Local News, Porsgrunn | The final decision has now been made: – The State Director has agreed

Local News, Porsgrunn |  The final decision has now been made: – The State Director has agreed

There has been a barrage of complaints from journalists at Telemarksavisa, Varden and Kommunal Rapport to the country director over the past six months. All this because of a simple remark and a slanderous email that the municipality of Porsgrunn refused to make public.

“On the one hand, we agree with the complaints that public considerations have a role. “The employment dispute involving the council member in Porsgrunn is of public interest,” states the state director’s decision dated June 17, 2024.

“On the other hand, the considerations referred to by the municipality are important considerations that call for the necessity of applying exceptions. The exempted information is information about the labor dispute. The necessity of the exception at present applies even if an agreement has been reached between the consultant and the municipality.”

Secret cream

Since former councilwoman Rosemary Christiansen announced her illness at the beginning of January, the entire process has been shrouded in secrecy: the press has been banned from attending city council meetings on the matter, and politicians have been unable to say anything publicly about what really happened.

However, there are some facts that the media was able to highlight, the most important of which is the presence of conflict in the advisor's management team. The municipal managers' mistrust of Christiansen would be noted in an internal memo, one that journalists and Christiansen's lawyers were denied access to.

“It is quite clear that the specific reasons that led to the management group of the municipality losing confidence in the top manager are information that is of great public interest, and which the residents of the municipality also have a legitimate right to know. The municipality does not provide any evidence of the important considerations that make the content of the document hidden, “Freegard wrote to the municipality in January.

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This is the second round in which journalists complained that the state director was denied access. They justify this by saying that after there was an agreement between the municipality and Christiansen, it was no longer necessary to keep the case documents secret.

Decision of the State Director

Now the state director has made his final decision in the case: the complaint has not been upheld by any of the requested documents.

“The State Director agrees with the municipality’s assessment that further access to all or portions of the document should not be permitted at this time,” the state director’s letter dated March 7 said.

Freegard complained that he was given only partial access to the email from the Kansas attorney that was read to the City Council in January. He also applied for a termination notice which was said to have been sent to Christiansen's lawyers in April. None of these complaints were reported to the state director.

Investigation by the Civil Ombudsman

The Civil Ombudsman was also present at the scene and considered whether the State Director's conclusion was consistent with the law.

“After reviewing the document to which access was requested and the State Director’s justification for blocking access, no reason was found to further investigate the State Director’s conclusion,” wrote Åse Bækevold Kloster, the government’s acting head of department. Civil Ombudsman.

Dalila Awolowo

Dalila Awolowo

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