Tension Between Carbondale City Departments

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By Fanna Haile-Selassie
By Andy Shofstall

CARBONDALE - A tension seems to be growing between Carbondale city officials, and it stems from the theft of the police chief's personal handgun. Leaders are expected to discuss the issue again in a closed door meeting at Tuesday's city council meeting.

Documents obtained on the issue indicate that the trouble started when the Carbondale police chief announced a possible link between his missing handgun and the one used in a shooting three weeks ago. Since then, communication between the police department, city clerk's office and the city manager's office has been terse.

Just last week, City Manager Allen Gill, removed the Carbondale City Clerk from any public records requests relating to the police department. The City Clerk's position includes serving as the Freedom of Information Act Officer for all city departments.

The crux of the dilemma can be summarized in an obtained email sent by City Clerk Rachael Keehn, regarding Deputy Chief Jeff Grubbs:

"The disagreement between myself and the PD was that D.C. Grubbs refuses to send the report to me when he believes that a request should be denied. As Freedom of Information Officer, it is my responsibility to determine whether a request is to be denied and under which exemption."

She goes on to explain, "The problem is that there have been reports that he wanted me to deny as 'on-going investigations' when, in fact, they were not."

Another email addresses a request for more information on any reports of Chief O'Guinn's stolen gun. In response to the request, Deputy Chief Grubbs accuses Keehn of already leaking the information.

"The release of this report would have been denied, as it is an open investigation that has been linked to an open homicide investigation. Since it has already been released by you, I do not see where a denial would be appropriate."

The documents also show one week ago, Councilman Chris Wissman got wind of these FOIA problems and called for a closed door meeting Tuesday night after the regular council meeting to "rectify staff's failure to promptly comply with the Freedom of Information Act."
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