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Salina Journal Threatens The State Of Kansas With Litigation

The publisher and editor of the Salina Journal, M. Olaf Frandsen, says Kansas can avoid litigation...if the governor's office follows the state's open records laws and releases the name of candidates seeking one of two new seats on the Saline County Commission.

The Salina Journal has requested the names of 13 applicants for one of the two seats twice. Voters added the seats in the November 4th election and expanded the county commission from three to five members.

Both requests - one verbal and the other in writing - were denied.

Governor Brownback's Communications Director Eileen Hawley cited the "personnel records" section of the Kansas Open Records Act when denying the requests.

Frandsen said the applicants aren't yet employed by Saline County or the state, thus they are not personnel.

He also questioned how the names of applicants for a public position could be deemed an unwarranted invasion of privacy if state law considers the name, position and salary of every state and local government employee public record.

Frandsen says it would be simplest to avoid litigation, but "if the state wants to persist in withholding a record that is clearly in the public interest, then that's what we will have to do."

The appointees are to assume office Jan. 12.