- Associated Press - Friday, October 31, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - A judge issued an arrest warrant for a housing agency’s executive director over claims he didn’t provide documents requested by an Arkansas newspaper.

District Judge Alice Lightle signed the warrant Thursday for Rodney Forte, the executive director of the Metropolitan Housing Alliance. An arrest affidavit by the Pulaski County prosecuting attorney’s office states Forte is facing a misdemeanor charge of failing to comply with the Freedom of Information Act.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Leigh Patterson said Forte wasn’t taken into custody but will have to appear later in court.

“There’s no reason to believe that Mr. Forte would not do anything but the responsible thing … which is to appear in court,” said Prosecuting Attorney Larry Jegley.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1rZZwpd ) reached Forte on his personal cellphone, but he said, “Hello? Hello? Hello?” before hanging up. He didn’t answer additional calls by the newspaper.

Reporter Chelsea Boozer started submitting public information requests in August after learning the organization this year hired a deputy executive director at a $92,000 salary.

The agency’s new hire came at a time when several other positions were still vacant, and all workers were under temporary, 10 percent pay cuts, which are still in force.

Marshall Nash, the agency’s administrative services director, sent an invoice on Tuesday to the newspaper for more than $16,000 to hire outside workers to fulfill the request. Little Rock city attorney and other Freedom of Information Act experts say that’s illegal.

Nash declined to comment and said he has to be authorized to do interviews.

“And I do not have that permission,” he said. “I apologize, but this is how it goes.”

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, https://www.arkansasonline.com

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