State top court rejects appeal from SB County

The state Supreme Court has refused to hear San Bernardino County's appeal of a trial court's order to disclose documents related to the activities of top county officials.

San Bernardino Superior Court Judge John P. Wade last month ordered the county to release redacted calendars, two e-mails and logs of documents sought by The Sun and the California First Amendment Coalition in a lawsuit against the county.

The county turned over the calendars and e-mails, but appealed the order to disclose the logs, arguing that to do so would compromise documents that weren't ordered released - nearly 100 e-mails and numerous entries in the calendars.

After the 4th District Court of Appeal rejected the county's request for a stay on Wade's order, county attorneys petitioned the state Supreme Court, which denied the request on Wednesday.

County spokesman David Wert declined to comment Thursday.

The Sun and the First Amendment Coalition sued the county after county lawyers refused to release calendars and communications of former Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Postmus and calendars of current Chairman Paul Biane, the only other supervisor to withhold his calendars.

The newspaper first requested the documents after county officials gave conflicting accounts of Postmus' activities during the Sawtooth and Millard fires, which burned 80,000 acres and destroyed more than 50 homes in July 2006.

Some said he was on a family vacation but in constant contact with top county officials coordinating the county's response to the fires, while others said he was absent without explanation.

County lawyers initially refused to provide any documentation at all of Postmus' contact with other county officials. Since then, the county has provided a handful of e-mails written to Postmus, and under court order, redacted versions of his calendar.

None of the documents released give any indication of Postmus' activities during the fires, and according to county attorneys, there are no communications or records of communications between Postmus and other county officials in June and July 2006.

Despite Wade's order to turn over the logs "forthwith" and two higher court denials, county attorneys have yet to turn over the logs.

Frank Pine is senior managing editor of The Sun. Reach him via e-mail at frank.pine@sbsun.com or by phone at (909) 386-3841.

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