Sadly, we understand the Freedom Of Information Act isn’t called the “Free Information Act.” And whether or not the public’s access to vital information should be more affordable is for another editorial on another day (here’s a hint: It most definitely should be), a Virginia delegate’s bill simply makes it harder and more expensive.
Del. Paul Krizek, a Democrat from Fairfax, filed a bill that would require all public records requests in the state to be mailed by certified mail. Let’s be frank, this adds more burden on the public that has a right to that information and, to be ever more frank, it is just dumb.
According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the impetus behind Krizek’s bill comes from his failure to check his email spam folder, where a citizen’s FOIA request ended up. So, instead of being like the rest of the general public and slapping a Post-It note to the side of his monitor with “CHECK SPAM!” written on it, he decided to try and add another cost for citizens, who already have to pay for any costs associated with compiling the information they request. Again, information we all have a right to see.
As expected, the Virginia Press Association is no fan. Neither is this newspaper.
“I don’t understand this,” Betsy Edwards, VPA executive director told The Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Frankly, neither do we.
The good news here is Krizek told the RT-D he appears to have learned his lesson and will now be checking his spam folder every five days — the amount of time officials must respond to a FOIA request.
May we suggest that he, an elected official, do it a little more often. And when you, Mr. Krizek, make the mistake of not checking, you don’t pass your mistake down to the residents of the commonwealth with an additional cost of certified mail for information that, again, we have every right to see.