|Submitted||May 22, 2013|
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To Whom It May Concern:
Pursuant to the Maine Freedom of Access Act ("FOAA"), I hereby request the following records:
All electronic records generated or received from November 1, 2012 until present and which can be considered to be associated with, or relate to:
1.) the state considering and/or being advised as to whether the Northeast Regional Planning Body (NE-RPB) is a federal agency, entity, or endeavor;
2.) the NE-RPB being considered and/or defined to be a “convening body”;
3.) the status of the NE-RPB under state law, regulation, gubernatorial executive order or policy of any state agency;
4.) policies, guidelines, and recommendations concerning the process by which NE-RPB decisions are made including, but not limited to, decisions of the executive secretariat;
5.) sources of NE-RPB funding and/or support (including donated goods and/or services);
6.) conditions attached to funding the NE-RPB receives;
7.) NE-RPB information disclosure policies and/or any records with respect to how to respond to information disclosure requests;
8.) the activities and/or communications involving the NE-RPB executive secretariat;
9.) Northeast Regional Ocean Council (NROC) funding and/or support (including donated goods and/or services);
10.) policies, guidelines, and recommendations concerning the process by which NROC decisions are made;
11.) any conditions attached to NROC funding;
12.) policies and procedures regarding personal identifying information (PII) that may be collected and/or used by NROC, and any records associated with that PII and any state and federal/state privacy laws;
13.) any association between NROC and Seaplan;
14.) NROC hosting, maintenance, use and/or access to the NE-RPB webpage;
15.) ownership of the NROC Internet domain and all records related to the proxy being used for purposes of ICANN reporting and/or registration;
16.) NROC meetings that involve regional ocean planning, inclusive of those records that discuss those planning activities in relation to NE-RPB activity;
17.) amounts and rates associated with NROC expenditures on administration, staff, overhead, business expenses, and contributions;
18.) policies, guidelines, and recommendations, recorded discussions concerning NROC staff or personnel engaging in lobbying activities at the federal, state, and/or local level;
19.) the Massachusetts Ocean Partnership and/or Seaplan, including any conflict of interest statements that include reference to those entities;
20.) public private partnerships and/or requirements for public accountability, transparency, and/or information disclosure policies involving non-governmental entities;
21.) private and/or public funds being transferred to Massachusetts Ocean Partnership, Seaplan, and/or NROC;
22.) Third Sector NewEngland funding to the State, Massachusetts Ocean Partnership, Seaplan, and/or NROC;
23.) the policies and procedures associated with any PII that may be collected and/or used by Seaplan, and any records associated with that PII and any state and federal/state privacy laws;
24.) complaints, disputes, legal actions, and/or other similar records associated with Seaplan and any person associated with Seaplan;
25.) any limitations of liability, assignments, licenses, and/or waivers that involve Seaplan and/or Seaplan produced, provided or received data, information, and services;
26.) agreements/contracts/memoranda of understanding between any of the NE-RPB, NOAA, and NROC “partners”, collaborators, and contractors, including, but not limited to, Seaplan;
27.) decisions, notices, and communications related to NROC and/or Seaplan maps or the Northeast Data Portal at the public NE-RPB engagement meetings scheduled for May and June 2013;
28.) NROC and/or the NE-RPB referencing offshore wind power generation issues of maintenance, security, safety, and lifespan of generation structures;
29.) any communications and/or requests referencing the U.S. Congressional Committee on Natural Resources and ocean planning in the Northeast; and
30.) communications to/from/regarding the Council on Environmental Quality, Grover Fugate, Nick Napoli, John Weber, Stephanie Moura, Laura Cantral, Deerin Babb-Brott, the National Ocean Council, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Consensus Building Institute, and/or members of the state or federal legislatures.
I also request that, if appropriate, fees be waived as we believe this request is in the public interest, as suggested but not stipulated by 1 M.R.S.A. § 408(6). The requested documents will be made available to the general public free of charge as part of the public information service at MuckRock.com, processed by a representative of the news media/press and is made in the process of news gathering and not for commercial usage.
In the event that fees cannot be waived, 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.
Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 10 business days, as the statute requires.
To Whom It May Concern:
I wanted to follow up on the following Freedom of Information request, copied below, and originally submitted on May 22, 2013. Please let me know when I can expect to receive a response, or if further clarification is needed.
Thank you for your help.
Good Afternoon Mr. Hatfield,
I apologize for the delayed response regarding your FOAA request, I completely overlooked it. The Department is currently in the process of communicating with the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry (DACF) to compile the information that you have requested. I will be able to provide you with an update on the gathering of this information by the end of this week (06/14). Thank you for your patience. If you have any questions in the meantime please don't hesitate to contact me.
Thank you for your email. I do look forward to an update on the requested materials.
All the best,
A letter stating the requester must agree to or prepay assessed or estimated fees in order for the agency to continue processing the request.
