QuachGate: Why won’t Westminster release records they already released?

Andy "Smiley" Quach

Andy "Smiley" Quach

What is it about city attorneys that causes them to be unable to respond to public records requests for information that has already been released?

I’m talking of course about the City Attorney for Westminster. Seems they have difficulty first in responding to requests for information in a timely manner. Which some of the time could be excused, but certainly not when the requests involve the DUI arrest of a member of the City Council. A delay in promptly releasing public records is reasonably considered an effort to hide something.

Then we have the issue of releasing information that they already released to another media outlet. Specifically, I requested the transcripts of the interaction between Westminster officers and Assemblyman Van Tran which had been released to the Orange County Register. Twelve days after I requested this information I was told; “The ‘transcripts’ referred to by the Orange County Register were limited to the conversation quoted in the article.”  Small little detail here, but I requested those transcripts, I did not ask if the Orange County Register quotations were accurate. Apparently, I am supposed to take their word for it.

Then we have my request for photos, including the booking photo for Councilman Quach. I made this request on August 7, 2009. On August 19, 2009 I was told by the City Attorney’s office that “my request for photos was denied.” Booking photos are public record and are released all the time. They are not evidence in pending prosecutions as the City Attorney claimed. On August 21st OCWeekly posted a copy of the booking photo for Councilman Quach at 12:00 noon, I received a copy from the District Attorney at 2:55 pm. The DA responded with the photo mere hours after receiving my request while Westminster took 12 days to tell me no. More on the other side of this Brick Wall.

Brick Wall

Tyler Diep UnpluggedThen we have their response to my request for the records of Tyler Diep’s interaction with the police over business checks at Citryst Restaurant on February 6, 2009 and I even provided the incident number that I got from the incident summary in the April 15th report from the Police Department to the Planning Commission.” Even though they had already released the audio of Tyler Diep’s interaction with the police to the Orange County Register they responded to my request by saying; “No documents responsive to this request have been located and it appears that no such documents have existed.”

So while I really do not want to think that the city is trying to cover stuff up, their actions thus far are not helping to change my mind. The police department claims that Councilman Quach received no special treatment, yet he was released after only two hours in holding and without posting bail. From the DUI attorneys I have spoken with, it his highly unusual to release a suspect in a DUI case involving an accident whose blood alcohol level was .26% after two hours and without posting any bond.

Here is an example of what I mean that happened a week ago.

‘Real Housewives’ husband arrested on suspicion of DUI
Matthew Lon Keough had 3 times legal blood alcohol limit, sheriff spokesman said

Deputies arrested Matthew Lon Keough, 54, at his Coto de Caza home around 1:30 p.m., according to Jim Amormino, OCSD spokesman.

Amormino said deputies saw Keough drive through a stop sign and when the officers flashed their lights at him he failed to stop. Officers then followed Keough as he slowly drove home, where they arrested him on suspicion of evading arrest, in addition to drunken driving suspicions.

A blood test found Keough’s blood alcohol level about 0.29, nearly four times the legal limit of .08 percent, the Sheriff’s Department said.

“At nearly four times the limit, it’s extremely dangerous to be on the road,” Amormino said. “A little higher and it’s not safe to be walking, let alone driving.”

Keough was released from Central Men’s Jail in Santa Ana at 1:13 a.m. on Sunday after posting bail of $10,000, according to the OCSD arrest logs.

It is my understanding that the arresting agency does have discretion in determining whether to require the posting of bail and the time of release. Keough was held for 12 hours and had to post $10,000 bail. He did not have an accident and did not knock out power to 300 residents. I find it hard to swallow the pill Westminster PD is trying to feed us that “Councilman Quach did not receive any ‘special’ treatment.”

I still have plenty of outstanding questions and records requests with the city and the District Attorney. I will let you know how things progress as this story unfolds.

  1 comment for “QuachGate: Why won’t Westminster release records they already released?

  1. jose s.
    August 24, 2009 at 8:13 am

    hey prevatt comparing matt keough’s dui to quach’s is a bit of a stretch keep in mind keough has a long history of this type of behavior. i agree quach got special treatment but in no way should those two be compared. besides, if i had a horrid wife and three rotten kids like keough does i would have to drink myself stupid too.i hate to say this but i actually feel bad for the guy.

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