The $250-an-Hour Mayor

by Categorized: Media, Politics, Transparency/FOI Tagged: , Date:

Vernon’s former part-time mayor, Jason L. McCoy, came up with a clever strategy last year for making it prohibitively expensive for the public to access records owned by the public.

In April, reporters from the Journal-Inquirer in Manchester requested copies of emails related to McCoy’s personal assistant, a recent college grad and Republican operative put on the town payroll at more than $26 an hour with no clear job duties.

The town responded with a bill for $950 representing the alleged cost of engaging an “outside contractor” to retrieve and copy the emails. That outside contractor? Mayor Jason L. McCoy, who decided that in fulfilling the request, he could doff his mayoral hat, retreat to his role as a private attorney, and rack up billables at $250 an hour.

That scheme earned him in a get-together with the Freedom of Information Commission, following a complaint by JI reporters Suzanne Carlson and Alex Wood, who should have his own nameplate in the commission’s hearing room for the number of recalcitrant public officials he’s had to drag through the process.

At the FOI hearing in October, McCoy promptly abandoned his get-rich-quick idea, and instead said through lawyers that he could do the job for his mayoral pay of $11 an hour, cutting the $950 bill down to $41.80.

The commission, which issued its final decision earlier this month, came up with its own figure, ruling that under the law, McCoy was entitled to charge exactly $0.00 an hour for the work he did fulfilling the request. They ordered the city to cough up the records for free, and to refrain from breaking the law in the future.

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