Shooting The Messenger In Cuyahoga County

Gary Starr, the mayor of Middleburg Heights Ohio filed a federal lawsuit earlier this week, contending that the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (there is a joke here about the dirty politics up that way, but I will pass) violated his First Amendment rights when it threatened to discipline him for disclosing to a reporter details surrounding a $3 billion settlement with the EPA. It appears that the Sewer District believes discipline was in order because at the time Starr talked to the reporter the settlement agreement had not been finalized and had been given to the Sewer District as a confidential document. And that’s where I’m confused. The Sewer District is a public body, and records it receives are subject to the Ohio Public Records Act. That includes draft settlement agreements. And the public body can’t enter a confidentiality agreement that trumps the Public Records Act. So was Starr disciplined for talking about a matter of public record? If so, something stinks. And I’m not talking about the sewage.