|Submitted||Aug. 13, 2018|
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To Whom It May Concern:
Pursuant to the Vermont Public Records Act, am requesting emails regarding Burlington's relationship with Propy, a California-based real estate and "blockchain" startup.
Specifically, I am requesting all emails (and attachments) sent to, from, or between Burlington 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 Propy and South Burlington in 2017 or 2018. Specifically, I am requesting all emails containing "@propy.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 the city 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.
The City of Burlington is in receipt of your public records request. Am I correct in assuming that your second request is actually for “all email (and attachments) correspondence between Propy and” Burlington “in 2017 or 2018” and not correspondence between Propy and South Burlington?
Assistant City Attorney
(802) 865-5352 (ph)
Begin forwarded message:
Ah, yes, you are correct. Both requests are about Burlington emails.
I adapted this request from an earlier one I had made to South Burlington; sorry for the error.
The City of Burlington is in receipt of your public records request seeking: (1) “all emails (and attachments) sent to, from, or between Burlington 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): Propy[;] propy.com[;] Natalia[;] Karayaneva[;] Voloshyn[; and] Cildermane[;]” and (2) all emails [(and attachments)] containing ‘@propy.com’ in any of the following fields: To[;] From[;] Cc[; and] Bcc.” Email from B. Waters, Aug. 13, 2018.
Records responsive to all portions of your request, excluding emails and attachments containing the keyword “Natalia,” are attached as PROPY001-PROPY254.
A search of our email archiver captured approximately 1,250 emails where the word Natalia was contained in the subject, body or attachment to the email. Given the way our archiver searches, the City can only cull out the emails that were captured because the word “Natalia” was in an attachment by uploading all of the approximately 1,250 emails to a second program, as was done with the emails responsive to the rest of your request. Based on past experience, the City believes that this will take approximately 30 minutes. Once that upload and search are completed, the City will still need to manually de-dupe email chains, and review each remaining email to see if any of the emails or attachments contain information exempt from public inspection and copying. 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 1,250 emails will be responsive that yields a time estimate of approximately 30 hours to complete this portion of 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 Aug. 15, 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, which has already been more than expended responding to the rest of your public records request.
Based on the City’s estimates above, the City estimates that it will cost between $800 and $1,000 to respond to the remaining portion of your public records request. While this is just an estimate, the City will require a payment of the lower end of that estimate ($800) prior to doing any additional work on the remaining portion of your public records request. If you do choose to proceed with this last portion of 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 this portion of 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.”).
As for information that is exempt from public inspection and copying in documents marked as PROPY001-PROPY254, the City redacted limited information on pages PROPY011, PROPY070, PROPY215, PROPY220-PROPY221, PROPY230, PROPY234-PROPY235, PROPY246-PROPY247, and PROPY249-PROPY250. This information was redacted pursuant to 1 V.S.A. § 317(c)(7), which exempts from public inspection and copying personal information, 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 . . ..” 1 V.S.A. § 317(c)(17). No records were withheld in full.
Since I have determined that certain information is exempt from public inspection and copying I am required to inform you that you have a right to appeal this decision to Mayor Miro Weinberger pursuant to 1 V.S.A. § 318(c)(1). See also 1 V.S.A. § 318(a)(2). Appeals should be made in writing and directed to: 149 Church Street, City Hall, Room 34, Burlington, VT 05401.
Assistant City Attorney
(802) 865-5352 (ph)
Thanks for the response, especially your very transparent explanation of fees and redactions.
It sounds like there are more Natalias walking around than I counted on. The documents you've already provided are great and appear to be just what I was looking for. Therefore, I'll decline to pay the fees.
Again thanks for your time and effort,