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Pudgil Watch, Update 7

We’ve given the city of San Diego and Mayor Jerry Sanders until 4 p.m. Wednesday to produce the 692 e-mails that have been kept secret from us and the public.

After that, we’ve notified the city that we intend to file a lawsuit to compel the records’ disclosure. Cory Briggs, a local attorney, is serving as our counsel.

I’ve worked throughout the spring with Darren Pudgil, the mayor’s spokesman, to narrow the scope of my request, originally filed March 27. I wanted to know what went into the misrepresentations that city officials made about the mayor’s water-cuts strategy.

In turn, Pudgil delayed the release of records and refused to tell us when they’d be ready, even though he’s required to do that by law. He instead made vague promises and only produced them after we told him we’d start writing about the city’s refusal to disclose them.

When we got the records earlier this month, the city withheld 48 percent of the emails I requested, citing exemptions created by a 1991 legal case.

But the foundation of that case is shaky. A legal opinion written by former City Attorney Mike Aguirre concluded that passage of a 2004 statewide open-government ballot proposition left the 1991 case “of dubious authority.”

I asked City Attorney Jan Goldsmith yesterday whether he stood by Aguirre’s legal opinion. He said he did. He told me: “[I]ts legal analysis is sound. There has been no change in interpretation.”

So at the same time Goldsmith stood behind the opinion, which concluded the 1991 legal case is of “dubious authority,” his attorneys are citing it to me as the main reason for keeping those 692 e-mails from being disclosed.

I’ve called or text-messaged Pudgil every day since Pudgil Watch officially started June 22. He hasn’t returned any calls or messages. Sanders has stood by the decision to keep the records secret.

ROB DAVIS
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