Sometimes getting documents through the so-called sunshine laws is akin to watching paint dry. In fact, that would be faster.
A case in point: On Sept. 15, I asked the state for a one-page letter that the Office of Children and Family Services had just sent out.
Pretty simple, right? It was available under the Freedom of Information Law, but I had to actually FOIL for it, they said – they could not just give it to me.
Fine. I FOILed for it.
On Sept. 22 – six business days later – I got a response acknowledging they had received my request. They promised to give it to me or correspond with me further by Oct. 16.
On Oct. 23, I got an email from them saying that “the Office, despite its diligent efforts, needs additional time to complete your FOIL request, as the Office is still in the gathering and reviewing document phase of your FOIL request.”
This time, OCFS promised to give me the letter by the end of February. Seriously, they said they’d need up to 90 additional business days to find and review a one-page letter.
By comparison, the Queensbury Town Clerk reviewed thousands of emails and gave them to me in 11 business days. I asked for them on Oct,.12 and she gave them to me on Oct. 26. And for this, Clerk Caroline Barber apologized to me twice. In one email, she wrote, “I have spent the last two days reviewing them. Unfortunately I was not able to complete my review for release. My goal is to have this completed and to you by next Wednesday October 25, 2017. Please bear in mind this also depends on my office workload as well but I will do my best.”
She was able to get them to me on Oct. 26, but that wasn’t good enough for her. She wrote, “Unfortunately we were not able to complete the FOIL today as we had hoped. But we should have this ready for you tomorrow afternoon as long as our IT Department can do their part and prepare the extraction of the records. I will email or call you as soon as it’s ready. My apologies!”
Contrast that with the state’s form letter in which they pretend they are too overloaded to possibly find that letter until next year!