A judge has denied a request by the Palo Alto Weekly for reports written by an outside investigator about a scandal that rocked the Palo Alto city Utilities Department, resulting in the discipline of 19 employees including six who lost their jobs. The employees were accused of doing private jobs for homeowners, often using city equipment, while on the clock for the city. Judge Kevin McKenney granted two of the paper’s requests — for documents regarding time-card falsification and personnnel records for each employee “disciplined for inadequate or abusive management.” But two reports written by an outside investigator are to be kept confidential due to attorney-client privilege. According to the Palo Alto Daily News, the Weekly requested 1,900 pages of documents and the judge released just 25 pages, or about 1 percent. Weekly publisher Bill Johnson called the ruling a “split decision” and said he is considering an appeal. The Weekly said up front that it wouldn’t seek the names of the employees who were disciplined, and the judge agreed the paper wouldn’t be getting that information.

SF Press Club News

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