Dyer: Denied access to Apache Junction records? E-mail me what happened, when

Have you been denied access to public records that the City of Apache Junction retains as a municipality?

Richard Dyer

If yes, please e-mail me at rdyer@newszap.com with when it was, what you asked for and what the city said when it denied you access.

For a story on out-of-court settlements, I e-mailed the municipality asking for what I thought was a simple request — a five-year snapshot of out-of-court settlements, including when it was filed, when the settlement was made, how much was the settlement, claimant, description of loss or claim and the department. I sought the records for the years 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

City Clerk Kathy Connelly in e-mails denied the request because it was a research project.

Then I found out that the city contracts with a business to handle losses from out-of-court settlements; that yes, the information could be provided; and yes the city would make it available.

It got me thinking: If the city denied me a records request that someone else could provide, maybe other area residents had similar situations.

So send me an e-mail. I’d like to learn what you have sought and were turned down for.

***

Also in the denying access department: The Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo committee had a new requirement for 2019 for media outlets and photographers — sign a contract or not be allowed to have all-access media credentials to take photographs.

The rodeo is put on by an all-volunteer committee on city-leased land that is owned by the Bureau of Land Management.

The LDD Rodeo contract said: “A letter of intent must be submitted from every photographer or their media outlet’s editor. If you are a professional, the letter should outline your plan of usage for the photos taken and also provide a brief description of what they are offering as far as coverage of the event. For hobby photographers, a brief outline or description of why you’re interested in shooting Lost Dutchman Days and how you intend to use the photos.”

Also, it stated:

  • If using our name (Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo) for any other kind of advertising (ex. events, blog posts, social posts, news articles), you must mention or tag Lost Dutchman Days in the advertisement, no exceptions.
  • You agree not to use any photos taken during the event in a negative fashion, or in any other way that could result in the defamation of Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo character.
  • You agree to provide access to digital copies of any and all photographs taken during the show to PR Manager, Krysta Paffrath, at the email listed above, if they are requested.

It ended with “Failure to comply with any of the above terms is considered breach of contract and may result in legal action and you may be banned from any and all future Lost Dutchman Days events.”

Media credentials were only to be given if the contract was signed, it stated.

Prior to the rodeo, I e-mailed Ms. Paffrath about why the Lost Dutchman Days committee was requiring that the photos be made available to them on request; why they were requiring anyone using “Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo” for news articles or online posts mention or tag “Lost Dutchman Days,” with no exceptions; and who determined if a photo taken at the event had defamed the Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo character?

“Most events that are our size have contracts like this in place and due to our incident last year, it was decided to put in a procedure that would allow us to know who was on the property taking pictures and how those pictures were being used,” she said.

“The photos will remain the property of whoever took them, but if for whatever reason, there was questionable activity being photographed, we, the committee should have access to those photos for legal reasons or otherwise,” Ms. Paffrath said in an e-mail.

“As far as your request as to why we require Lost Dutchman Days to be mentioned in news articles or media that are published with our photos or name; we, as a committee, should be able to know what publications are being released in order to verify correct or false information that is being released to the public,” she said.

“Questionable content will be discussed between the chairman and myself and any other relevant personnel. This contract has been put in place as a general security measure for all media outlets wanting to cover the Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo,” she said.

In a second e-mail, I asked “What incident? What questionable activity was photographed last year?”

She replied: “The questionable activity was in regards to future events, not something that specifically happened last year. If you plan on having a photographer attend, I need the contract by tomorrow latest.”

Restricting the press is not OK. We will not be forced to provide digital images of photographs. We will not be required to use a certain tag in social media and we will not pause before taking a photo that may defame the Lost Dutchman Days Rodeo name.

The Apache Junction/Gold Canyon Independent didn’t fill out and sign the contract, so for the first time in years we were not issued all-access media credentials.

I snapped photos from the stands at the free morning slack for barrel-racing on Sunday, Feb. 24.

Since I didn’t sign the contract restricting my usage of the photos, when I used one with the online posting of the rodeo results, I didn’t feel compelled to use the required #LostDutchmanDays tag.

Maybe I will be banned from attending the rodeo next year. Oh, right. I didn’t sign it, so it’s not a breach of contract.

Editor Richard Dyer can be reached at rdyer@newszap.com

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