When I first started FOIA Fridays, I blogged about a local citizen who was seeking information about red light cameras, aerial traffic enforcement and the convenience store licensing law. That was a month ago.
Yesterday, in a follow-up to that request, GraphicsGuy copied me on his email to Brian Schwartz, the city's public information officer. (personal contact information has been removed)
On 07 April, I delivered 3 FOIA requests to your office:
(1) Records pertaining to the maintenance, certification and testing of red light cameras;
(2) Costs incurred for aerial traffic enforcement;
(3) Documents supporting Councilman Ludeman's claim as to pricing of security camera for convenient stores.
To date, I have only received an answer to item # 3, as outline below.
On 23 April at 9:30a.m., I called and left a message on your voice mail asking to be contacted with an update of the status of the 2 remaining requests. As of 01 May, you have not returned my call or otherwise provided me with the information I am legally attempting to obtain.
Please contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (419) xxx-xxxx with information regarding my FOIA requests.
As you can see, he's not getting the public records he requested and now he's having trouble getting a response to his phone calls.
This isn't the first time there's been a delay in obtaining public records from the city administration. I hope GraphicsGuy will be filing his mandamus action to compel production of the data in the near future, since it appears that's what it will take to get this administration to comply with state law - and their own public records policy.
On a related note, last week I emailed the Lucas County Auditor's office to request a listing of expenditures from a specific fund. I had a response to my email within 2 hours offering to either fax the data or leave it at the front desk for pick up the next day.
When they followed up the next morning, as promised, to let me know the print outs were ready, they inquired as to whether or not my fax machine could handle legal-sized paper. As it doesn't do that very well, the employee offered to drop off the data to the radio station, as she was going to be very close to the building during her lunch hour. This, she said, would save me a trip into government center and having to pay for parking in the garage. While that was more than I expected and I didn't want to inconvenience her, I truly appreciated her approach in trying to make it easy for me to get the information I was seeking.
When Anita Lopez was elected Auditor, she embraced the idea that public information should be public and easy to obtain. It's obvious she wasn't just talking - but has put this into practice in her office.
Now if only some of her perspective would rub off on the Mayor!