Thursday, December 4, 2014

OCWRC Denies FOIA Request (No Such Documents); Appeal

[The Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner's FOIA Coordinator denied my request for certain records having to do with construction site silt runoff (nearly identical to the one posted here November 21, 2014).  The following is my appeal of that denial.  

Bear in mind, however, that the main point is that there can be no rational justification for the double standard of erosion control enforcement being practiced in Oakland County municipalities.]

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WR Commissioner Nash:

By letter via U.S. Postal Service dated December 2, 2014, your FOIA Coordinator...denied my FOIA request for certain records* with the statement that "The documents understood to be requested either do not exist or are not maintained by the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner's office.  Therefore, your request for public denied."

Sorry to put so fine a point on it, but I requested records, not merely documents.  This is my appeal.

The FOIA statute begins, "AN ACT to provide for public access to certain public records of public bodies; to permit certain fees; to prescribe the powers and duties of certain public officers and public bodies; to provide remedies and penalties; and to repeal certain acts and parts of acts."  The statute further provides: 

15.232 Definitions.

(e) “Public record” means a writing prepared, owned, used, in the possession of, or retained by a public body in the performance of an official function, from the time it is created. Public record does not include computer software...

(h) “Writing” means handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostating, photographing, photocopying, and every other means of recording, and includes letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols, or combinations thereof, and papers, maps, magnetic or paper tapes, photographic films or prints, microfilm, microfiche, magnetic or punched cards, discs, drums, or other means of recording or retaining meaningful content.

The Michigan Attorney General wrote,
(p.5) "It does not matter what form the record is in." 

For example (p.44):

Oakland County Treasurer v Title Office, Inc, 245 Mich App 196; 627 NW2d 317 (2001).

"Electronic records are writings as defined by the FOIA. Public bodies are required to provide public records in the format requested. If there is no explicit statutory language that provides fees for electronic records, the records must be provided using the FOIA fee requirements." 

I believe video and audio recordings are accessible as well.

Please grant my appeal, reverse the determination of your FOIA Coordinator and furnish me with copies of the requested records.

-- Jim Lang
(address and phone)

* Summarized as "...a copy of all records created or obtained by OCWRC within the timeframe of January 1, 2014 to present that contain a rationale for the difference between the strict water quality and erosion control enforcement in MEAs and the lax enforcement by OCWRC in its role as CEA, as that rationale relates to Michigan waters and the public trust." (See your file for the complete request.)

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