17-IB35 07/31/2017 FOIA Opinion Letter to Mr. Randall Chase re: FOIA Complaint Concerning the Office of the Governor
Petitioner alleged that the Office of the Governor (OGov) effectively denied his request for the governor’s calendar by providing printouts of the public schedule available on the OGov website. OGov subsequently provided a more detailed calendar with redactions. HELD: Because the more detailed calendar was provided, the issue was determined to be moot.Read More
17-IB34 07/28/2017 FOIA Opinion Letter to Ms. Dorsey Fiske re: FOIA Complaint Concerning the Trustees of the New Castle Commons
Petitioner requested that this office determine whether the Trustees of the New Castle Common is a public body subject to FOIA’s requirements. The Trustees contended that it is not a public body and thus not required to follow FOIA’s requirements. HELD: Based on the application of the two-part test laid out in FOIA- 1) that the Trustees was created by, and later had its authority modified by, the General Assembly and 2) that the Trustees administer funds for public use- the Trustees are determined to be a public body subject to FOIA.Read More
17-IB33 07/26/2017 FOIA Opinion Letter to Mr. Kenneth Kristl re: FOIA Complaint Concerning the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control
Petitioner alleged that the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (“DNREC”) violated FOIA by taking so long to provide a response to their client’s request after payment was received. HELD: DNREC did not provide sufficient evidence of having complied with FOIA’s requirements of response to a request that permits certain explanations of why and how much more time is needed to fulfill that request. However, no remediation is recommended because the Petitioner’s client has since received a response.Read More
17-IB32 07/25/2017 FOIA Opinion Letter to Mr. Courtney French re: FOIA Complaint Concerning the City of Wilmington
Petitioner alleged that the City of Wilmington violated FOIA by denying access to the following parking ticket data: license number, state, vehicle make, vehicle color, officer name, officer badge number, and the date the ticket was paid. HELD: The City did not violate FOIA by denying vehicle license numbers, which are protected by the common law right of privacy, or officer names, which would require inputting new information into the database and thus creating a new record which FOIA does not require. However, the City did violate FOIA by failing to provide the data regarding the state, vehicle make, vehicle color, officer badge number, and date ticket was paid, which would only require exporting existing data. Further, the City may be able to recoup costs incurred for the export to be completed. This office recommends as remediation that recommend that the City provide this information, or an itemized written cost estimate pursuant to 29 Del. C. §§ 10003(m)(2) and (5), within fifteen (15) business days of this determination.Read More
17-IB31 07/24/2017 FOIA Opinion Letter to Ms. Christine Wembly re: FOIA Complaint Concerning Delaware Technical Community College
On June 8, 2017, Petitioner alleged that Delaware Technical Community College violated FOIA with respect to an October 24, 2016 meeting. This office declined to consider the allegation because it is our practice to not consider such allegations regarding events more than 6 months prior in keeping with the statute of limitations followed by the Courts.
On June 13, Petitioner alleged that the Board of Trustees violated FOIA by using the agenda heading “New Business” in its June 19, 2017 meeting agenda and that the Board of Trustees and the Personnel Committee violated FOIA by using the language “Personnel and Legal” in their June 19, 2017 meeting agendas as the bases for their respective executive session discussions. HELD: The Board’s use of “New Business” rather than a more specific explanation in the agenda for the recognition of a long-serving employee did not violate FOIA because employee recognition is not a “major issue” as contemplated by FOIA. The Board’s and Personnel Committee’s use of “Personnel and Legal” also did not violate FOIA because the Delaware Chancery Court has upheld the use of that language as long as it is not used to encompass a number of the reasons an executive session may be held. There is no evidence in the record that the language was so used.
On June 17, Petitioner alleged that the Finance Committee violated FOIA by by using the agenda heading “Other Business” in its June 19, 2017 meeting agenda. HELD: We conclude that the use of “Other Business” as a heading does not per se violate FOIA for similar reasons used to determine that “New Business” does not.
17-IB30 07/24/2017 FOIA Opinion Letter to Mr. Joseph Stinson re: FOIA Complaint Concerning the Wilmington Police Department
Petitioner alleged that the Wilmington Police Department (“WPD”) had not responded to his FOIA request within 15 business days. WPD acknowledged not meeting the deadline. HELD: WPD violated FOIA, but no remediation was necessary as WPD has since responded to the request.Read More
17-IB29 07/20/2017 FOIA Opinion Letter to Ms. Patricia McCune re: FOIA Complaint Concerning the Delaware Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation
Petitioner alleged that the Delaware Agricultural Land Preservation Foundation (“DALPF”) violated FOIA by: 1) providing an inadequate description of the Agreement on its agenda, 2) failing to indicate an intent to vote on the Agreement, and 3) failing to address public comments in its agenda. HELD: There was no FOIA violation. The agenda and its attachment were sufficiently detailed to inform the public that the agreement of concern to the Petitioner would be discussed and possibly voted on, despite a typographical error in the attachment. Public comment is not required by FOIA, but the agenda did provide for public comment in which the Petitioner participated.Read More
17-IB28 07/19/2017 FOIA Opinion Letter to Mr. Dan Kramer re: FOIA Complaint Concerning Sussex County Council
Petitioner alleged that Sussex County Council’s October 4, 2016 meeting agenda did not provide adequate notice to the public that it would vote on a succession plan for leadership at the Sussex County Planning and Zoning Office. HELD: County Council violated FOIA. The agenda did not reference to an anticipated vacancy in the top position at the Planning and Zoning Office nor any plan to fill that vacancy at the meeting. As remediation, this Office recommends that County Council publicly explain their reasons for choosing the successor for that position.Read More
17-IB27 07/18/2017 FOIA Opinion Letter to Mr. Frank Cannon re: FOIA Complaint Concerning the City of Seaford
Petitioner asked that this Office determine whether there was a legal basis for the Council of the City of Seaford to have held an emergency meeting in executive session. HELD: Having reviewed records submitted to this Office alone by the City, this Office determined that the personnel matter was an appropriate ground for an emergency meeting and executive session. Because the Council is not required by FOIA to give notice of an emergency meeting, their choice to do so shortly before the meeting cannot be held to violate FOIA. However, the Council did violate FOIA by failing to vote to go into executive session and record the minutes, including the results of a vote, of that meeting. The Council is thus asked to prepare minutes of that meeting and provide them to this Office within 10 business days of their next regularly scheduled meeting.Read More
17-IB26 07/18/2017 FOIA Opinion Letter to Mr. Herman Holloway, Jr. re: FOIA Complaint Concerning the Wilmington Housing Authority
Petitioner alleged that the Wilmington Housing Authority (“WHA”) violated FOIA at its February 27, 2017 Board meeting by (1) first posting notice on February 22, 2017; (2) originally noticing an executive session to begin at 3:30 PM and the open public meeting to begin at 6:00 PM; and by (3) amending the agenda that was posted in the lobby of the building where the meeting occurred on the day of the meeting. HELD: There was no FOIA violation. WHA provided evidence that notice was posted ten days in advance of the meeting and that the notice was amended on that date to reflect that the 3:30 event would not be an executive session but a “briefing”. Further, they provided evidence that the 3:30 event described as a “briefing” was a social meet-and-greet at which public business was not discussed and thus would not implicate FOIA requirements.Read More