Are Some on City Staff Inflating Cost in an Effort to Stymie Freedom of Information?

newtonNewton White via …
Attachments 5:43 PM …
to City Council …
Recently, their has been new talk that Freedom of Information public record requests are hindering the city staff from completing their day to day work. Rumor has been heard that some on council or the staff and manager would like to discourage people that they feel abuse their Right to examine public documents.
After reviewing the Sunshine Manual published by the Attorney General (attached) I would point you to the below page references to confirm what I say.
Public record requests are not a hindrance to the daily tasks of the job, they are an essential requirement of the job.
The law is clear that public record requests are to be handled without delay.
While provision is made that all documents are not to be provided free of cost, what can be charged is clearly defined in several places and the clear intent is that, the charges are not to generate revenue. In other words be no more than the cost of retrieval or copying.
The manual or law goes on to explain that any costs are to be given in advance and they are to be accurate. In my opinion not a high cost intended to discourage the requester.
The people have the right to know what the government they elected is doing, and sadly not enough people have or take the time to participate. Hiding information behind a large cost should not be allowed. Given that in the digital age many of the document retrieval problems I have heard from staff members are the fault of poor record keeping of the past, and should not be the cost of someone who needs to know today.
The technology is common now to have all of the documents searchable and organized. Go to the newspapers website and try a news search and you will see what I mean, then try the search documents on the city website. Just for fun use the one of the following words green, ford, burnette, bastian, or stiltner. You should get at last one hit for every meeting you have been present at or spoke at or received and award at.
I ask that council give clear direction to the manager to make the city as accessible and searchable as it should be. And that if additional resources are required to ask for them, and for council to approve them.
Thank You,
Newton White
page 145 b and 5
page 146 section 8
page 150 on production delays b.
page 162 fees

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3 thoughts on “Are Some on City Staff Inflating Cost in an Effort to Stymie Freedom of Information?

  • January 7, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    I just spoke with Corey Kingsbury in IT regarding the remarks about our search engine at last night’s Council meeting. I know it is something Corey has been working to fix for a while now. I’m pleased to inform you that the website has been updated with a Google search engine for more accurate search results.
    In addition, the Clerk’s Office is working on scanning and indexing the City’s records so that more of the records will be searchable by the public. It is a slow process but know that we are working on it.
    Thank you,

    • January 7, 2015 at 5:19 pm

      Two thumbs up for the City Clerk’s response and the action finally taken.
      Hope it works out.


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