Investigate Anaheim

The online news site Voice of OC has an important scoop: an unethical -- and possibly illegal -- attempt to delete public records in the Orange County city.

The context: The Voice of OC had sought certain public records in Anaheim in pursuit of stories. But it also learned of an email from a planning department staffer that attempted to short-circuit this and other public records requests by deleting old records.

Such deletion would seem to violate procedures and laws requiring preservation of public records, and a public process for disposing of old records.

This sort of ignorance of public records laws is common in cities, but it's rare to see such violations clearly exposed. Which is why it's so important that a vigorous investigation be launched -- to make it plain that violations of the public's right to know won't be tolerated. In this case, Voice of OC's reporting suggests that deletion of records might have been sought to cover up other misbehavior by local officials. So any investigation should examine criminal violations.

If local prosecutors won't get involved, the state attorney general should.

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