Transparency with distinction

I asked the state for two years of data. I received 13 years worth

Charles M. Kelly

Journalists are sometimes frustrated with the time it takes to get an answer to a question.  I believe the record was four months. The actual answer was 52 words long.

Well, I want to publicly thank the California Joint Powers Insurance Authority for going beyond the minimum. The CJPIA describes itself as one of the largest city self-insurance pools in the state. Seal Beach is one of the member cities.

With that in mind, on March 16, I requested two years’ worth of data about trip-and-fall claims in Seal Beach. This seemed like a logical place to look for evidence, so I made my request.

On March 21, I was advised I would have the information early the following week. The week came and went. On April 1 requested a status update.

On April 7, I saw that data, for free, in an Excel spreadsheet.

More to the point: I was given 13 years worth of data instead of the two years I had requested.

The spreadsheet was accompanied by an apology for being releasing the data a week later than anticipated. Listen, life happens. Besides, I’m inclined to forgive anyone who gives me more than I ask for.

I’m still in the research phase of the project, so I don’t yet know if I have a story or what form it will take. (Reporting is a bit like fishing; sometimes you don’t catch anything.)

But it seems to me that if I want to encourage government transparency, I ought to have the good grace to thank a government agency for going beyond granting the minimum request for information.

Thanks again, California Joint Powers Insurance Authority.

By the way, I sent the Insurance Authority some follow up questions.

I look forward to their reply.

Charles M. Kelly is associate editor of the Sun.

Transparency with distinction