OSWPCA: Sunshine / WPCA's Freedom-of-Information policy is ccontrary to the public interest - 08Oct12

Text facsimile

   Date: 08Oct2012
     To: Elsa Payne, Old Saybrook WPCA Chairman, <tpayne@snet.net>
   From: Joel Anderson, 13 George Dr., Old Saybrook CT 06475-2636
            860-388-9858, oswpca.com / govtwork.org
Subject: Old Saybrook WPCA's obstructionist FOIA fulfillment policy
From the minutes of the Old Saybrook WPCA's Regular Meeting, September 10, 2012:
"Chairman Payne noted that the First Selectman's Office has sent a letter to Mr. Armstrong regarding his FOIA request indicating that the documents will be ready by Friday, September 14, 2012. Ms. Marshall and Ms. Lewis are preparing those documents related to their respective positions requested by the FOIA."

Apparently, the WPCA responds to FOIA requests with paper documents.

Any document made available to a petitioner in response to a Freedom of Information (FOIA) request is a public document.

Petitioners who don't know the FOIA, probably don't know that they're entitled to the documents in the form you have them, i. e., electronically.

You're using your superior knowledge (of FOIA) to deny to the general public information made available exclusively to members of the public who asked for it. This is obstructionist and not in the public interest.

The WPCA should furnish the documents electronically by posting them to a FOIA folder on the WPCA's website and then mailing, or emailing, the URL to the FOIA petitioner so they can find them. Hardship cases can be furnished paper documents, but the public interest requires simultaneously available online documents.

Any petitioner lacking a computer and an internet connection can be sent to Acton Library where, on a public terminal, they can view and print documents of interest or forward them to their lawyer. They can also print extra copies as needed from the electronic record.

It is a trivial matter to copy electronic documents.

A responsible public agency, an agency seeking to inform the public rather than keep secrets, would publish all past, current, and future FOIA requests to a folder on its website. Will you do it?