Oct. 16--ST. LOUIS --State appeals court judges ruled Tuesday that anyone seeking St. Louis city payroll records must ask a dozen city agencies separately, despite the fact that the records are all available in one city department.
The three-judge panel of the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, unanimously decided that the records processed by the city's information technology department did not have to be released to the public.
Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce and Collector of Revenue Gregory F.X. Daly, who sued in 2011 to block the release of their offices' payrolls, issued a joint statement applauding the protection of their role as "gatekeepers."
"Everything is still accessible," Deputy Collector Thomas Vollmer said Tuesday. "You just have to go to the right person."
The ruling stems from a 2010 request by the Post-Dispatch for city pay records concerning more than a dozen public agencies in St. Louis, each of whose payroll was processed through the city's information technology department. After about a year of discussions, the office of Mayor Francis Slay agreed to release the records, and did, concerning many city offices.
But Joyce and Daly sued to block the distribution of their pay files. They said they had no problem giving the newspaper the records, but only through their offices. They argued the city IT department wouldn't know what was public.
In 2012, St. Louis Circuit Judge Joan Moriarty sided with the Post-Dispatch. Daly and Joyce appealed.
On Tuesday, Appeals Court Judge Sherri B. Sullivan filed her opinion. Judges Lawrence E. Mooney and Robert G. Dowd Jr. concurred.
Sullivan argued that the city IT department does not actually hold the records, but merely processes them.
Gilbert Bailon, editor of the Post-Dispatch, said he was "incredibly disappointed."
"This ruling would throw up additional obstacles for obtaining even the most basic of information concerning our public servants," he continued. "We are reviewing our options."
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