Council rebuffs Nickles request for more time on public records
Attorney General Peter Nickles' request for more time to respond to public requests for government information is unlikely to gain traction in the Council, where two members -- Muriel Bowser (D-Ward 4) and Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) -- have introduced legislation to increase access and transparency.
Nickles said the District is inundated with complex Freedom of Information Act requests and needs a "safety valve" of additional time to respond, similar to what federal law allows.
But Cheh said Nickles "is looking for an open-ended excuse not to comply, and he's not going to get it. It's a simple invitation to delay, an invitation to mischief."
Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray, who is challenging Mayor Adrian Fenty in the September Democratic primary, also rejected the idea, calling the current response period "sufficient."
"What it says to me is they are not really forthcoming with the information people are requesting," Gray said.
In testimony prepared for Cheh's committee, Nickles also takes aim at her legislation to create a new independent agency designed to facilitate public requests for information.
Nickles writes that the bill is unnecessary because the Fenty administration is creating an electronic system that will make it easier to submit and track FOIA requests. Cheh's legislation, he said, would create an "unnecessarily punitive and adversarial approach that casts government agencies and their employees as villains to be punished and pursued."
June 24, 2010; 10:10 AM ET
Categories: D.C. Council
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