5 May 2017
The City of Nauvoo provided a response to several recent requests, and continued with the contention that the requests were “voluminous” and now that they “unduly burden” the City. Our response is below.
We understand that the City has a limited staff, and that providing the documents we have requested takes time. However, the statements made in the City’s response to the hours and hours it takes to review, copy, REDACT and then recopy so many of these pages is confusing. Most of what we have requested contains no personal information, they are simply copies of documents (in some cases City ordinances that should already be readily available), invoices (no personal information there), and records of receipts for funds the city has collected on citizen’s behalf.
If these records are properly organized and maintained, it will take time to copy, but locating and redacting should be very minimal efforts.
As the City has stated in previous responses, time is often spent in “looking in all the usual places” for records. It does not seem reasonable to claim the requests are burdensome if the reason for delay is the difficulty in locating documents that should be readily available.
Finally, every document requested from the City has been placed on openNAUVOO, so every other citizen now has access to the information without having to “burden” the City additionally, or wait on the response.
The fact that the City has assigned this responsibility (FOIA Compliance Officer) to the person who is the City Clerk (this shouldn’t impact that work since City Clerk work is not to be done on City time, and is compensated separately anyway) and City Collector is not something we can apologize for. Considering the time spent with the City Attorney and the letters that have been written by the City Attorney, contesting the need to provide documents, and still not complying with the Attorney General’s request, we fear that may be the real cost of FOIA compliance for the City of Nauvoo.
There are cities that simply provide a guideline and list for all documents that require review before release (personal information on payroll, etc.) and instruct that anything not on that list be provided immediately. Unfortunately, as stated by the Mayor on more than one occasion, the City of Nauvoo asks “what do we have to release?” The contrast is clear. It will take a lot more time, and expense, reviewing with the City’s Attorney what “has” to be released, instead of asking what “must” be restricted?
As stated in our reply, we understand that this does have an impact on City resources (particularly the FOIA Compliance Officer), and have suggested the City prepare a timeline for all documents they are having difficulty providing. If this timeline is reasonable, we will agree. But, we will expect that all documents requested be provided. None of this impacts our initial request of 27 February 2017, which has now gone past 66 days, without compliance (State law requires a 5 day response). The Attorney General’s Office has already made several demands for the material requested, which the City has failed to provide, and the Attorney General’s Office will determine the timeline for that process as it continues.
Response we provided to the City on 4 May 2017: