The California Public Records Act does not require a request for records to be in writing.
The Act requires that records not exempt from disclosure be made available "upon a request for a copy of records that reasonably describes an identifiable record or records?"
From: Gustafson, Craig
Sent: Thursday, December 13, 2012 1:17 PM
To: Lewis, Lena
Subject: mayor's staff
I'm doing a roundup of changes in City Council staffing. I'd like to include the Mayor's Office hires. Can I get a list of the mayor's staff? That was promised last week, but I still haven't seen anything.
From: Gustafson, Craig
Sent: Friday, December 14, 2012 12:23 PM
To: 'Lewis, Lena'
Any chance I can get the mayor's staff list? I see on Twitter that Irene McCormick was hired to be director of communications. Filner keeps saying he's going to be open with the press, but he won't even confirm who's working for him. What hires has he made? I've asked several times now.
Filner claimed at the press conference that Gustafson asked only, "Do you have your team ready?"
"And I said we're not ready yet," Filner said he told Gustafson. "Several times we did have press conferences scheduled for this. I was going to announce what we had. The first time was the Connecticut shooting, so we had to change that, then the holidays interfered."
Indeed, Filner had a press conference scheduled for Dec. 14, the day of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. Billed as "City Travel Moratorium," the press conference was cancelled. Dec. 14 was the day Gustafson made his second request. So, the information was apparently ready for a press conference, but not ready to give to a reporter.
"And the Public Records Act request gives you some time," Filner told the media today. "I have 10 days or something. The first time the PRA came up was Dec. 27, and [on] Dec. 28 was an article that accused me of violating the law."
According to CalAware's Guide to Journalism Law in California, "Delay is allowed only to resolve good faith doubts as to whether all or part of a record is accessible by the public..... Access is to be provided 'promptly,' not put off for 10 days."
Filner finally admitted that he could have released the information sooner, but wanted to show off his new staff all at once.
"I could have said at any point who we hired and what," he said at the press conference, "but I wanted to give the full team, as you saw today, so you have a picture of what I'm trying to do as mayor. That was my only intent in delaying it."