The most daunting day-to-day obstacle to FOI: money…

A pal of mine at the Columbia Daily Tribune offers a timely reminder of the frustrations requesters face daily when seeking information….

UM President Tim Wolfe has had some 90 suggestions sent to him through the online suggestion box he launched late last month.

I know this because I put in a Sunshine Law request for them. And, once again, university officials are asking the Tribune to pay for the time they say is needed to separate anything that might be exempted from the open records law.

The total charge for my request is $55.30.

That includes $9.75 for 10 minutes to locate the information. How do they come up with that? Apparently, they’re going to ask someone who makes $50.70 an hour to find the records (which are all sent through one online portal).

Then, they want 10 cents a page for the 90 e-mails for copying costs, even though I don’t want paper but rather emails so I’m not sure what “copies” they’re referring to.

What we’re not willing to pay for is the $36.55 they say is needed to separate closed and open records. That’s because we do not believe the law requires the public or news outlet making a request to pay for separating closed material from open documents.

 

Secret University Searches, and the Excuses Made for Them…

The Associated Press reporter Alan Zagier wrote a nice story looking at the tale of two very different searches at my university, one fairly open, one Vatican-like in its secrecy…and I lob an incendiary quote in for good measure!

“The law school search really demonstrates the power of this institution to attract high-caliber candidates in a very public search,” said Charles Davis, an associate professor of journalism and former executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition. “There are institutions all over the country that run public searches, and they work fine. None of them have dropped off and fallen into the ocean, last I checked.”

Some states, notably Florida, legally require public colleges and universities to disclose finalists’ names in chancellor and presidential searches. That’s not the case in Missouri, which leaves it up to schools and their governing boards.

At our shop, everyone else runs partially open searches, but the top job is top secret.