Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Current & Ex Supes' Prez Breed, Chiu Withholding Emails?

It's Sunshine Week right now, a time to celebrate and utilize FOIA and open government laws.

Wouldn't it be a huge step forward to open San Francisco's City Hall if a news outlet or online site with stringers, or one of the many nonprofits with paid community organizers, regularly filed requests for the calendars, emails and other assorted public records being created daily by the Board of Supervisors, the Mayor, all department heads and once responsive records were obtained, sharing them on the web?

In a word, yes. May I live so long to see the day.

On March 16, I filed requests with Board President London Breed for some of her emails and the Clerk of the Board Angela Calvillo, for all of ex president David Chiu's emails in 2014. The records I seek, created with taxpayer funds, are clearly identified and my requests are in league with the FOIAs filed by the New York Times and Associated Press for all emails of Hillary Clinton during her State Department tenure.

Delaying searches by San Francisco electeds and appointed City administrators needs sunshining. Is it going too far to say if records aren't forthcoming that they're being withheld? Talk amongst yourselves. Here's what Breed sent today:

"California Government Code Section 6253(b) and the City Attorney Office’s Good Government Guide makes clear that a public records request must specify an identifiable record or category of records sought, and must be sufficiently clear and defined that it reasonably identifies a specific subject matter.  The law does not generally allow a requester to look indiscriminately through a department’s files. 

"In reference to your request for 'any and all emails sent or received by the ‘London.Breed@sfgov.org’ addy from Jan. 1, 2015, through March 13, 2015, you will need to identify the specific subject matter (i.e. file, legislative item, issue) of the information you seek." 

This is what Clerk Calvillo sent this morning:

"In response to your request for 'any and all emails sent or received by "David.Chiu@sfgov.org", the addy used by the former president of the Board of Supervisors, from Jan. 1, 2014, through December 31, 2014,' we request that you please identify the specific subject matter (i.e. file, legislative item, issue) of the information you seek."

This was my response to Breed and Calvillo:

"Last October, City Attorney Dennis Herrera, in response to my public records request for any and all emails sent or received over a certain period of time for his deputy Ms. Tara Collins, after much wrangling via email and a complaint to the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force, posted thousands of responsive public records on his site for the public to read.

This wonderful precedent, I believe, should be your guide to complying with request for the identified emails. Let me know if you will reconsider your denial of releasing the responsive records."

Depending on the responses tomorrow from Breed and Calvillo, my next step may be to lodge a complaint with the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force. Stay tuned for updates.

Have you filed a public records request this week? Do democracy a favor and file a FOIA!

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