I have chosen to make this a public reply to an email recently received from the City of Miami’s Public Records Department.
TO: Jones, Isiaa <IJones@miami.gov>
SUBJECT: PRR 16-452: FOIA Request
DATE: September 16, 2016
CC: Melendez, Eleazar <ElMelendez@miamigov.com>;
Russell, Ken (Commissioner) <firstname.lastname@example.org>; Mendez,
Victoria <VMendez@miamigov.com>; Hannon, Todd
<email@example.com>; The Loyal Readers of the Not Now Silly
Newsroom; Various Facebook Groups and Pages of my choosing
Hello and thank you for your prompt attention to my FOIA request, which I first sent to the office of the District 2 Commissioner Ken Russell. You’ve summed up my keyword search criteria correctly.
However, while some may feel the fee to acquire these emails small, as a citizen blogger with a budget of $0 and zero cents, I simply cannot — will not — pay this cost. If I were, say, the Miami Herald, I could easily afford this. Unfortunately these are topics that never much interested the Miami Herald. So, it’s left to a citizen-journalist-blogger like me to ask these inconvenient questions.
I have been writing about Trolleygate and Soilgate as separate issues from their beginnings. However, recently it began to appear as if there is a connection between these two stories. Hence, my records request.
Tangentially, there was a time in this country when anyone could wander down to the local City Hall and ask to take a look at a file. Now one must pay the costs of retrieval, from an expensive and complicated system the city set up, because that’s the only option. While I understand how that makes sense fiscally, costs like this run counter to the Florida Sunshine laws. The information should be free.
Additionally, in your email you state:
The process to create the storage media will take approximately 4 business days after receiving the approval and payment. The costs includes [sic] searches for Civilian mailboxes. Police mailboxes are not included. If the request is related to a law matter case or may include any other exempted emails then a review of the results may be required before being released and this may add more delivery time and cost.
That means there will almost assuredly be additional, hidden, costs because at least one of these matters was the subject of extensive litigation, which the city of Miami eventually lost. This cost the City of Miami and the city attorney’s office a hefty legal bill that has yet to be tallied. [Hey! That might make another good Public Records Request, but one thing at a time.]
IRONY ALERT: As was in all the local newspapers, the current District 2 Commissioner, Ken Russell, requested the firing of the City of Miami attorney because he says his office no longer has any faith in her. And, why is that? Because when his office asked her office to produce emails, some were not forthcoming.
Yet, due to city protocol, here’s how Eleazar Melendez, Chief of Staff at the Commissioner’s office, was forced to reply to my FOIA request:
I am passing your email to the city attorney’s office, as we discussed, in order to fully and legally comply with this public records request. They will perform a full and exhaustive search for the terms requested and, as we discussed, might ask for a payment in order to cover resources being dedicated to performing the search.
The City of Miami attorney the District 2 Commissioner wants fired replied:
Will handle. Thx.
Victoria Méndez, City Attorney
Consequently, and for the reasons listed above, I am CCing the current District 2 Commissioner to see whether he is interested in discovering what kind of strange deals were made by his predecessor to:
1). Get Armbrister Field AstroTurfed over so quickly, especially considering other parks were being closed due to toxic soil [Read: Marc D. Sarnoff ► Everything Old Is New Again];
2). Get a relative clean bill of health for Armbrister Field while he was closing other parks that had toxic soil, even though parts of Armbrister Field was recently closed due to toxic soil [Read: Armbrister Field Contaminated After All! Was There An AstroTurf Cover Up?];
3). Appear to act as political lobbyist and fixer when he intermediated between Astor Development and a community group to offer $200,000 to remediate Armbrister Field with AstroTurf in order so that they drop their objection to the Trolley maintenance garage being built on Douglas Avenue [Read: Is Marc D. Sarnoff Corrupt Or The Most Corrupt Miami Politician?];
4). Subtly threaten his constituents to withdraw his approval supporting local community initiatives if they refuse to drop their objections to the Trolley maintenance garage [Read: The Trolleygate Dog And Pony Show];
5). Possibly helped the developer find a way around a City of Miami’s Planning and Zoning e-mail that flagged the Trolley maintenance garage as non-conforming [Read: BLOCKBUSTER!!! The Trolleygate Smoking Gun Surfaces];
6). Totally ignore the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in order to force a non-conforming Trolley maintenance garage onto Douglas Avenue [Read: Trolleygate Violates 1964 Civil Rights Act ► Not Now Silly Vindicated];
7). So quickly close 6 parks and begin remediation plans without any consultation with the ratepayers, who also happened to also be his own constituents in some cases;
8). Illegally apply (then remove, then deny he ever had ever done so in the first place) a Brownfield Field Site designation in the neighbourhoods surrounding these parks deemed toxic [Read: When Miami Commissioner Marc D. Sarnoff Lied To My Face].
That is why I am making a formal request to the current District 2 Commissioner Ken Russell to request these documents on behalf of the citizens of West Grove, who have been fighting systemic racism for many decades.
It has always been my contention that many of the decisions that affected West Grove made by the previous office-holder appear to have been a modern day extension of the systemic racism that has plagued the West Grove – and, to make a larger point, the entire country – over the last century. [Read: Modern Day Colonialism and Trolleygate] There is no way a Trolley maintenance garage would have ever been sited near Shipping and Virginia and it’s instructive to note that Blanche Park, across the street from the previous office-holder, was the first park closed due to toxic soil and remediated (and remediated more than once, for that matter).
I just want to find out what was happening behind the scenes while the constituents were being kept in the dark.
Thank you for your prompt attention to these matters.
Chief Word Wrangler
Not Now Silly Newsroom
My Freedom of Information requests from the City of Miami are beginning to add up, not to mention all the other costs of researching systemic racism and corruption in Coconut Grove