Louisiana Town Clerk Calls Cops on PINAC Reporter Making Public Records Request

It may sound crazy to someone who doesn’t regularly participate in the decision-making process of the government that people like me would feel the need to be informed about what government officials are doing in our name and at our expense.
Those of us who actively participate in the process are generally labeled by public officials and their supporters as being disruptive; unruly troublemakers hell bent on tearing the community apart. It’s a common attitude that people like myself face and it scares away many people who may be interested in what the government is doing.
That was the attitude I faced from a small-town clerk in Welsh, Louisiana Tuesday when I made a public records request for documents pertaining to the creation of a separate bank account the town had set up outside of the general fund for the collection of certain fines and fees.
The account did not include a line item on the budget to track it and it appeared that the chief was overspending his budget by more than five percent without making the necessary amendments.  It was a simple mistake that would have been easily corrected.
In this instance, the clerk seemed upset that anyone would even question her, even though I never accused her of anything and truly believed the mistake could easily be corrected.  I only asked to see the record so that I could make my own educated decision, but I don’t think the clerk respected that and she was sure to let me know.
This record’s request was unlike anything I have ever seen before, and I’ve been making public records request for at least 15 years.  The clerk, Stephanie Benoit, began our interaction by being rude on the phone when I called to follow up on the records request that I sent to the city’s email account. 


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