Mr. Robert E. Brown By Facsimile (652-5099) and First Class Mail
1024 Walnut Street
Wilmington, DE 19801
Dear Mr. Brown:
This will acknowledge your hand delivery on December 14, 1999, of an
undated Freedom of Information Complaint against the Delaware Department
of Transportation and the City of Wilmington with respect to a project
which you allege has violated 17 Del. C. § 1313 and 22 Del.
As a matter of law, this office cannot consider any complaint against
the Delaware Department of Transportation. Under 29 Del. C.
§ 10005 (f) no complaint against a department of state government which
the Attorney General is obliged to represent shall be the subject of a
complaint filed by any citizen under 29 Del. C. § 10005 (e).
With respect to the city of Wilmington, you have not alleged a specific
meeting to which you were denied access nor have you alleged that there
are any documents to which you have been refused access for purposes of
inspection and photocopying. You verbally stated to me that you were denied
access to meetings which did not occur under 17 Del. C. §
1313 because no notices were sent out as required for a road closure. However,
the provisions of 17 Del. C. § 1313 apply to Superior Court
proceedings for the vacation or abandonment of a public road and not to
a public meeting of a public body as the same is defined in the Freedom
of Information Act. Likewise, the provisions of Title 22 that you cite
relate to municipal zoning regulations and the promulgation and enforcement
of those regulations. 29 Del. C. § 10005(a) prohibits consideration
of any complaint not filed within six months of the date of the alleged
violation. You have not identified any meeting during the six months prior
to your complaint to which you have been denied access.
Under the Freedom of Information Act, the jurisdiction of the Attorney
General is limited to the determination of whether a citizen has been denied
access to public records or to meetings that were in fact conducted but
either not properly noticed or not conducted in an open manner as required
by Delaware law. If a municipal agency failed to conduct a meeting required
by law, a citizen affected by that action may pursue any appropriate legal
remedy provided for by the particular statute involved, in this case the
zoning or road closure statutes which you referenced in your complaint
letter. The Department of Justice has no jurisdiction to enforce Title
17 or Title 22 actions against a municipality on behalf of a private citizen.
Del. C. § 2504.
Since you have not articulated either in your letter or in our meeting
of December 14, 1999 that a violation of the Freedom of Information Act
has or is about to occur, your request for relief under the Freedom of
Information Act is hereby denied.
Very truly yours,
Michael J. Rich
cc: The Honorable M. Jane Brady
W. Michael Tupman, Deputy Attorney General
Frederick H.Schranck,, Deputy Attorney General
Philip G. Johnson
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