Good Afternoon Mr. Hatfield,
The Department of Marine Resources has conducted a thorough search of its files and we do not have any of the materials that you have requested. The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry will be responding to your request separately regarding their files. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me.
Thank you for your response. Would you please indicate what files and locations were searched for the electronic records I requested?
It may be that my request was not throughly read since I believe the Department of Marine Resources would have electronic records that would be described as:
"communications to/from/regarding the Council on Environmental Quality, Grover Fugate, Nick Napoli, John Weber, Stephanie Moura, Laura Cantral, Deerin Babb-Brott, the National Ocean Council, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Consensus Building Institute, and/or members of the state or federal legislatures." Please note the "and/or" language used in my request.
For example, I believe, based on email copies supplied by your office earlier this year, that multiple emails exist in the accounts of both Kathleen Leyden and Meredith Mendelson that include at least Grover Fugate and John Webber as senders or recipients (e.g. March 19, 2013 email (11:25 AM) from Grover Fugate to Kathleen Leyden, an email that later appears in Meredith Mendelson's email account).
I look forward to hearing from you as to what files and locations were searched, and to receiving the Department of Marine Resources records that appear to have been inadvertently overlooked.
All the best,
Thank you for following up. Although I thought I had thoroughly read your request, I did not understand Item #30 to be a request was for all communications to/from the people and organizations listed under your Item #30 and instead had interpreted it as all communications with those people regarding CEQ, so I appreciate your clarification. You are correct that I have email communications from/to/regarding John Weber, Grover Fugate, and Nick Napoli, including those previously provided to you as part of your earlier request.
To confirm, you would like to receive all emails that include these people and organizations as subjects of discussion in the email, or include them in the to/from/cc fields? I suspect this will take a few hours to pull together, and I will do my best to get to it this week.
The Department is unable to waive the fees for this request, but will provide the initial hour of search at no cost, per state law, and at a rate of $15/hour for each additional hour of searching and compilation of the requested records. We can provide the response electronically as you requested.
Good Afternoon Mr. Hatfield,
Attached please find an estimate of the charges for compiling, copying and mailing your request. Once you have approved these charges we will mail your request to you.
Under M.R.S. Title 1, Section 408-A (8)
8. Payment of costs. Except as otherwise specifically provided by law or court order, an agency or official having custody of a public record may charge fees for public records as follows.
A. The agency or official may charge a reasonable fee to cover the cost of copying. [2011, c. 662, §5 (NEW).]
B. The agency or official may charge a fee to cover the actual cost of searching for, retrieving and compiling the requested public record of not more than $15 per hour after the first hour of staff time per request. Compiling the public record includes reviewing and redacting confidential information
If you have any questions please don't hesitate to contact me.
To Attention Of:
Mari Wells--Eagar, Esq.
Assistant to the Commissioner
Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and
In response to the July 1, 2013 letter from the Maine Department of Marine Resources and Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, I would like to narrow the request to electronic records consisting of:
"communications to/from/regarding the Council on Environmental Quality, Grover Fugate, Nick Napoli, John Weber, Stephanie Moura, Laura Cantral, Deerin Babb-Brott, the National Ocean Council, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Consensus Building Institute, and/or members of the state or federal legislatures."
Good Morning Mr. Hatfield,
I am in receipt of your payment for your FOAA request, I will be mailing the disc of information out today. Please let me know if you have any questions.
I am following up on your request for documents from the Maine Coastal Program, Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. We've completed the compilation of documents per your request. The total documents package is 672 pages and took 5.5 hours to compile. The final billable amount is $245.25. The formula is below. Please advise as to whether or not you would like us to proceed.
* $168.75 for the records (671 pages X $.25 + $1 for the first page)
* $37.50 for Kathleen Leyden's time (2.5 hours X $15 - includes first hour free of charge)
* $30.00 for Matt Nixon's time (2 hours X $15 - includes first hour free of charge)
* $9.00 for Fedex shipping to DEPT MR, Boston, MA.
Thank you for your response. It appears that your agency has identified and segregated many of the requested records. I have several questions based on your response:
1.) Is the the use of "Fedex shipping" a statutory requirement under the Maine statutes/regulations concerning information request responses by agencies?
2.) What is the Maine statutory authority for charging $0.25/page for electronic records? I assume that email in the State of Maine is maintained in the normal course of business in electronic format. I requested the records in electronic form, and expected to receive them in the form normally kept by the State of Maine. In fact, my request should properly have been construed to encompass all metadata associated with the requested records. I of course would be willing to make concessions in that regard for the sake of lowering the burden on your agency?
3.) What charges would apply to personal inspection of the electronic records already identified and segregated?
I have received no response from you or your office to my last email. Considering that 10 days has past, I would appreciate you responding. Please understand that the way the MuckRock project operates is to make all communications and records disclosures entirely public on the Internet. This full and free public disclosure also operates to show how responsive government is/is not to its citizens.
