|Submitted||Aug. 27, 2018|
MuckRock users can file, duplicate, track, and share public records requests like this one. Learn more.
To Whom It May Concern:
Pursuant to the Vermont Public Records Act, am requesting emails regarding Burlington Electric's relationship with Omega Grid, a Chicago-based energy and "blockchain" startup.
Specifically, I am requesting all emails (and attachments) sent to, from, or between Burlington Electric employees or officials in 2017 or 2018, containing any of the following keywords (please make sure to search both the subject field as well as the emails themselves):
Additionally, I am requesting all email (and attachments) correspondence between Omega Grid and Burlington Electric in 2017 or 2018. Specifically, I am requesting all emails containing "@omegagrid.com" in any of the following fields:
I realize that these queries may generate a large amount of responsive records. In that case, I would be happy to correspond directly with BED's IT department to formulate a more focused query.
In the event that there are fees, I would be grateful if you would inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request. I would prefer the request filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not.
The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.
To Whom It May Concern:
I wanted to follow up on the following Vermont Public Records Act request, copied below, and originally submitted on Aug. 27, 2018. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.
Thanks for your help, and let me know if further clarification is needed.
The City of Burlington is in receipt of your public records request seeking: (1) "all emails (and attachments) sent to, from, or between Burlington Electric employees or officials in 2017 or 2018, containing any of the following keywords (please make sure to search both the subject field as well as the emails themselves): Omega Grid[;] OmegaGrid[; and] omegagrid.com[;]" and (2) "all email (and attachments) correspondence between Omega Grid and Burlington Electric in 2017 or 2018 . . . containing '@omegagrid.com' in any of the following fields: To[;] From[;] Cc[; and] Bcc." Email from B. Waters, Aug. 27, 2018. We are sorry that it has taken so long to respond, but the initial request was not received, possibly because of an error in the entry of the email address for Paul Alexander.
A search of our Burlington Electric email archiver, which saves a copy of all emails sent from/to/cc/bcc a burlingtonelectric.com email address, captured approximately 370 emails responsive to your request. With attachments, this totals approximately 650 documents, comprising more than 2,750 pages.
Approximately 225 of these emails-approximately 300 documents comprising approximately 1,250 pages-were sent from/to/cc/bcc an omegagrid.com email address and a burlingtonelectric.com email address. The remainder of the emails captured in the City's search were not sent from/to/cc/bcc an omegagrid.com email address, but do contain one of your three keywords or phrases. Only six of these emails were sent in 2017, with the remainder sent in 2018, and none of the emails or attachments are more than nine pages long
Before the City can produce any records in response to your public records request it will need to review each document to determine (1) if it is a duplicate email chain, which usually cuts down on redaction time, and (2) if it contains information that is exempt from public inspection and copying pursuant to Vermont's Public Records Act. If the City makes the conservative estimate that it will only take, on average, two minutes to review each email with attachment to determine what information, if any, is exempt from public inspection and copying, and that approximately 75% of the approximately 370 emails will be responsive that yields a time estimate of approximately 9 hours to complete your request.
Vermont statutory law and the State of Vermont's Uniform Schedule of Public Records Charges for State Agencies (CVR 04-000-002), which is adopted by Vermont's Secretary of State, entitles the City to charge a reasonable and established fee for responding to public records requests. See 1 V.S.A. § 316(d); see also A Matter of Public Record, A Guide to Vermont's Public Records Law at p. 9, available at: www.sec.state.vt.us/media/560403/a-matter-of-public-record-2014.pdf (last visited Sept. 3, 2018). These fees are set at $0.45 per minute for non-senior level staff and $0.57 per minute for senior-level staff for time spent reviewing and redacting requested public records beyond the first thirty minutes.
Based on the City's times estimates above, the City estimates that it will cost between $230 and $290 to respond to your public records request. This estimate excludes charges for the free thirty minutes that are allowed for under State law even though more than 30 minutes was expended running the requested searches. While this is just an estimate, the City will require a payment of the lower end of that estimate ($230) prior to doing any additional work on your public records request. If you do choose to proceed with your public records request, and upon completion of the review, the City will provide you with a statement of time and any overage refunded or underage billed. All records will be provided in an electronic format, either as an attachment to an email or a secure download.
If you do not wish to pay the estimated fee, the City would be happy to work with you to narrow your request. See 1 V.S.A. § 318(d) ("In unusual circumstances, as that term is defined in subdivision (a)(5) of this section, a public agency may request that a person seeking a voluminous amount of separate and distinct records narrow the scope of a public records request."). I can also perform additional searches within the emails, and attachments, responsive to your request, which might help you narrow in on the records that you are looking for.
While the City has not reviewed these records for exemptions, the City expects that some information contained therein will be exempt from public inspection and copying pursuant to 1 V.S.A. §§ 317(c)(1) and (c)(3), which exempts from public inspection and copying attorney/client communications; 1 V.S.A. § 317(c)(7), which exempts from public inspection and copying personal information; 1 V.S.A. § 317(c)(15), which exempts from public inspection and copying "[r]ecords relating specifically to negotiation of contracts[;]" and 1 V.S.A. § 317(c)(17), which exempts from public inspection and copying "records of interdepartmental and intradepartmental communications . . . to the extent that they cover other than primarily factual materials and are preliminary to any determination of policy or action . . .."
Assistant City Attorney
Burlington City Attorney's Office
149 Church Street
Burlington, VT 05401
(802) 865-5352 (ph)
(802) 865-7123 (fax)
IF YOU ARE NOT THE INTENDED RECIPIENT: This information in this e-mail and any attachments is confidential and intended solely for the use of those to whom it is addressed. This communication may contain material protected by the attorney-client privilege. If you are not the intended recipient, or someone responsible for delivering this message to an intended recipient, be advised that you have received this e-mail in error and that any disclosure, forwarding, copying, printing, or distribution is strictly prohibited. If you have received this e-mail in error, please notify us immediately by calling (802) 865-7121.
IF YOU ARE THE INTENDED RECIPIENT: Please note that: e-mail is not a secure method of communication; any e-mail that is sent to you or by you may be copied and held by various computers as it is transmitted; and, persons not participating in our communication may intercept our e-mail communications. If you do not wish to receive communications from us by e-mail, please notify us immediately by calling (802) 865-7121.
Please note that this communication and any response to it will be maintained as a public record and may be subject to disclosure under the Vermont Public Records Act.
Thanks for the breakdown. That is a *lot* of emails!
Given the fees, I'm going to withdraw this request, and instead submit a request for specific documents which I've learned about in the interim. If I am interested in Omega Grid emails again in the future, I will make sure to submit a much more focused request.
Thank you for your email. We will treat this request as withdrawn.
Assistant City Attorney
(802) 865-5352 (ph)