Apr 22, 2010

UPDATED Grouchy eco-bureaucrats FOA responses suggest politics or paper wrenchers

When one looks back at the bureaucrats one has encountered over the years,  there seems to be a  certain surliness from time to time. Usually, this signals that a developer or polluter under review is a political Bigfoot, and a certain predetermined result is being sought by the ruling party's officials.

Such are the responses I've recently received when chipping some information free from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection's Office of Innovation and Assistance, and prying some loose  from the Maine Department of Conservation's  Bureau of Parks and Lands. Makes one wonder what'g going on behind the scenes.

Conservation's Bureau of Parks and Lands  replied with this forbidding form letter, while MDEP's Office of Innovation and Assistance's slightly personalized response letter  was, if anything, more unfriendly than Parks and Lands' missive.

Both agencies replied to the innocuous FOA queries (for  memos and emails sent and recv'd the first two weeks after the legislature approved the ocean energy act) as if locating this information, which altogether must occupy  no more than two or three manila folders in  file drawers only inches from the replying staffers in their respective cubicles, would require a gargantuan effort that would require extra billing and time.

It seems as though they feel themselves victims of FOA Abuse, and must reply in kind. By FOA abuse I mean those requests that demand tens of thousands of pages of documents across myriad subdepartments for years back in time, for relatively spurious reasons. Wielding the Freedom of Access Act simply to tie up government workers' time.

By contrast, Penobscot Bay Watch FOA requests are typically tightly focused; the receiving officials needing to do little searching to locate them.  But...guilt by association, one guesses.  

UPDATE: Spoke with MDEP's Pete Carney who said that he'd given the Innovations  staff until tomorrow to round up their info for me.  FOA abuse? Carney wouldn't put it that way, but he noted that  the Freedom of access law is being increasingly by litigants instead of waiting for 'production of the record' by the opposing side. This  has increased the amount of file searching and copying by magnitudes. Thus the grumpiness of the MDEP  form letter.

No comments: