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Posted at 4:10 PM ET, 07/26/2010

FOIA officer wasting time stonewalling request?

By David Alpert

Councilmember Mary Cheh's investigation into the D.C. government's FOIA practices turned up countless examples where Mayor Adrian Fenty's administration seems to fight FOIA requests just for the sake of keeping information away from people.

I've been caught in my own "Kafkaesque" FOIA experience after trying to request information about bus stop placement on Sherman Avenue. District Department of Transportation (DDOT) FOIA officer Diana Jordan has twice violated the legally mandated time limits, denied a request on a technicality, and has now asked for additional time to complete an extremely trivial request for a single email where she surely knows exactly what I want and could deliver it in thirty seconds.

Most bizarrely of all, the purpose of this investigation wasn't ever to criticize DDOT, but to investigate a specific decision, possibly worthy of criticism, from WMATA.

At a meeting of the Pedestrian Advisory Council a few months ago, DDOT's pedestrian coordinator, George Branyan, noted that DDOT and WMATA had had some disagreements over placement of bus stops on Sherman. DDOT wanted to move them to the far side of intersections, which is generally a good practice to limit delays at signals and waiting to merge into traffic.

WMATA, however, opposed the change, for what sounded like strange reasons, and someone had created a report recommending leaving the stops where they were. I wanted to know more and figure out whether they were right or wrong.

I asked Mr. Branyan if he could forward that to me. Since he and DDOT hadn't agreed with the conclusions, I assumed it wouldn't be such a problem. He asked superiors, who suggested I get it via FOIA, so I made the request on May 21st, asking for "the report which WMATA provided to DDOT concerning bus stop placement on Sherman Avenue as part of the recent design of the Sherman Avenue streetscape reconstruction."

Continue reading this piece by David Alpert at Greater Greater Washington here.

David Alpert is founder and editor of Greater Greater Washington . The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.

By David Alpert  | July 26, 2010; 4:10 PM ET
Categories:  D.C., Fenty, HotTopic, Local blog network, Metro, transportation  
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