Dear Supervisor Arnold and the Marin Board of Supervisors:
I am writing to you as a resident of Novato to log my objection to the County of Marin’s proposed charges for public access to public records. This item is on tomorrow's [8/22/2017] Marin County Board of Supervisors agenda as follows:
ITEM 11. First Reading: Ordinance establishing service fees and service rates for the Department of Finance in order to recover reasonable costs of providing services to the public and other agencies. Recommended actions: Request clerk to read ordinance by title only and schedule merit hearing for September 12, 2017, at 10:00 a.m.
I am currently out of town, otherwise I would attend your meeting to voice the following objections:
- County information belongs to the public;
- The county is supposed to operate as a non-profit;
- The county’s attempt to create this fee is discriminatory to low income persons;
- The county is in Conflict-of-Interest with itself — this policy incentivizes the county to be non-transparent to Marin residents who fund its operation in order that it may collect (exorbitant) fees;
- The county has caused these proposed fees because the county has failed to conduct its business in a transparent manner where all documents are held in an electronic format on publicly accessible servers. If the county had conducted itself in completely transparency manner there would be no need to ask county staff for copies of “public” records;
- If adopted, other county agencies and JPAs will adopt similar rate schedules — how is the fee to be assessed at other county agencies where documents inter-relate (County Engineering, BOS, Planning, Human Resources, etc.)?
- Per document or per documents-that-relate-to-an-issue? If the documents are incomplete and this triggers additional Public Records Act requests, the county will likely face lawsuits on the basis that it has supplied incomplete information and then charged taxpayers.
- The county should not be using PRA requests as a profit center to pay for its unfunded pension liabilities;
- Implementing this proposed fee will cause much disruption to the county because the proposed fee will trigger on-site public reviews of documents, disrupting county worker production in an extreme manner.