It’s Tuesday, so it must be time to focus on a Transparency Hero or two.
Reporter Matt Stiles of the Houston Chronicle describes the overcharging and run-around he experienced looking for open records about vehicles captured running red lights by cameras.
The records he wanted were maintained by a private contractor. The city of Houston requested that Stiles pay this private contractor $115 more per hour than he would have paid had the city maintained the files.
I didn’t think that was legal, so I complained to Mayor White’s press office, as I often do when I get resistance from city departments, and the police backed off the higher price.
I like that. We also need to make sure that citizen FOIAers with few if any connections to power and without the resources of a newspaper behind them have a place to turn when they face unreasonable delays and excessive fees.
Shelby watchdog Joe Saino blogging at Blue Collar Republican says that getting campaign finance reports from his county–about county and city elections–is quite a challenge:
At the present time it is necessary to go to their office downtown and ask to see the file of a particular candidate. You are then required to fill out a form giving your name and address and it was stated on the form that your name would be reported to the candidate whose file you were asking for. (Now, at the Watchdog’s insistence, that statement has been deleted and hopefully the name is not reported to the candidate as this notification requirement has been deleted by state law).
Good for you, Joe.