Maneke: Withheld e-mail ‘probably exempt’ under Sunshine Law

Maneke: Withheld e-mail probably exempt under Sunshine Law

Alexandra Nicolas / The Chart

Maneke: Withheld e-mail ‘probably exempt’ under Sunshine Law

An e-mail withheld by Missouri Southern from an open-records request made by The Chart but obtained from an anonymous source shows that the proposed medical school initiative with Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences has been in doubt since at least February.

The e-mail, from the president of KCUMB, Danny Weaver, to University President Bruce Speck, is dated Feb. 25 and expresses doubt that a proposed partnership with Southern would move forward.

“Speaking candidly, if a vote were taken today, it would fail!!,” Weaver wrote in the message.

The Chart requested all e-mail correspondence between Speck and Weaver and between Speck and Karen Pletz, the former president of KCUMB, who was fired in December, for the last two years. The request was acknowledged by University officials on March 15, and the documents were turned over to The Chart on April 7.

The Chart received a copy of the Feb. 25 e-mail from Weaver to Speck from an anonymous source today. The e-mail was not included in documents provided by Southern although it falls within the scope of the open records request. Weaver confirmed the authenticity of the message by phone this afternoon.

“That’s an accurate e-mail,” Weaver said. “I sent that to Mr. Speck.”

Jean Maneke, an attorney with the Missouri Press Association, said intentional withholding of the document would constitute a violation of the law.

“If they don’t have an exception allowing them to not disclose it, it would violate the Sunshine Law,” she said.

After reviewing the e-mail, Maneke called The Chart and said that it was “probably exempt” under the Sunshine Law. Maneke added that the e-mail, as obtained and verified by The Chart was publishable under the law.

University spokesperson Rod Surber said the e-mail was withheld on the advice of University counsel.

Speck, through Surber, said he had no comment on the e-mail.