Governor violates FOIA laws

By Jacob Nakamura

news@kanditnews.com


(Susupe, Saipan) Last week Kandit News sent the Governor of Guam the following emails:


"November 14, 2019

ATTENTION: Governor Lou Leon Guerrero Office of the Governor of Guam Ricardo J. Bordallo Governor's Complex Hagatña, Guam 96910

Hafa Adai!

This request is made pursuant to the authority granted by the “Freedom of Information Act." I hereby request electronic copies of the following documents: (1) All communications, including any attachments, sent to or from any governmental email address established, controlled, or used by Ms. Janela Carrera between the dates of September 1, 2019 to November 14, 2019.  (2) All records referring or relating to the use of any governmental email address established, controlled, or used by Ms. Janela Carrera between the dates of September 1, 2019 to November 14, 2019. (3)  All communications, including any attachments, made or received using any governmental communications device established, controlled, or used by Ms. Janela Carrera between the dates of September 1, 2019 to November 14, 2019.  (4) All communications, including any attachments, sent to or from any nongovernmental email address established, controlled, or used by Ms. Janela Carrera between the dates of September 1, 2019 to November 14, 2019.  (5) All records referring or relating to the use of any nongovernmental email address established, controlled, or used by Ms. Janela Carrera between the dates of September 1, 2019 to November 14, 2019. (6) All communications, including any attachments, made or received in connection with the transaction of government business using any nongovernmental email account or nongovernmental communications device established, controlled, or used by Ms. Janela Carrera between the dates of September 1, 2019 to November 14, 2019. See Competitive Enterprise Institute v. Office of Science and Technology Policy, 827 F.3d 145 (D.C. Cir. 2016); 36 C.F.R. §§ 1222.10, 1220.18.  Thank you, Troy Torres"


We sent another FOIA for the same records relating to Janela Carerrea's boss Carlo Branch.


Under 5GCA Chapter 10 the Sunshine Reform Act of 1999, the Governor was to respond to this request by yesterday. Today we emailed Janela Carerra who apparently is NOT on vacation today in the Mediterranean Ocean, and asked whether they were going to respond to our FOIA requests. Her responses are below:

Kandit News is well aware that their responses violate the Guam Freedom Of Information Law which requires $1,000 fines to each person who violates (and they must pay these fines out of their own pocket) and they can also - according to the law - be charged with criminal misdemeanor charges. So we sent this response:

"Governor Leon Guerrero,

This is in reference to your second correspondence to our office this time for documents regarding Carlo Branch. Thank you for your correspondence. I am copying the Office of the Attorney General on this request to include their FOIA specialist Assistant Attorney General Karl Espaldon in order to assist you in clarifying the law regarding the Freedom of Information Act.

We sent the FOIA request for information Thursday night. As of yesterday, you did not respond which is a violation of  § 10103(d) which required you to respond within four (4) working days. You did not ask for an extension under section (e).

Furthermore, our request was for electronic copies of the documents. Under §10104(b) you are required to provide this to us electronically as these records are originally in electronic format. Specifically the language says you "shall provide the record in any form or format requested by the person if the record is readily reproducible by the agency in that form or format."

As for you excessive copying fees (and please note that this is illegal and goes against the very intent of the FOIA law) we are quite confused by your math. You quote a previous request for documents indicating it is 6,000 pages of documents at a cost of $1,800.00. I refer you to §10203(b) which states you may charge the general public a copying fee for documents not to exceed ten cents (10¢) for the first page of any requested document, and two cents (2¢) each for any remaining pages. At most those documents would be $120. However, we did not ask for photocopies and instead asked for electronic copies. 

Under §10103(b) we will be coming up today to specifically view all of the public documents requested in the FOIA requests and all previous requests which you appear to be holding hostage for $1,800.00. There will be no need for us to pay anything since according to the law "public records are open to inspection at all times during the office hours of the agency and every person has a right to inspect any public record." Please direct us to the individual we can meet with today to inspect the documents.

Please note that any further violation of the Sunshine Reform Act of 1999 will result in our organization filing a lawsuit against you under 5GCA §10111.

Please pass on to your legal counsel the link to Assistant Attorney General Karl  Espaldon's very informative presentation on the legal requirements for agencies under the Sunshine Reform Act of 1999. They can view his presentation at http://guamag.org/pages/open%20government/FOIA.html  Or you can visit our Kandit News website where we have a special section informing the residents of Guam of their rights under the FOIA laws at https://www.kanditnews.com/post/know-your-rights-under-the-guam-sunshine-law.

Your staff may call my cell at 456-4237 to notify us of who we are to meet with at Adelup to inspect the documents.  Thank you. We will see you this afternoon to inspect all of the requested public documents.

Troy Torres Kandit News “The more that government becomes secret, the less it remains free.” James Russell Wiggins "



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