Friday, July 11, 2008

FOIA Friday - July 11, 2008

Chris Myers, who's been subbing for me on Eye On Toledo, has been keeping track of how various public offices respond to his requests as he does his research for the radio show.

His post on the grades he gave the offices details his experiences.

And Graphics Guy is still battling over records relating to the red light and speed cameras. I believe he's meeting with an attorney to discuss mandamus action, considering it's been about two months he's been waiting.

I'll keep you posted on his on-going struggle to access public records.


GraphicsGuy said...

I did meet with Attorneys Scott Ciolek & Kurt Wicklund on Friday concerning the City of Toledo's failure to satisfy an FOIA Request I filed on 6 June, 2008. This most recent request was to examine documents pertaining to the ‘administrative process’ referred to in the Toledo Municipal Code, §313.12(d)(4), ‘Civil penalties for automated red light system violations.

Since your ‘Eye On Toledo’ shows back in January or February on Toledo’s Photo Enforcement Program, I have been doing some research into the Photo Enforcement Program, and have filed 1other FOIA request concerning the Red Light/Speed Camera issue. That request – “for any and all documents pertaining to the maintenance, certification and testing of all installed red light cameras installed within the City of Toledo” was answered with documents showing the dates that the speed cameras had been certified. Interesting information, (considering most cameras go months between certification) but NOT what I had been seeking!

When I met with the City’s PIO, Elizabeth Phillips on 06 June to deliver the FOIA request concerning the ‘administrative process’, I asked her to again look into my first request, which she said she would.

On 03 July – almost a month after not hearing from the City concerning my requests, I sent an email to Ms. Phillips reminding her of my FOIA request and that it had not been answered. She immediately replied to tell me she would “address the issue.

On 08 July, I received an email from the Toledo Police Department. Attached was a file containing the ‘Agreement’ between the City of Toledo and James Jones, the Hearing Officer for Toledo’s Photo Enforcement Program. Again, NOT what I had requested! And, of course, nothing concerning my first request – the documents concerning the red light cameras.

In an email, I outlined the troubles I was having with my FOIA requests and sent it off to the law firm of Ciolek & Wicklund, who is also handling Midwest Retailers Association v City of Toledo and Shanahan v. City of Toledo cases. Within hours I received a phone call and an invitation to come in and discuss the issue.

In a nutshell, it was thought that filing a Mandamus action right now could be met with some concern from the court, and a better avenue to take would be to advise Ms. Phillips that the documents provided were not the ones that were being sought and that I should re-explain in more detail the documents I am seeking, so there is no question as to what is needed. Basically giving the city more rope in which to hang themselves if this request is not answered with the documents I am seeking.

I have composed that letter to be sent to Ms. Phillips, but will wait until Ciolek & Wicklund read it and give it their ‘stamp of approval’.

Naturally, I will keep you up-to-date on this matter.

Maggie Thurber said...

GraphicsGuy - getting information from the people who work for you shouldn't be this difficult!

Many are grateful that you're going down this path and ensuring the city follows the law...

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