Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Is Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi Withholding Emails?

I have an outstanding complaint with the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force against Board of Supervisors President London Breed for failing to acknowledge my request for certain of her emails, never mind providing any records nor a rationale for ignoring the request for public documents. Here's another elected official experiencing difficulty complying with our open government laws.

My public records request dated March 16 to San Francisco Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi, was for electronic copies of his emails from October 1, 2012, through December 31, 2014.

Mirkarimi sent this reply the following day:

"As process requires I am copying our legal liaison, Mark Nicco, who is working to facilitate your request."

Then Nicco sent this info on March 17:

"This request for all emails sent or received from the specified email accounts is not a 'simple, routine or otherwise readily answerable request'. Therefore, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department will require the additional 14 days permitted by state law [to search for responsive records].

On April 17, Nicco emailed me an update:

"I have been advised that the Sheriff’s Department Information and Technology Unit has received the raw data from the City’s Department of Technology. A review will now be conducted to determine what records are responsive to your request and what records are exempt from disclosure. This process will take additional time as there are a voluminous amount of records."

Excerpted from Nicco's April 29 note:

"I require the assistance of the IT unit to review the records for responsive documents. I do not have an estimated date yet for when this review can be completed."

May 1 rolled around and Nicco wrote:

"I am in the process of determining what records are responsive to your public records request."

Almost two months after initiating my immediate disclosure request to the sheriff, not a single email of his has been released to me, so I lodged a complaint with the Sunshine Ordinance Task Force whose administrator, Victor Young, today copied me on this letter to Mirkarimi:

"File No. 15074: Complaint filed by Michael Petrelis against Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi and the Sheriff’s Department for allegedly violating Administrative Code (Sunshine Ordinance), Sections 67.21 and 67.25, for failure to respond an Immediate Disclosure Request for public records in a timely and/or complete manner. 

"Please include the following information in your response if applicable:

"1. List all relevant records with descriptions that have been provided pursuant to the Complainant request.
"2. Date the relevant records were provided to the Complainant.
"3. Description of the method used, along with any relevant search terms used, to search for the relevant records.
"4. Statement/declaration that all relevant documents have been provided, does not exist, or has been excluded."

It's my hope that Mirkarimi and Nicco begin releasing responsive public records on a rolling basis to me this week, and then I can withdraw my SOTF complaint. Sure would be a welcome development if progressives and Democratic political clubs took an active interest in pressuring Supervisors and other elected to comply with all sunshine laws.

I'm tired of lodging complaints with the SOTF in order to force public officials to turn over documents created on the taxpayers' dime and time.

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