Last month, CityCaucus.com filed a Freedom of Information request with the Vancouver Police Board Chaired by Mayor Gregor Robertson. We were curious as to how much the Board spent fighting Vancouver Courier columnist Allen Garr in his attempt to obtain a copy of the infamous shoot out poster (see photo). Former Vancouver Chief of Police (now Victoria Chief of Police) Jamie Graham left the poster on former City Manager Judy Rogers desk a few years back and it generated a lot of controversy.
It took Garr over almost two years of legal haggling to obtain a copy of the poster, which in the end the Board decided to make available to all the media. Well now we have our response from the Police Board regarding how much all that legal jostling cost taxpayers. The grand total is $XX,XXX. Sorry folks, we've been told by the Board that despite their silly attempts to fight Garr in the courts were paid for by taxpayers, you'll never know how much it cost.
We made if very clear in our FOI request that we were not asking for hourly billing rates, nor how many hours of work were performed. We merely asked for the grand total of how much fighting Garr cost taxpayers. Here is an excerpt of the response we received in the mail:
"The Board takes the position that legal bills are protected by solicitor-client privelege and may be withheld under s. 14 of the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act."
That's right folks, the very legislation that is supposed to make government open and transparent, is the very legislation the Board cites when it claims it can't provide us the information we're trying to obtain.
So it is very likely that you, the taxpayer, will never know how much it cost the Police Board to fight Mr. Garr's attempts at obtaining a copy of the poster - which in the end was provided to all the media.