The Lens, a local nonprofit news organization, has sued the city of New Orleans in Civil District Court, alleging that the city has routinely violated state law by withholding or delaying the release of public records.
Over the past two years, the lawsuit says, the city has failed to provide records within the three-day window required of government agencies for two-thirds of requests from the news organization. Five requests filed in January have yet to be filled, it says.
Among the outstanding requests, according to the lawsuit, is one for monthly and quarterly financial reports on the NOLA for Life fund submitted to the city by the Greater New Orleans Foundation.
The lawsuit says the city “attempts to mask its failure to respond (by) using a form letter stating that it is reviewing the records for ‘public information’ and for information which is ‘not otherwise exempt from the public records law.’ ”
The lawsuit, filed by The Lens and reporters Charles Maldonado and Abram Handler, has been assigned to Judge Kern Reese. In addition to the city, the suit names Mayor Mitch Landrieu as a defendant.
The suit asks the court to order the city to turn over the requested records immediately and to prohibit it from continuing to violate the law.