There were several articles in the Roanoke Times about the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Sunshine week. Transparent, open government is something to be celebrated.
The Roanoke Times printed an example of an official FOIA request. It is our policy in Blacksburg that, if someone gives a verbal request, or sends an email, it is our duty to fulfill that request. No extensive verbiage required.
Yes, if the request is extensive, there will be a charge. It is important how taxpayer money is spent. If an employee spends two days researching such a FOIA request, that is time away from the employee’s duties with the town. And, the charge never covers the total cost to research and supply the information.
Therefore, we try our best to work with the person making the request, to focus on the information they want, and give it to them in the most thorough efficient manner. But we always strive to supply the information they think they need.
And, unlike the cartoon in the Roanoke Times, it does not take months to deliver the requested information.
I have always taken the position, that as elected officials, we need to not only adhere to the letter of the law, but also the spirit.