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Sunday, December 18, 2011

I received the 9/12/11 FOIA request documents

Well...  I received the 9/12/11 FOIA request documents...

Now I see why the district was complaining about the hidden costs of my FOIA request.  It's just like Robert Ficano in Wayne County wanting over half a million dollars to be supplied by taxpayer dollars to pay for the lawyers Ficano decided the county needed in order to figure out how to keep from supplying the documents requested under subpoenas and FOIA.  It's because CCS lawyered up to fight having to supply documents from my FOIA request...  That is why CCS charged me for 22 hours labor to supply the 585 pages.  It would not have taken more than four hours maximum to locate, copy, and organize the documents I asked for.  The excess hours must have been for lawyers.  

Had they just fulfilled the request instead of  "lawyering up" to keep from providing me what I asked for, it would not have cost the district anything (because I paid for the labor to gather and copy the documents). 

Below, in red, is the response I received from the district about certain items that the district decided they were not obligated by the rules of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to provide to me.  The items in black and bold l are my responses to Heidi McClain (cc'ing Dr. Rod Rock) about those claims of being outside the scope of FOIA.
Heidi,

Your response is below in red.  My responses are in black next to what I am commenting on.  Please advise.

Enclosed are the documents related to your requested items.

Several of the items contained in your FOIA fall outside of the scope of MCL 15.231 et seq. for the reason that such public records do not exist.  These items are as follows:

  • Complete documentation (any and all backup documents and all documents signed) for any decisions made or documents signed by the President of the CCS School Board that was not voted on in a public session by the School Board since 05/01/09: We have no such documentation.  Are you saying that the district does not have this information because the School Board is a separate "public body"?  If you are saying that there are no documents from decisions made by the President of the CCS School Board that were not decided by the full board, then I would have to say that is a violation of FOIA.  There have been multiple arguments during board meetings about decisions made by both Cheryl McGinnis and Steve Hyer while holding the President's position where the full board was not allowed to vote on the matter.  Please advise what you are saying here so I can decide how to take my next steps.  
  • Copy of expense for Barry Bomier’s flight to Washington DC for the February 2010 FRN Conference:  The district did not pay for this flight.  OK
  • Copy of complete expense claim with receipts for Mr. Hyer’s expenses at the February 2010 FRN Conference:  Mr. Hyer did not submit any expenses for this conference.  OK, obviously he attended with a scholarship from somewhere else.
  • Cumulative summary revenue and expenses reports for Board account codes:  We do not maintain such reports.  In past FOIA requests I have received these reports.  What is the difference now?
  • Net Tech Corporation – information on bid process, etc.:  These expenses were annual maintenance fees and thus were not bid.  I asked an accountant to look at all of the district Purchasing policies.  He said that he could not find anything in policy 6320 that distinguishes between an expense and a capital item when talking about the bid process.  Maintenance is an expense item.  It also doesn’t single maintenance out for special treatment, i.e., something that is exempt from the bid process.  He scanned a couple of other policies to see if maintenance was mentioned elsewhere but didn’t see anything.  He said that he believes that if the value of a maintenance contract is sufficiently large to trigger the bid process under State of Michigan rules, then maintenance would have to be bid also.
  • Cumulative summary revenue and expense reports for fiscal years 2009-10 and 2010-11 for the CHS Parking 610 account and Jungle Run 610 accounts:  We do not maintain such reports.  The name of the person responsible for both these internal Clarkston High School accounts is Gary Kaul, CHS Principal.  In past FOIA requests I have received cumulative summary revenue and expense reports for full fiscal years for other 610 accounts.  What is the difference now?
 Please be advised that MCL 15.233 states, in relevant part,

(4) This act does not require a public body to make a compilation, summary, or report of information…
(5) This act does not require a public body to create a new public record…
Accordingly, all public records that have been requested and exist have been provided.  The total cost for this request is as follows:

Number of pages: 585 x $0.10 per copy = $58.50
Labor:  $15.33 x 22 hours = $337.26
Total cost = $395.76 less credit of $81.50 = Total amount owed of $314.26

The materials will be available at the front desk at the Administration Building anytime after 12:00 noon on Friday, November 18.  Please present your payment to the receptionist.

Sincerely,

Heidi S. McClain
District FOIA Coordinator and
Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent
Unfortunately, the district shorted me far more than what they referenced on this email from Heidi McClain.

Much of what they shorted me was explanations for things I previously found that was obviously wrong.  I was giving them an opportunity to justify their decisions and since they did not respond, obviously they've decided to "take the Fifth" by staying silent.  Therefore, without an explanation by the district, I will take that forward to the authorities as wrongdoing.

Everything they shorted me is something that should not have occurred or been allowed.  I did receive proof of wrong doing with the documents I received also.

Some of these are FOIA violations for which I can take the district to court to compel them to provide.  I will respond back to the district on what I was shorted to give them an opportunity to make right before I go forward, but I am not waiting two months for answers and documents.

More to come on the FOIA document results...