- Dancing Kim Jong-un video sparks North Korea fury
- Delta cancels all Israel flights over missile fear; US Airways also stops flight to Tel Aviv
- Philadelphia mosque leaders try to sever hand of accused thief
- NAACP: Detroit water shutoffs are racially motivated
- Obama family set to buy $4.25M desert home in California: report
- Big milestone for Britain’s little Prince George who turns 1
- Murphy: Israel must be wary of Hamas using civilian deaths for recruitment
- Royce: Putin recruiting ‘every skinhead and malcontent around Russia’
- Nancy Pelosi is adamant: Congress worked together when Bush was president
- ‘Slender Man’ stabbing victim receives Purple Heart from anonymous veteran
Gray campaign falls short on FOIA stance
Question of the Day
For more than three months Mr. Gray’s office and the council’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) officer failed to fulfill a written request submitted by The Washington Times seeking just that information.
Meanwhile, Mr. Gray recently denied a request by D.C. Attorney General Peter J. Nickles to expand the required time for the government to respond to FOIA requests. D.C. law gives the government 15 business days to respond to FOIA requests, with a 10-day extension in “unusual circumstances.”
The Gray campaign has criticized Mr. Nickles for presiding over “a record number of improperly denied FOIA requests,” and in August the police officers’ union sued the city for its alleged failure to respond in a timely manner to a FOIA request about the nonprofit group Peaceoholics.
“The activities of an official working on the taxpayers dime ought to be available in a timely manner,” said D.C. lawyer Thomas M. Susman, a director of government affairs with the American Bar Association and president of the D.C. Open Government Coalition. “With two weeks before an election, further delay could make the information irrelevant to the voting public.”
The Times filed a formal FOIA request by e-mail with Mr. Gray’s office on May 18, requesting access to “Mr. Gray’s appointments calendar from January 1, 2008, to the present, including all meetings with elected and government officials, lobbyists, business people and community groups or representatives; all community meetings, public appearances, conferences, travel and speaking engagements; and all ceremonies and ribbon-cuttings related to his role as chairman of the D.C. Council.”
The e-mail was addressed to Mr. Gray’s chief of staff, Dawn Slonneger, and copied to his spokeswoman, Doxie McCoy, among other Gray staff members, and to Brian K. Flowers, general legal counsel for the D.C. Council.
On June 24 — more than 15 business days from the date of the request — Mr. Gray, who has campaigned on a platform of openness and transparency in government, was quoted in news reports as saying the current response time of 15 business days is “sufficient.” The remark was made in response to a letter sent to the council chairman by Mr. Nickles seeking legislation to extend the amount of time the city has to respond to FOIA requests in “unusual circumstances,” and as other open-government proposals were pending before the council.
In July, Mr. Collins, whose office staff was assembled by and reports to Mr. Gray, told The Times he never received its request — despite written confirmation from the council chairman’s office to the contrary. On Aug. 6, Mr. Collins then wrote in an e-mail to The Times that Mr. Gray’s calendar would be available “no later than August 13.”
On Monday, The Times once again requested that Mr. Gray’s office and the council secretary’s office comply with the city’s public information law. His office replied that it had turned the information over to Mr. Collins, who said the information “will be available for pickup on Wednesday.”
Asked about the delay, and about their positions on the legislative debate over the timeliness of FOIA processing, Mr. Gray’s office and the council secretary’s office declined to comment.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
TWT Video Picks
U.S. appetite for drugs begets violence migrants are fleeing
- IRS seeks help destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives
- Rep. Jared Polis' anti-fracking crusade riles Colorado
- Obamacare dealt massive setback by federal appeals court
- Jewish woman booted from JetBlue flight over fight with Palestinian
- LYONS: Small-arms treaty, big Second Amendment threat
- MERRY: Handicaps in Hillary's way
- PRUDEN: A deadly enemy within exacerbating immigration crisis
- YOUNG: A sinking presidency, deeper after November?
- Hamas terrorists wear Israeli army uniforms to ambush soldiers in Gaza
- Hillary Clinton dogged for refusing reporters' questions on book tour
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq