Tuesday , 22 May 2018

City of McKinney Apologizes for $79,000 Open Records Request Invoice

Andy Cush, a reporter for Gawker, published this article on June 29, 2015 which states that the City of McKinney was expecting $79,000 for records and emails related to now-resigned McKinney Police Corporal Eric Casebolt.

Casebolt was the officer at the center of the controversy regarding a video that went viral after McKinney Police responded to calls of a disturbance at a Craig Ranch pool party on June 5, 2015.

According to the letter (seen below), emails occurring before March 1, 2014 are not searchable and it would take “Programming Personnel to execute an existing program or to create a new program” at a cost of $63,583.50 just to collect the appropriate data.

“Since when are year-old emails not searchable,” Cush wrote is his article. “Is the city of McKinney still corresponding via telegram?”

Laura Kayata, president and founder of the political action committee McKinney Watchdog, says that she was asked to pay $4,535 in March, 2014 when she submitted an open records request for financial documents pertaining to police seized asset funds.

“They said it would be 1200 pages of documents, but we just picked up 1600 pages of documents on [the Friday before] and it was only $268,” explained Kayata. “The city explained to me that they have issues locating emails prior to 2012 because of their archaic IT system, but why is that ok? Isn’t it their legal responsibility to make sure they have access to all emails? Why have they not implemented a method to improve that retrieval process?”

The first official response to Gawker from legal council for the City of McKinney states the following:

“The City has determined that a portion of your request requires programming or the manipulation of data…Before the City will compile these portions of your request, a payment of $79,229.09 is required.”

Here are the itemized cost estimates provided by Gawker (click to enlarge).

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Below is a copy of the original letter sent to Gawker reporter Andy Cush (click to enlarge).

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On Wednesday Anna Clark, City of McKinney Communications & Media Relations Manager, released the following apology to Cush.

“The letter you received in response to your request was erroneous, and we apologize.

The number quoted to you as a cost estimate for your records request is not accurate. We sincerely apologize for the misinformation and the ensuing confusion, and we agree that the cost of more than $79,000 is at best implausible. The cost estimate was reached by mistake and should never have been communicated to you as a requestor for public records.

Please know we are working diligently to come to a reasonable and accurate estimate based on your request. While many requests regarding this incident, including yours, are voluminous, in no way would the city presume to charge such an exorbitant fee.

Again, we apologize for the inaccurate estimate. Please expect a revised letter from the attorney’s office with an updated cost estimate and accompanying details.”

Gawker has filed an amended request that now only asks for emails dating back to March, 2014 and has been told that a new cost estimate will be sent soon.

By Sawyer Erickson

Documents provided by Gawker

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