In the most recent City Council Meeting (October 10, 2017), the Mayor referred to a letter from the Attorney General’s Office. He said the letter found the City had complied with a recent FOIA request we submitted and he used it as an opportunity to congratulate the City FOIA Officer for her performance. This letter was a response to a request for review we had filed, related to continued failure to provide information we had requested. In particular, Hotel Motel Board meeting minutes from April 2012, where the decision to hire the current Tourism Director was made. We had previously requested these documents as part of a broader request, and the Attorney General instructed the City to provide them (our February 27, 2017 request). When the City continued to withhold these documents, we filed another request that was more specific requesting the documents for these meeting dates. The City denied our request, and we filed a request for review with the Attorney General.
What the Attorney General actually did say in its response to our request, was that, after speaking with the City’s FOIA Officer, they were informed that “the Hotel Motel Board did not prepare minutes or verbatim recordings of these meetings, and therefore, it does not possess the records you seek.” So, because the City contends that the Board did not prepare the legally required documents and recordings of these meetings, they do not exist, and the FOIA statute does not require them to provide information that they say does not exist. Out of all the meetings in 2012, these meetings were unique. The City says these meetings had no minutes recorded, while all the others did. We’re forced to accept that the FOIA Officer can refuse to provide information by saying that it was not kept.
And, because the meetings were five years ago, it is too late to find that the City violated the Open Meetings Act by not recording the meetings, or preparing minutes as required by law. The Attorney General did not require the City to comply with our request, “because you submitted your Request for Review more that two years after the date of the alleged violations, section 3.5(a) of OMA precludes this office from reviewing your OMA allegations.” Rather than stating that the City behaved properly as the Mayor suggested, it is more a matter that the law states it is too late to do anything about it. (The full response is provided below).
We are happy to provide live streaming, and archiving of all meetings, minutes and documents on openNauvoo. This will help ensure that this is not an issue in the future.