As part of some research we're doing on a tip we received from Vancouver City Hall, CityCaucus.com made two separate requests under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Knowing how busy it is at City Hall these days, our requests were quite simple and straight forward.
We asked for a copy of the incoming and outgoing emails for Penny Ballem, City Manager for her first 8 weeks on the job. We also asked to view the cellular phone bills and about 4 weeks worth of emails for Laurie Best, Director of Communications.
Well, today we received our "official" response from this new open and transparent government. It came in the form of a bill for $2,155 to obtain those records. That's right, over $2K to get photocopies of a few emails and cel phone bills.
"The Act provides that we may excuse you from paying all or part of the fee if you cannot afford to pay or there are other reasons that justify excusing the fee, or if the record relates to a matter of public interest..."
Does having no money in our corporate bank account qualify as being unable to pay?
In the end, our executive team agreed to put our $350 per hour legal team on the case, and they're quite confident we'll have proper grounds for appeal. As for the tip we received, well, we're still working on that one. Stay tuned and wish us luck.