|Submitted||Nov. 9, 2010|
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To Whom It May Concern:
Pursuant to the state Freedom of Information Act, G.L.M. c.4, €7, clause 26th, I hereby request the following records:
A table including the following data on appeals of fines and parking tickets since July 1, 2009 (one record per appeal):
- Type of violation on the ticket or fine
- Amount being fined
- Date when the appeal was requested by the recipient
- Date of the appeal hearing
- Name of the hearing officer
- Indicator showing whether the appeal was successful or not
- Reason why appeal was successful or not
Additionally, for denied appeals
- an indicator showing whether the recipient took the matter to a court
- the outcome of the court case
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 the recommendations of the Massachusetts Supervisor of Public Records. 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.
Filed via MuckRock.com
185 Beacon St. #3
Somerville, MA 02143
Daytime: (857) 488- 3081
Unfortunately, no table currently exists for what you have requested. As a result, the City is not required to create a record in response to your request. While no tables exist, to the extent that you are seeking documentation reflecting this information, the City is happy to produce documentation reflecting this information, in accordance with applicable public records law, but it will not include all of the fields you have requested. The cost estimate for search and segregation of the majority of fields is approximately $226.5, which represents 5 hours at $60/hr x 3hrs + $15.50/hr x 3hrs per hour.
Please send check payable to the City of Somerville in the amount of $226.50. Upon receipt, the City will promptly provide the documents to you.
Again, this report will not contain every field which you requested below.
Can you please clarify which fields the City can produce, and why the others cannot be produced?
Are the others recorded in a separate database or not at all?
And what format would these be provided (electronic, as an excel? As a database file? Printed out?)
Sure. See below for answers to your request.
From: Requests Muckrock [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, November 18, 2010 2:27 PM
To: Matthew Dias
Cc: David Shapiro; Frank Wright; Susan Tkaczuk
Subject: Re: Freedom of Information Request: Appeals of Fines and Parking Tickets
Can you please clarify which fields the City can produce, and why the
others cannot be produced?
The Following can be produced:
Type of violation on the ticket or fine
> - Amount being fined
> - Date when the appeal was requested by the recipient
> - Date of the appeal hearing
> - Name of the hearing officer
> - Indicator showing whether the appeal was successful or not
> - Reason why appeal was successful or not
Are the others recorded in a separate database or not at all?
The following cannot because these fields are not recorded:
> - an indicator showing whether the recipient took the matter to a court
> - the outcome of the court case
And what format would these be provided (electronic, as an excel? As a
database file? Printed out?)
A JPEG or PDF print out.
Can you include an indicator showing whether the appeal was made by mail or in-person?
I believe we can do that as a separate field. If, for some reason, we cannot, I'll let you know prior to accepting payment and acting upon your request.
Hi Barry. We were unable to include that specific info in the report you requested due to the number of fields you requested. If you wanted that field included over another field per say, I could ask for another report to be generated. However, the more times I go back to them and require analytical assistance above and beyond what they already offer, the more we get billed for their services. Naturally, the less specific the report, the easier it is to generate. So many reports I can generate on my own, but this one I was unable due to all of the fields requested.
Let me know if you need anything else.
I see. I wonder whether they could fit more columns on each page with the landscape format (rotated 90 degrees)? I'd prefer to have that indicator than Ticket Number, could we please do that?
My vendor thinks it may be possible, but it will require approximately 2 additional hours of programming, above and beyond what we have already put together for you.
Would you like me to price out that additional 2 hours of their time? Similar to before, since no table currently exists, the City is not required to create a record. However, I can ask them to produce the information, in accordance with applicable public records law, but it will cost additional money and time.
Let me know. Thanks,
I'm glad that this will be possible, but I am disappointed that there will be an extra cost since you had assured me you'd like me know that prior to accepting my payment (see your Nov 23 response below). Given that and the fact that this information is being requested in the public interest, I ask that you please waive any additional fee to make this update. Please let me know if this will be possible.
I seem to have overlooked my Nov. 23rd email. Apologies. Therefore, I will return your check based on that omission.
Going forward, I am happy to generate a revised cost estimate if you seek another report. Let me know.
Apology accepted, however I'm not sure it makes sense for either of us for you to return my check. The first reason is that you've already done the work to gather and provide most of the data, so I'm not sure how you'd cover that cost without my payment. Indeed, the fact that you're offering to return my check after providing the dataset calls into question whether the price you gave me was justified in the first place. The second reason is that, and correct me if I'm wrong, it would be cheaper for you to gather the additional indicator field to produce a new dataset than it would be to forfeit my check.
Anyway, how much extra would it cost for a new dataset with the new indicator field?
And would you be able to include it in addition to what's there (perhaps by rotating the page) or would you need to replace a field (Ticket Number) ?
I am willing to incur the costs because of my oversight, not because the costs are unjustified in any way. Please remember that, because no table currently exists in our software system, by law, we are not required to create a record in response to your request. However, as a courtesy, I am attempting to accommodate your request to the best of our ability.
Based on the last two sentences highlighted below, I take it you would like me to generate a new cost estimate? Please confirm.
Just to be clear, which costs are you willing to incur?
I will not charge you for generating and creating the report you have already received from me. If you are requesting another report with those additional fields, I will generate another cost estimate for you.
Ok, I would appreciate the new cost estimate and whether you can append it to what's there or if you need to substitute a field.
Just to clarify, to clarify, the indicator field should tell whether the appeal was online, by mail, or in-person.
Initial feedback on your request is that they are still unsure if this information is captured in a manner that they can actually generate a report on. They are looking into it…but the individual responsible for writing the report manual (the point person for special requests) is on leave. They hope to have an answer for us by the end of the week or early next week.
No problem, thanks for letting me know.
Your request can be partially fulfilled. That is, we can only create a that depicts whether a hearing was adjudicated online or not (meaning the appeal was either held online or held in person/written correspondence). The latter two fields (in person and written correspondence are combined as one).
In accordance with applicable public records law, the City is happy to produce documentation reflecting the information you request to the extent that it is available. However, no table currently exists for what you have requested. The City is not required to create a document to respond to a request where such a document does not already exist. The cost estimate for search and segregation of records is approximately $196.5, which represents 5.5 hours ($60/hr x 2.5hrs + $15.50/hr x 3hrs per hour).
As previously discussed, I will return your previous payment and await new payment prior to moving forward with fulfilling the request.
Sorry Barry. I hit send without proofreading. See red text for a complete sentence.
Your request can be partially fulfilled. That is, we can only create a report that depicts whether a hearing was adjudicated online or not (meaning the appeal was either held online or held in person/written correspondence). The latter two fields (in person and written correspondence) will be combined as one field.
Thanks, Matt. Just to confirm, it sounds like you're offering to add 2 more fields, one for online/not-online and one for in-person/written and these two fields will be in addition to what was provided before. Will any fields be eliminated?
Really it’s just replacing the ticket # field with a field that indicates whether or not the hearing was conducted online or in person/us mail. The ticket # field will be eliminated.