Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How City Councilors keep public information away from citizens.

How City Councilors keep public information away from citizens.

Proper tracking of all the Councilors at Boston City Council isn't made easy for interested citizenry.

What's problematical about Boston City Council are the public records of this city council are kept at too long an arms reach for any interested citizen to read. For example Boston City Council applies the maximun allowable fees under Massachusetts public records laws And the maximum allowable fees are assessed at each step of retrieval of the public record enquiry violating the spirit of open government FOI freedom of information public records principles. It's a loophole in law that allows custodians of public records to keep a public record out of reach for citizens' ordinary household budgets.

see also

Charges are assessed for retrieval of the public record at the prorated hourly wage of the lowest paid employee who is capable of performing the task More charges are added for making paper copies even for electronic public records. Then more charges are added for redacting

Compare the 17F Order of Boston City Council.
"SECTION 17F. Requests for Specific Information. The city council at any time may request from the mayor specific information on any municipal matter within its jurisdiction, and may request his presence to answer written questions relating thereto at a meeting to be held not earlier than one week from the date of the receipt of said questions, in which case the mayor shall personally, or through a head of a department or a member of a board, attend such meeting and publicly answer all such questions. The person so attending shall not be obliged to answer questions relating to any other matter. The mayor at any time may attend and address the city council in person or through the head of a department, or a member of a board, upon such subject as he may desire. [Acts of 1951, c. 376, s. 1.17F]"
17F of Chapter 452 of the Acts of 1948

What's needed are reviews and amendments of all applicable Massachusetts Sunshine open public meeting laws and FOI freedom of information public records laws. A public records commission is needed. Attorneys in the offices of the Secretary of the Commonwealth and in the offices of the Attorney General that review/enforce public records and open meetings appeals need to be given a title of Administrative Judge.

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