Given your last response to me, I would be interested in why your agency denied my fee waiver request. I understand that granting a fee waiver is discretionary on the part of the agency, however, merely ignoring the waiver request and/or denying the waiver request without any explanation appears to undercut the very public policy principles which such waivers were intended promote. The records I requested are clearly for public dissemination and are part of a journalistic based effort on MuckRock. In addition, the requested records also fall into a narrow class of records which can be described as records having material significance to how a Maine governmental agency carries out governmental business that directly influences coastal Maine residents and property owners. It seems that the public would be very well served by you and your agency deciding to waive the fees and disclose the "671 pages" you have already compiled on state time.
I look forward to your timely response this this email.
As a followup to your last email, would you please in addition to answering my other outstanding questions provide me with information as to what records are being withheld by you and your office.
Specifically I am asking because part of the apparent rationale for allowing Maine state agencies to collect fees for the public records they generate is that a disclosure review of records can be made. In this case, you stated that 671 pages of records were identified as responsive and disclosable, but did not indicate whether any records were considered to be non-disclosable. If all of the responsive records are disclosable, it would seem that the requested records would be of a type for which little or no review is necessary. As such, four and a half hours of review would seem highly extraordinary. However, if the disclosable records were interspersed among records you and your agency deemed to be non-disclosable, then four and one half hours would seem more reasonable. In either case, I am requesting that any records known to you or your office to be non-disclosable yet responsive to my request be listed or otherwise summarized (e.g. 500 pages of records were deemed to be non-disclosable).
I look forward to your response.
I am sorry for the numerous emails, but I did just notice something in you billing letter that seems to raise another question. Your letter states:
"The total documents package is 672 pages and took 5.5 hours to compile...$37.50 for Kathleen Leyden's time (2.5 hours X $15 - includes first hour free of charge)...$30.00 for Matt Nixon's time (2 hours X $15 - includes first hour free of charge)". The expenditure of time appears by yourself and Ms. Leyden appears to total only 4.5 hours (2.5hrs + 2hrs = 4.5hrs). You do say that the fee calculation "includes first hour free of charge", however, does this mean that the total time was 6.5 hours (3.5 hours X $15 for Ms. Leyden, and 3 hours X $15 for you)? I am asking because you state "includes first hour free of charge" following each itemized expenditure of time, as such it appears you are claiming a free hour was allocated to each worker's effort?
Could you please let me know where the additional hour came from, or whether your letter contains a mistake as to description, time expended, or calculated fee amount?
Again, I am looking forward to your response on my various requests.
With regards to your request, I am the middle man, so to speak. Your request came at a time when our policy liaison was not in the office for an extended period. As you can imagine, our workload is fairly significant as was your request, so it has taken our liaison some time to catch up from time off. I will forward your latest note on to her now.
With regards to your third email to me today, the total time that Ms. Leyden and I have spent collecting records for your request was 6.5 hours. As I indicated in my first response to you, and as you acknowledged in your email requesting clarification on the fees, the first hour for both Ms. Leyden and myself was free and therefore was not included in the final cost calculation.
Good Morning Mr. Hatfield. See below for our policy liaison's response. She attempted to send you this email on four separate occasions this morning but received an error message stating that the email was not delivered. She is cc'd here in the event that you have follow up questions.
I am writing to respond to your questions below. There is no statutory requirement to mail the records by Federal Express. We have sent responses by Federal Express to other people at their request, as it is a quick and efficient means of delivery. We can use a different method of mailing if you prefer.
Maine's Freedom of Access Act allows agencies to charge a reasonable fee for photocopies, which we have set at $1.00 for the first page and $.25 for every page thereafter. Our understanding is that this is in line with what other agencies charge. The records you requested are not easily accessible to us in electronic format and are not all housed in our agency. We have the documents in paper form, which is what we can provide to you. To provide them to you in electronic format would add considerably to the cost as it would involve hiring the services of the Office of Information and Technology to search electronic files.
As for the staff time involved, staff had to search through many boxes of paper files to locate all responsive documents. We are not withholding any documents that are responsive to your request., and are not claiming that any found documents are confidential. The documents were searched to exclude documents that do not relate to your request. and to ensure that we located all documents that are responsive.
Our agency decided not to waive our fee as we do not feel your request fits within 1 MRSA section 408-A (11)(B). As you know, you sent the same Freedom of Access Act request to the Department of Marine Resources (DMR). We have discussed your waiver request with DMR and understand that DMR also felt that the request failed to meet the requirements of the statute, and therefore did not waive its fee to you.
You are welcome to come and inspect the paper copies that have already been segregated, and then pay for just copies of the documents you want to take with you. You would still be responsible to pay for the staff time that was spent responding to your request. If you prefer to come to the Department to personally inspect the responsive documents, you are welcome to do that. You will need to contact me to set up a mutually convenient time. If you would like us to mail you the documents, please let me know what mailing method you prefer. We will then adjust the bill accordingly and provide you with the new amount. You will need to make your check payable to Treasurer, State of Maine. As soon as we receive your check, we will mail the documents to you.