Here at the Lucy Burns Institute at the beginning of the hazy, slow days of summer in a lake town, we’re getting several calls a week from folks who are thinking about filing an open records request who want some advice or pointers.
Here’s my quandary. What I want is for people to feel empowered to type up that FOIA request, put a stamp on it, and get it out the door.
What usually happens, though, is that I start talking about all the dozens of different contingencies in an open records request that might result in getting a denial, and how they might handle that.
Before long (I’m sure) the person who called is thinking, “Oh, geez, it’s just going to be too much trouble” and feels the opposite of empowered.
I want people to be empowered with information, but to also have a reality-based view of what might happen, and I don’t think I’m splitting the difference very well.