Another Open Email To Miami’s Public Records Department

TO: Jones, Isiaa <>
SUBJECT: Frustration Over PRR 16-452: FOIA Request
September 28, 2016

CC: Melendez, Eleazar <>; Russell, Ken (Commissioner) <>; Mendez, Victoria  <>; Hannon, Todd <>; The Loyal Readers of the Not Now Silly Newsroom; Various Facebook Groups and Pages of my choosing

Monday morning I sent an email which stated I’d be at Miami City Hall on Tuesday to inspect the files you said would be waiting for me. In that email I asked 2 questions, basically: Whether the fee for the emails I requested was still on the table and how much it costs to photocopy per page.

I never got a response to that email, so I didn’t know when I arrived on Tuesday morning whether my 24 hours notice was sufficient. Luckily, when I arrived, I was expected.

There were 2 boxes of material for me to look through, but only a small portion of the total answered any of my search criteria. The rest was just all the city files that arrived in those boxes from the former-Commissioner’s office.

While some of it was quite interesting — and I wish I had the budget to photocopy that entire 2 inch thick Reid Welch file — and while some of it matched my search criteria, none of it is what I asked for.

I asked for all of the email, not the files.

I mentioned this to City Clerk Todd Hannon during a brief conversation yesterday. He had me second guessing myself because he said I had asked for everything, and the boxes of files was just one stream for my request. The other stream was the electronic request for all of the emails.

I am not sure what instructions Mr. Hannon received, but this is exactly what I asked for, from my original email to Commissioner Russell:

I would like to receive any email [from the former District 2 Commissioners office] that references the following keywords:

And, I’m still waiting.

To be perfectly honest, I was requesting the email FIRST in case it gave me new information to add to a RECORDS search. You see, my RECORDS search would have come later, based upon what the emails revealed.

I drove down to Miami from Sunrise yesterday hoping to do all of this on one trip. No one in the Clerk’s office knew a thing about the email I was supposed to examine. Aside from the gas wasted, I spent more than 3.5 hours on the road  [Yeah, it shocked me too. The roads were bad yesterday.]

Thinking about my time and gas makes me wonder how many keystrokes it took your IT guy to come up with a cost of $100.31. How many minutes from an IT guy am I paying for? What is the basic rate?

One good piece of news: I now know that you charge 15 cents per photocopy, because I got a few made out of those boxes. That’s Kinko pricing.  

Meanwhile, I’d like to draw your attention to the penultimate paragraph of a letter Commissioner Ken Russell sent to the Miami Herald, published yesterday:

Our decision on Thursday morning is not an easy one, but it is very simple. Our attorney withheld public records, and I have lost my trust in her. This cannot be denied, and it’s enough to call for her removal. What’s at stake, however, is much greater. The commission has this opportunity to tell the public that we prioritize transparency and accountability — that we don’t agree that friends in high places should be able to circumvent our public process.

I’m still waiting for transparency. None of this should be as hard as it has been.

About Headly Westerfield

Calling himself “A liberally progressive, sarcastically cynical, iconoclastic polymath,” Headly Westerfield has been a professional writer all his adult life.