Delay, Delay, Delay. 100 days and counting after spending $4,000!
Since my last post about BOLI employees possibly working illegally for Brad Avakian's campaign, the story has exploded as it was picked up by Forbes columnist Adam Andrzejewski who wrote a story about how bad this looks and it became the top Google search yesterday. Since then, both Willamette Week''s Nigel Jaquiss and the Oregonian's Hillary Borrud have written news stories about the Forbes article and I have been contacted by a Portland Tribune reporter who is also interested.
Yet there is another story here of delay, delay, delay for other public records requests OCWF made at the same time back on July 15, 2016. As part of the anonymous tip OCWF received about this issue, we also made identical public records requests of the Governor's office and the Speaker of the House. These requests were for official calendars, credit card receipts and reimbursements to employees.
DAS's Matt Shelby responded immediately and he passed our public records
requests to each public body. I was contacted by those agencies and over time was given costs estimates for all requests, amounting to nearly $4,000, which we paid (except $510 which was just billed to us last Friday by Legislative Counsel's office who represents Speaker Kotek)
100 days after our original request OCWF has still not received our public records requests from the Governor or the Speaker (though Legislative Counsel emailed saying they had the DVD ready to snail mail to me). Both BOLI and the Governor's office refused to begin processing our requests until they had received money from OCWF (we paid all on 9/1/16 as soon as we got the invoices) and the Governor's office has not yet produced the information. The Speakers office through Legislative Counsel said they would not charge us until they completed our requests.
During that time period, I received multiple emails from both organizations delaying several times their original completion date estimates. No real reasons were given to us for these delays and it seems to us that they have been slow walking fulfilling our already paid for requests.
Oregon law gives agencies and public bodies broad latitude on the timeline to fulfill our request and the right to charge whatever their costs are to fulfill records. That said, one has to wonder why it takes so long for the government to fulfill it's obligation after being paid for the information.
Government imposes monetary fines on us citizens on a per day basis in certain circumstances, yet they can take their time in fulfilling their legal obligation to us (even after being paid) with no monetary consequences to them.
Perhaps it's time for a citizens initiative to create a law that creates monetary consequences when they delay, delay, delay their legal obligations to the citizens.
Just a thought...