July 7.
In a letter dated and mailed June 25, Jimplecute Publisher Mica Wilhite informed McKnight, “USPS is acceptable as is hand delivery. The Jimplecute will no longer respond to phone calls alerting us that requested materials are ready for us to pick up in an effort to show good faith.”
The requests can be answered by email or other electronic means as well as paper.
In an effort to further show good faith and in response to McKnight’s engagement on a July 18 Facebook post regarding three earlier missed TPIA deadlines, the Jimplecute sent a package of 75 9”x12″ envelopes and a roll of stamps (100 stamps) via certified mail to ensure the department had adequate office supplies to fulfill the request.
“As a newspaper, we value the information we are requesting from governmental organizations more than the manner or mechanism in which it is accessed and we act on every piece of information that will legally facilitate and expedite that goal. To that end, office supplies will be sent to the MCSO Custodian of Records today. As for the MCSO Custodian of Records job performance and adherence to the TPIA requests dated June 24, July 1 and July 2, that is for the AG’s [Attorney General’s] office to evaluate when his case comes up,” Wilhite said July 19 in a comment to the July 18 Facebook post.
The Jimplecute broke the news June 6 that McKnight had been untruthful when he said the MCSO Facebook page had been hacked on April 24. Text messages to Chief Deputy Frank Cason revealed he admitted making the post himself.
“I’m sick of the Elmer stuff, I’m not getting into that. I’m doing my best to comply with what y’all are asking be done,” McKnight said in a June 13 phone interview in response to the first missed TPIA deadline in May.
McKnight continued with his complaints to the Jimplecute.
“There’s a whole lot difference in an honest oversight, or an honest one or two days later, I don’t care what it is. Every time we turn around y’all got to hammer us on something. I tried to tell Bob [Palmer] … forget the Elmer deal. When y’all hammered us from the second dog incident, he could go verify with the guy that bought the land. Y’all have never printed a word of that.
“Todd Winn was sitting up there, he asked me if y’all were coming to talk to me. You never made an effort to talk to him and he was up there every day.”
On April 11, the Jimplecute reported that 80 dogs had to be rescued from Island View Landing property owned by Todd Winn, a businessman who had recently purchased the property and evicted the current squatters and tenants. The Jimplecute visited the property during the same week to interview dog rescuer April Ratcliff, but did not see Winn. The Jimp called Winn on April 10 and left a request for comment, but Winn has never responded.
When told of McKnight’s claim deputies assisted in the dog rescue at Island View, Ratcliff said that when she arrived on the scene the deputy who was there drove away.
The Jimplecute had received previous TPIA requested documents by walking over to the MCSO office in good faith. Other Marion County and City of Jefferson officials have complied with requests via hand delivery or mail via USPS to the Jimplecute office without exception.
“Nobody likes to track and report on documentation at this level of detail, but Sheriff McKnight works for the citizens of Marion County. We report this information so they will be informed about how their MCSO is being managed by its department head,” Wilhite said in late June.
Formal complaints for each of the missed TPIA requests have been filed with the Attorney General’s Open Records office.
A log of all active TPIAs from the Jimplecute to various governmental agencies in Marion County is published on the Classified page of the paper each week.
Prior to May 2, the Marion County Sheriff’s Department and Jefferson Police Department reported jail logs and call type reports to the Jimplecute on a weekly basis without a TPIA.
“The residents of Marion County have told the Jimplecute how important this information is to them especially as taxpayers. The Jimplecute is staffed with a group of professionals with decades of management experience. We are working with a TPIA attorney and a Texas Press Association TPIA consultant. We know how this situation ends, but we do not think Sheriff McKnight does,” Wilhite said Tuesday.
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