Story last updated at 1:41 p.m. Thursday, May 2, 2002

Annexation opponent sues city over document fees
by Joel Gay
Staff Writer

photo: news
Abigail Fuller  
Annexation opponent Abigail Fuller has sued the city over access to documents that she says may shed light on the controversial city expansion.

Actually, the city has agreed to let her look through the two boxes of paperwork -- provided she pays $354.

City Manager Ron Drathman said he spent nearly a full day going through the boxes document by document to ensure the city wasn't releasing papers it shouldn't, and charged her for his time.

"The city just can't be held hostage by people who want to terrorize the city," he said.

Fuller said she has lost track of all the times she has asked the city for annexation documents. One request is now before the Alaska Supreme Court.

In the meantime, she continues to seek documents, some of which the city has given up and others it has not, she said. A portion of the documents deal with annexation, but she also "is just keeping an eye on the city," Fuller said. "Some of this is trying to get them not to do it in the future, rather than just getting records."

Last October she put in an omnibus request for six items, including the city's capital improvement project list, the harbor Transfer of Responsibility Agreement and plans for water and sewer main extensions out East End Road.

Also on the list were two boxes of files, plus "any boxes in inactive storage containing annexation related material from 1998, 1999 and 2000."

Fuller said she is happy to pay the city's 25-cents-per-page copying fee, as well as a research fee <> the city offers the first five hours every month free. But when the city presented her a $354 bill for Drathman's review time, it was too much, she said.

"It's his lawyer instinct trying to keep things secret, but that's not how you should run a city," Fuller said. Drathman walked as a private lawyer before becoming city manager.

"I don't know what's in (the boxes)," Fuller said. "It may turn out that it's totally non-interesting, but I won't know until I see them."

Drathman said the city files contain all manner of documents, some of which cannot, by statute, be made public. Some documents may not be reviewed by other city employees, he said, so he spent 7.25 hours going through the two boxes <> each of which is "the size of a small filing cabinet."

He then authorized Fuller to look through the files, provided she pays the bill.

Fuller filed suit in Superior Court last Wednesday to dismiss the city's invoice.

It's no surprise that Drathman blames her, she said, "but it's his own fault, because he's not releasing things that should be released."

Drathman disagreed. "She has no right to cruise through those boxes," he said. "We'll be happy to litigate this."