Written on: February 13th, 1996 in 10001 Declaration of Policy
The Complainant alleged that the Georgetown Town Council violated the Freedom of Information Act. Complainant alleged that the Council met daily in violation of FOIA and also submitted a memorandum for which there was no public record. The Council argued that there was no specificity as to their daily meetings and argued that the Memorandum was reviewed with separate council members but at no time was a quorum present warranting a public meeting that complied with the Act. Held: there was no evidence that the Council met daily in violation of the Act. However, the Memorandum was executed in violation of the Act. A public body may be subject to FOIA even if a quorum is not present, as was the case here where small groups met to discuss the memorandum. The fact that Council met in sub-groups to discuss, formulate and execute the November 27, 1995 memorandum suggests that the Council acted deliberately to circumvent the public notice, agenda and record keeping requirements of the Act.
Written on: January 2nd, 1996 in 10002(g) Meeting
The Complainant requested an investigation into three meetings the Newark City Council held with the University of Delaware. These meetings were not open to the public and no record was kept. Newark City Council argued that no quorum was present at any of the meetings and, therefore, the meetings were not those of a public body. Held: ad hoc committees are considered public bodies and the breakdown of council members into three groups is the formation of ad hoc committees. The formation of three ad hoc committees to meet with the same university staff to discuss essentially the same topics was a scheme to avoid compliance with FOIA.
Written on: January 2nd, 1996 in 10002(h) Public Body
The Requestor sought information from the Delaware Supreme Court and Municipal Court of Wilmington regarding a 1995 vacancy. The original request was to the Governor and was denied. However, the request did reference the Courts and was, therefore, addressed by the Attorney General’s office. Held: the Courts are not public bodies created by the General Assembly under the Freedom of Information Act and any deliberations are specifically excluded from FOIA. Additionally, the request is denied because the judiciary has no input in the filling of judicial vacancies which are filled by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.
Written on: January 2nd, 1996 in 10001 Declaration of Policy
The Complainant alleged that the Mayor of Dewey Beach improperly refused to respond to a question from a Maryland resident during a public town meeting. The Maryland resident also filed a Freedom of Information request. The town of Dewey Beach responded to the request but also noted that it need not fulfill FOIA requests made by non-Delawareans. Held: Delaware’s FOIA is applicable only to “citizens of the State,” meaning citizens of the State of Delaware.
Written on: November 2nd, 1995 in 10001 Declaration of Policy
The Complainant alleged that the District failed to note on the meeting agenda that the agenda was subject to change or modification and, therefore, any modifications made to the agenda at the meeting were in violation of the Freedom of Information Act. Held: FOIA expressly provides that posted agendas are subject to change and modification, the agendas do not need to contain such language, and any modification to the agenda was not a violation of FOIA. Next, the Complainant alleged that Board members impermissibly gathered in the Superintendent’s office prior to the meeting. Held: there is no evidence that the board members discussed public business, therefore there is no violation. Next, the Complainant alleged that the Board attempted to discuss pending litigation during executive session even though it was not on the agenda. Held: the pending litigation was not actually discussed so the point is moot. Next, the Complainant alleged that the Board did not give proper notice of its intent to conduct interviews for principal during executive session. In this case, the agenda stated “Personnel” matters were to be discussed during executive session. Held: “Personnel” does not give adequate notice of the interviewing of a candidate, which would fit better into the Section 10004(b)(1) reason for executive sessions, therefore there was not adequate notice of the Board’s intent to hold executive session to conduct interviews. Finally, the Complainant alleged that the meeting’s record did not encompass the executive session discussions. Held: those records were provided and the point is moot.
Written on: October 24th, 1995 in 10002(l) (1) Exemptions - Personnel
The Complainant alleged that the school district impermissibly withheld documents regarding the status of a teacher and what was being done to address problems with that teacher. The District replied that they had provided all the public documents they had, had conducted meetings regarding the teacher and had no more information to provide. Held: the District has fulfilled its obligations under the Freedom of Information Act and there is no violation.
Written on: September 27th, 1995 in 10001 Declaration of Policy
Civil Division – New Castle County September 27, 1995 Del. Op. Atty. Gen. 95-IB30 (Del.A.G.), 1995 WL 794497 (permitting the Director of the Division of Revenue, the state agency charged with administering and enforcing Delaware tax laws, to access Social Security numbers maintained by the Division of Motor Vehicles) Michael O. McCann Deputy Administrator Department […]
Written on: August 15th, 1995 in 10001 Declaration of Policy
Complainant alleged that New Castle County failed to respond to her request for records. The County indicated that it was preparing to respond to the request when the Complainant filed a pro se suit in Superior Court alleging, among other things, a violation of the Freedom of Information Act. Held: jurisdiction rests with Superior Court.
Written on: August 15th, 1995 in 10001 Declaration of Policy
The Complainant alleged that the Town Council of Georgetown violated the Freedom of Information Act when it did not include the eviction of the town Chamber of Commerce from the town hall on the June agenda but did vote on the matter as additional business. A special meeting was held two months later to vote on the eviction again, in compliance with FOIA, with the same vote. Held: although there was an initial violation, the subsequent meeting ratified the actions of the first meeting and made the matter moot.
Requestor sought an opinion on whether the Governor’s Council on Equal Employment Opportunity was permitted to meet privately with invited guests. The Council was established by Executive Order and its members were appointed by the Governor or the Human Relations Commission. It is not statutorily exempted from the Freedom of Information Act and is supported, at least in part, by public funds. Held: the Council on Equal Employment Opportunity is a Public Body as defined by FOIA and must abide by the open meeting requirements therefore, private meetings with invited guests are not permitted. However, the Council is permitted to go into Executive Session as permitted by statute.