Monday, March 21, 2011
IN HAEC VERBA: Interior Department Illegally Delays Response to Freedom of Information Act Request on St. Augustine's 450th for Eleven Months --
Sent: Fri, Mar 18, 2011 6:09 pm
Subject: FOIA Request OS-2010-00246 -- St. Augustine 450th Commemoration Commission and DoI compliance with FACA and 1964 Civil Rights Act -- Yes, we still want the records; No we do not agree to any further delays
Dear Mr. McInerny:
In response to your February 25, 2011 form letter, which you sent to me as our Secretary of the Interior's personal FOIA officer:
1. Yes, we still want the records.
2. Yes, we still request a fee waiver. We would have been willing to pay $25 IF DoI had ever done anything to comply with FOIA's mandatory deadlines. Bu DoI hasn't done so -- DOI should be ashamed to ask for money about a matter involving potential civil rights violations by DOI I the City of St. Augustine, which has a long history of racism from which we are just beginning to recover. In fact, Rev. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said in his June 11, 1964 letter to rabbis that St. Augustine is the "most lawless city in America." Our City and County have some 11,000 years of compelling human history, including Native American, African-American, Civil Rights and Hispanic history, as well as natural beauty and splendor that is unsurpassed. Our history and natural resources must be protected and not neglected. That is why we need a National Civil Rights Museum here, under DOI auspices, as part of a St. Augustine National Historical Park, National Seashore and Scenic Coastal Parkway. Please see http://staugustineunderground.net/2011/staugustine/news/florida/readers-rail-st-augustines-history-is-a-national-treasure/916/
3. We requested expedited consideration when the request was filed on April 20, 2010 -- nearly eleven months ago. If any fees are due, the Secretary's staff should waive them. On November 21, 1974, I was working for Senator Ted Kennedy as an undergraduate intern the day that FOIA was enacted, over President Gerald Ford's veto -- I was proud to walk Senator Kennedy's press release on the historic FOIA veto override to the three Senate press galleries that day. I am an experienced FOIA requester and won declassification of the largest mercury pollution event in the history of this planet in 1983. Where FOIA is concerned, I reckon that Congress meant what it said and said what it meant in overriding President Ford's veto. There are still federal officials who hate FOIA, despise FOIA requesters and do everything they can to undermine us -- as I observed first-hand in taking the Attorney General's Advocacy Institute two-day course on FOIA/PA in August 1988. As Bill Clinton said, "a right without a remedy is simply a suggestion." FOIA requesters should not be obliged to file federal court lawsuits to receive prompt responses -- that should be a given. No more excuses, please - DoI has not complied with my request. This is unacceptable. DoI must resolve to do better, from this day forward.
4. No, we don't think missing the FOIA's mandatory 20 day deadline -- by a country mile -- justifies anything other than an abject apology and full compliance. Any exemptions have been waived by DOI's inexplicable delay.
5. The records sought are essential and materially relevant to protection of civil rights here in St. Augustine and at DoI.
6. The prior St. Augustine City Manager's antique, unenlightened notion of appointing only "rich and powerful people" to a Federal Advisory Committee Act committee involving the 450th Anniversary of the City of St. Augustine was a stench in the nostrils of our Nation. It would violate civil rights laws and FACA. We know that President Obama and Secretary Salazar want no part of such agendas and neither does the current St. Augustine City Manager (or current City Commission).
7. Dr. Robert Hayling, DDS was the father of the civil rights movement here in St. Augustine. Dr. Hayling has recently and rightly criticized the lack of diversity on our City's First America Foundation (FAF) board. http://jacksonville.com/news/metro/2011-02-17/story/civil-rights-leader-urges-st-augustine-involve-blacks-citys-anniversary. ; Lack of diversity in our City's federally-funded celebration of our 400th anniversary in 1965 led Dr. King and local activists to activate, resulting in worldwide coverage and breaking of the filibuster against the 1964 Civil Rights Act, resulting in passing the legislation that secured the rights of minorities and women to equal rights in employment, education, public accommodations and housing. We believe that FAF also violates Article I, Section 24 of the Florida Constitution and our Open Records and Sunshine Laws. Our prior City Manager's intentions in requesting that Secretary Salazar appoint "rich and powerful people" to a FACA-chartered advisory committee were deeply suspect. We have a right to know exactly what was said and to whom.
8. DoI must not imitate our City of St. Augustine in its historic illegality and insensitivity. Secretary Salazar must appoint a diverse FACA committee to the St. Augustine 450th Anniversary Celebration Commission, one that is diverse and fairly balanced as FACA requires.
9. Thus, the American people have a right to know exactly what our City of St. Augustine (under its prior City Manager) said to DOI about appointing rich and powerful people to a Congressionally-mandated FACA committee that is required by law to be "reasonably balanced." We have a right to have our FOIA rights respected and not neglected.
10. Will you please provide the requested records by PDF by close of business on Monday, March 21, 2011? Will you please send me all records generated in response to my April 20, 2010 request, including any documentation of work on response to my 11-month old request?
Dear Mr. McInerny:
1. Pursuant to FOIA and the Privacy Act, please E-mail me next week all paper and electronic documents concerning:
A. The proposed National Civil Rights Museum in St. Augustine, Florida.
B. The proposed St. Augustine National Historical Park, National Seashore and Scenic Coastal Parkway Act. (please see attachments).
C. Any and all documents on me, my uncomplicated April 20, 2010 FOIA request and any documents on any efforts to respond to my request.
D. An aged listing of all pending FOIA requests to the Office of the Secretary and their subject(s).
E. A listing of all FOIA requests to the Secretary made on or since April 20, 2010, showing which have been responded to and which are still not answered (and why).
F. Any documentation for the putative justifications for delays given in your February 25, 2011 form letter (e.g., lack of federal funds).
G. The present and prospective levels of funding for FOIA processing at DOI, including all detailed budget justifications seeking more funds and the disposition of all such requests. If there is not a separate line item for FOIA/PA, please provide the detailed budget justifications for the account(s) under which these activities are funded.
H. Any requests for additional funding for FOIA/PA request handling from DoI or the Office of the Secretary.
I. A listing of all discretionary funds available to the Secretary to respond to FOIA requests and what discretionary funds have been requested to halt delays.
J. All program evaluations, audits, Congressional hearings, lawsuits and citizen complaints re: DoI's FOIA/PA operations.
K. All plans, directives and orders from the Secretary for improving DoI's FOIA/PA response time or any other documents evidencing the accuracy the last sentence in your form letter, in which you state, "Within the Office of the Secretary, we are committed to providing you, our customer, with the highest quality of service possible."
2. I request a waiver of any and all fees under FOIA/PA as the release of the requested information is in the public interest and I have the experience and ability to assure that the public receives the benefit of the information, which will advance the cause of public understanding of government operations at DoI.
3. By separate E-mail attachment, I am sending you my c.v. in support of the fee waiver request.
Thank you in advance for your full compliance with FOIA. Please take steps so that no requester ever has to wait eleven (11) months to receive an obnoxious form letter like the one that you mailed on March 1, 2011 (backdated to February 25, 2011).
P.O Box 3084
St. Augustine, Florida 32085-3084