Written on: June 19th, 2017 in 10001 Declaration of Policy
Petitioner alleged that the Wilmington City Council’s Leadership Team was meeting privately in violation of FOIA. HELD: The Team, as currently constituted, is a “public body” which is subject to FOIA’s open meetings provisions. Therefore, private meetings are held to have violated FOIA. This office recommends that if the current form of the Team is continued, future meetings should comply with FOIA’s open meetings requirements and minutes of all prior meetings should be made available for inspection and copying.
Written on: June 16th, 2017 in 10001 Declaration of Policy
Petitioner alleged that the State Lottery Office improperly denied his request for information. HELD: There was no FOIA violation because the information requested would require the creation of a new record, which is not required by FOIA.
Written on: June 15th, 2017 in 10001 Declaration of Policy
Petitioner alleged that Sussex County Council and the Planning and Zoning Commission of Sussex County held focus groups without appropriate notice to the public or otherwise not compliant with FOIA’s open meetings provisions. HELD: There was no FOIA violation. The focus groups were not meetings of the public bodies against which the complaint was brought, as they did not include a quorum of either body. The private contractor operating the focus groups is a private entity and the focus groups themselves were formed by the private entity for single meetings to give input rather than an ongoing operation to make recommendations or reports or to conduct investigations. Thus the contractor and focus groups are not public bodies subject to FOIA.
Written on: April 25th, 2017 in 10001 Declaration of Policy
Petitioner alleged that members of the Buzz Ware Village Center Committee violated FOIA by not publicly making the decision to deny her request for use of space. HELD: The Buzz Ware Village Center Committee is a public body. The record of email contact among a quorum of the Committee’s board members regarding the request and their decision establishes a serial meeting which was held without notice to the public, thus violating FOIA. Because the decision was ultimately reversed, this office does not recommend remediation, but does recommend that the Committee become more familiar with FOIA and pursue FOIA training.
Written on: April 3rd, 2017 in 10001 Declaration of Policy
Petitioner alleged that the Red Clay Consolidated School Board must have held a nonpublic meeting based on the Board President’s statement to a parent that the majority of the Board agreed with a decision of the principal of A.I. DuPont High School to cancel the remainder of the boys basketball season. HELD: Sworn affidavits demonstrate that the principal provided this information to the Board President, but no evidence was found of a quorum or constructive quorum of the Board meeting to discuss the matter. While no FOIA violation was found, the Board is nonetheless cautioned to avoid any representation that it discussed or decided public business if it had not.
Written on: March 28th, 2017 in 10001 Declaration of Policy
Petitioner alleged that the Sussex County Board of Adjustment violated FOIA by not permitting him to comment at a meeting that included public comment in the agenda. The Board contended that agenda item was added only to permit a county employee to speak about his retirement. HELD: All members of the public were treated equally during the public comment session, so the Board did not violate FOIA when it did not permit Mr. Reiger’s comment. The Board did violate FOIA by including public comment on the agenda when they did not intend to allow it. No remediation is warranted, though the Board was encouraged to pursue FOIA training.
Written on: March 21st, 2017 in 10001 Declaration of Policy
Petitioner alleged that the Delaware State Police violated FOIA by improperly redacting purchase orders. HELD: Consistent with this office’s March 4, 2016 opinion regarding the same records, we request that DSP review the redactions and either provide Petitioner copies without the redactions of that information or provide the bases for such redactions. Petitioner also alleged that the scope of DSP’s search for requested records was insufficient. HELD: Consistent with this office’s March 4, 2016 opinion, no FOIA violation has been found.
Written on: March 10th, 2017 in 10001 Declaration of Policy
Petitioner alleged that the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) denied his request for emails to and from the Officer of the Governor and DNREC Secretary and Assistant Secretary referencing a possible violation of a DNREC Secretary order. HELD: Because the records sought relate to an investigation, the records are exempt from FOIA’s definition of “public record.” As such, DNREC did not violate FOIA by denying the Petitioner’s request.
Written on: March 8th, 2017 in 10001 Declaration of Policy
Petitioner alleged that the Town of Middletown violated FOIA by not answering questions regarding the source of certain funds paid out by the Town and by not providing certain records relating to a 2002 real estate transaction. HELD: FOIA does not require a public body to respond to questions. Moreover, the Town performed an adequate search of its own records and there is no evidence to suggest that an existing third party has possession of responsive records over which the Town has control. The Town therefore did not violate FOIA as alleged.
Written on: February 15th, 2017 in 10001 Declaration of Policy
Petitioner alleged that Delaware Technical & Community College violated FOIA by not basing the estimate of the cost to fulfill his request on the pay rate of the lowest-paid employees capable of performing the work. HELD: There was no FOIA violation. The College provided evidence through a sworn affidavit that the employees whose pay rates were used to develop the estimate are the lowest-paid ones capable of doing the necessary work within their information security protocols.