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Attorney General: City of Covington Followed Rules in Firefighters' Request

A battle that started before last November's election is now finished and Kentucky Attorney General Andy Beshear determined that the City of Covington did nothing wrong in its handling of an open records request from the International Association of Firefighters Local 38, which represents members of the city's fire department.

Beshear's opinion, released Tuesday, stated that the City of Covington did not excessively delay the inspection of 895 emails requested by the union, where the terms of the request were changed midway through per the city's request, and that redaction of some information was necessary.

Ultimately, the City of Covington provided the records to the union within 24 days of the amended request.

Local 38, in late October, stated in a news release that City Hall was not cooperating with its open records request - the details of which were never fully released. Local 38 vowed to take the case to the Attorney General's office.

The City of Covington argued that the union's email request was excessive - amounting to more than 2,000 items, each of which would have to be inspected by legal staff. According to a statement from the city at the time, Local 38's request was for emails between city officials that excluded one city commissioner - making the task more complicated. Legal staff estimated it would take 250 hours to complete the work before the emails could be exchanged. 

Local 38 requested emails between city officials - but emails that excluded now-former city commissioner Steve Frank. 

The origin of the request appears to be related to how ambulance response times are characterized. In late October, the dispute spilled over to a city commission meeting where Local 38 president Mike Lee argued with then-Mayor Sherry Carran and city solicitor Frank Warnock about fire department staffing and response times. 

Beshear's office said that Local 38 could appeal to Kenton Circuit Court.

-Staff report