Reader Opinion: Wasteful legal spending
The Minnesota Data Practices Office does an excellent job for both citizens and local units of government. The DPO is a useful Minnesota taxpayer funded agency, unless, of course, a county, school district or city decide to use your local tax dollars to pay their highly paid legal counsel to respond to what are, in fact, simple data requests.
Some data is not public or may be considered private, but paying for legal counsel to review or examine every request for public data at taxpayer's expense is nothing short of smacking hard working taxpayers in the face.
If you want to learn more about a project or perhaps how policy might have been formulated, then you have the right to find out under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act.
When school district’s aren’t certain if the requested data is allowed to be provided, all they need to do (in lieu of paying for private legal counsel) is to email the DPO and run their questions up the flagpole.
The DPO will assist and provide unbiased opinions and excellent advice on issues.
Of course the DPO doesn't eliminate local government’s need for legal counsel, but it is far more financially responsible to access this agency instead of throwing away taxpayer's money on unnecessary legal expenses.
In the past few years, the Brainerd School District has wasted tens of thousands of dollars for legal counsel to respond to simple requests for public data.
Why would ISD 181 do this when there’s an excellent resource available at their fingertips that will provide similar assistance as would their private legal counsel?
It appears the Brainerd School District isn't interested in unbiased opinions and are more interested in trying to hide something from the public.
You be the judge. What do their actions suggest?