Fenty’s Office: What FOIAs? (Updated)
Critics have long-charged Still Mayor Adrian Fenty's administration of not playing fair when it comes to Freedom of Information Act requests. LL thinks the critics make good points, but LL believes Fenty isn't much different from ALL politicians in giving little regard to open government laws. (Every couple of months, LL gets an e-mail from the state of Alaska saying they are extending their time to respond to a records request LL made in 2008 when he was working in Juneau, covering then-Gov. Sarah Palin.)
But the response LL got today from Fenty's office is pretty epic!
Here's how it began: LL thought it might be fun to keep score on which media outlets have been most aggressive in covering Fenty. One way to measure that is to look at how many Freedom of Information Act requests different news organizations have filed with the mayor's office. (It's also a cheap way to keep tabs on what the competition is working on.)
LL filed on Oct. 1 this FOIA with Sarah Latterner, the mayor's point person on FOIA requests:
Please consider this a FOIA request for a list of all FOIA requests made to the Executive Office of the Mayor beginning Jan 2, 2007 to the present.
Please include, in an excel format if possible, the following information for each FOIA request:
-Date FOIA request was made
-Name of person submitting the FOIA request
-Name of organization submitting the FOIA request
-Description of the FOIA request
-Date the FOIA request was answered.
And here's the response LL got from Latterner today: "Your request returned no findings within the Executive Office of the Mayor."
Say what? LL has looked over his request about a dozen times to make sure there's not some stupid mistake he made that would explain the Latterner's response. LL's not seeing it, and neither are his co-workers.
LL knows for a fact that the Executive Office of the Mayor has received FOIA requests because he's submitted a handful of them himself. Here's one LL even posted, with Latterner saying, you guessed it, “Your request returned no findings within the Executive Office of the Mayor.” (Really? What about the FOIA LL submitted on the FOIAs? That counts, right?)
What's even more weird is that in her e-mail to LL, Latterner helpfully suggests that LL check out this city website that has yearly reports on FOIA issues. Those reports indicate that the Executive Office of the Mayor received four FOIA requests in fiscal 2009, 52 in fiscal 2008 and 31 in fiscal 2007.
LL has made calls and sent an e-mail to Latterner to get an explanation and will update as necessary. LL's hoping there's a simple explanation to this, other than the fact that the Fenty folks just don't give a crap about following the law.
Update: This just keeps getting better. Here is Latterner's response:
"Mayor Fenty has received FOIA requests during his term, sorry, that is not what my response was indicating. Rather, the Executive Office of the Mayor does not maintain a list of such FOIA requests in the form and format that you are seeking.
I hope this is helpful."
No, Sarah, it's not helpful. LL has now submitted a new request for "copies" of every request made to the EOM under Fenty. LL will update when he gets a response saying it'll cost $13,057 to answer that request.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery