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Documents obtained, but some details remain hidden

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: August 23, 2013 - 12:24 PM

I wrote this morning about the case of Greg Stubbs, Minneapolis' former regulatory chief who resigned amid accusations of gender discrimination and being an absent boss.

It took a year to obtain the documents, because a change in the state's open records law was necessary to define Stubbs and other top Minneapolis appointees as "public officials." 

But redactions were rampant. The 58-page human resources investigation document, for example, may be about 70 percent redacted (see photo at right).

Learning just what is underneath those redactions is no simple task. The first option is to request an explanation of the redactions.

When we asked city officials to explain the redactions, city spokesman Matt Laible wrote simply: "The redactions in the documents are based on Minnesota Statutes, Section 13.43." 

That's referencing the personnel section of the state's data practices act, one of the act's most important sections, which includes a litany of important subsections.

We asked for a more specific explanation for the redactions -- since 13.43 is a wide ranging statute -- and here is what we were told:

In general, redactions were made to the Stubbs HR investigation and Ethics investigation under Minnesota Statutes, Sections 13.43, subds. 1, 2 and 4 and 13.601, subd. 3.

Some of the reasons for the redactions are listed below, with the bulk of the redactions related to the first two bullet points:

• Private personnel data, such as performance data on employees other than Stubbs; home addresses of employees or former employees, etc.

• Complainant identity data of co-workers (see Demers v. City of Minneapolis, 468 N.W.2d 71 (Minn. 1991) and Department of Administration IPAD Advisory Opinions ## 96-002 and 06-010)

• E-mail addresses and phone numbers of Ethics Board Members. These were redacted under Section 13.601. If you would like to contact any of the Ethics Board Members, we can provide you with the public contact information.

Beyond that, options are limited. The next step would be to file a lawsuit and have a judge review the redacted documents -- a costly and likely lengthy process.

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