The UA stonewall on public information continues, this time over exclusive contract for Coca-Cola at Fayetteville
The University of Arkansas, Fayetteville campus, announced early this week that it was going to switch from Pepsi to Coca-Cola as its beverage supplier and I’ve been trying ever since, using the Freedom of Information Act, to get details.
Rebecca Morrison, the designated gatekeeper for FOI requests at UA-Fayetteville, first responded that there was “not yet an agreed-upon draft to send.” I could see the announcement of the intent to award Coke the business, nothing more.
I pressed. I believe draft agreements are subject to disclosure under the law as they are records produced in the normal course of business. Not to the University of Arkansas. She said they’d search for responsive documents and respond by Friday. I nudged her again at 4:30 p.m. today, having heard nothing. My response came at 5:46 p.m. They had to acknowledge I could see the draft agreement, just no parts of it of any value.
They dragged out the old warhorse. That is, the UA may withhold any information that would give a competitive advantage to competitors. They used this excuse to keep secret for an extended period the particulars of what the Waltons had bought in University influence for their $300 million gift some years ago as if somebody else was waiting in the wings to offer more for the right to run departments, particular the Education Department, as they chose. And home cooking judges have protected them in flouting the FOI.,
Now they are citing this bogus exemption, intended to protect private companies, not the state, for a soft drink bidder that IS going get the contract and which WILL ultimately have to reveal the terms, including the negotiations. There’s no real room for Pepsi to enter the bidding at this point.
The UA arrogance doesn’t include respect for the law. But you knew that.
After four days of hassle, here’s the nothing burger FOI response from UA. Screenshots of parts of the non-response:
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