SC

Nikki Haley’s Admin Stonewalls Ravenel Bridge FOIA Request

AGENCY CONFUSES CITIZEN WITH NEW MEDIA REPORTER S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s Department of Transportation (SCDOT) is blocking a private citizen’s request for information on the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. bridge in Charleston, S.C. – confusing the man with a reporter for a new media outlet. Specifically, this outlet … Last week,…

AGENCY CONFUSES CITIZEN WITH NEW MEDIA REPORTER

S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley’s Department of Transportation (SCDOT) is blocking a private citizen’s request for information on the Arthur Ravenel, Jr. bridge in Charleston, S.C. – confusing the man with a reporter for a new media outlet.

Specifically, this outlet …

Last week, Charleston resident Jock Stender sent an email to Haley’s administration under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requesting “any document the Dept. of Transportation has concerning the issue of ‘air draft’ that was part of the planning, scoping, or budgeting, of the (Ravenel) bridge.”

Stender sent his FOIA request to Haley on the basis of a pair of articles published on this website (HERE and HERE). He reached out to Haley’s office after receiving no response from the SCDOT.

What happened next?

Well, Stender got a form letter back from SCDOT staffer Janet Tucker advising him that he would be billed “an hourly rate of $15 for each and every SCDOT employee involved in researching and reproducing documents in response to a request, plus 10¢ per page for each page reproduced, plus the cost of any materials such as CD’s or USB drives used to furnish the documents to you.”

What? That’s how state agencies keep information hidden, people … by charging them for information they’ve already paid for with their tax dollars.

Anyway, Stender responded with a request that the SCDOT waive its fees “in view of the broad level of citizen interest in this subject.”

Three days later, his request was rejected … for a curious reason.

“We respectfully decline your request for a waiver of fees,” Tucker wrote to Stender. “The FOI Act allows SCDOT to waive such costs where it determines that the waiver is ‘in the public interest because furnishing the information can be considered as primarily benefitting the general public.’ While we recognize that your media organization or online publication seeks to serve the public interest by providing information you believe to be newsworthy or important, we do not believe it is appropriate for the State to underwrite the cost of the production of this information to you because you are able to recoup your cost of doing business by the sale of advertising, donations and other methods.”

Ha!

Stender’s response?

“I made my FOIA request as a citizen to learn and inform the public about the Ravenel Bridge, which already cost us taxpayers over $1 billion,” he wrote. “I am not in the news, publishing, TV, radio, internet, broadcasting or advertising business. I do not own FitsNews and have never met its owners. Your statement that ‘you are able to recoup your cost of doing business by the sale of advertising, donations and other methods’ is preposterous. I assume that the SCDOT with its large staff and budget has something to hide about my simple request.”

Ya think?

Gotta love the “most transparent administration in South Carolina history …

Freedom of information means that government documents must be freely available to the public. Otherwise there’s no “freedom.” Charging taxpayers for documents they’ve already paid to create is shameful … and corrupt.

Also, the last time we checked a member of the media and a private citizen were one in the same …

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43 comments

The Colonel February 24, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Dude – I’m sure this is the important issue of the day (in your mind) but dayum. The bridge was started in 2001 and finished in 2005. The Air draft is a known quantity at 57 meters.
What do you hope to learn that isn’t already known?

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Maybe.... February 24, 2014 at 1:15 pm

I’ve a feeling this might go back to the “salt” issue, when there was some talk about warranty voiding, corrosion issues, etc.

It might have nothing to do at all with ships traveling underneath it…

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The Colonel February 24, 2014 at 2:20 pm

Maybe – but the question still begs, the bridge has been hanging there for 9 years, why would Haley have anything to hide? Maybe she just wants to screw with Will (in the figurative, not literal sense)

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GrandTango February 24, 2014 at 1:16 pm

Political fishing expedition…It’s more a sign that Sheheen is in bad shape…and sinking more each day Obama sits on his throne……

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Smirks February 24, 2014 at 1:35 pm

It must really eat at you that Obama won in 2012.

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GrandTango February 24, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Unless you are a F*#king America-hating Nazi.,..it should eat at you…

Have you looked at the F*#king mess your god-Obama has made of this country????

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Gregory Geddings February 24, 2014 at 12:54 pm

“I like Santa Claus!”
-dopey kid in line behind Ralphie

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snickering February 24, 2014 at 1:18 pm

Actually you can get a perk test from DHEC Laboratory. The Lab has glass pipes because of caustic materials.

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euwe max February 24, 2014 at 10:48 pm

Hey! Who the hell are *you*?

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snickering February 25, 2014 at 1:45 am

Also the Forestry Commission and Department of Agriculture. Don’t you find it amazing in South Carolina that State Employees (all state employees) don’t know their job description states they are PUBLIC SERVANTS. As in servants to the public.

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euwe max February 25, 2014 at 6:16 am

servants that don’t work for free.

GrandTango February 24, 2014 at 1:12 pm

Sounds like some Dumb@$$ on a fishing expedition. I can’t go to DHEC, and tell the worthless regulators there to get off their lazy @$$#$ and give me a perk test…

Some idiot w/ lots of time on his hands should not have the right to make an agency go sifting through all the government paperwork to feed his hobby for the democrat party…

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ELCID February 24, 2014 at 1:27 pm

File a lawsuit!
The DOT is definitely wrong!
They can’t charge for a legal subpoena for public information.
They must make that info available at no charge.
There does not have to be copies, only making the original data available for view.
It’s for the DOT’s benefit that they make copies, not the subpoena originator.

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The Colonel February 24, 2014 at 2:21 pm

The suit would cost more than paying for the copies…

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ELCID February 24, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Not necessarily.
The DOT would be liable for all court costs when they lose.
Plus, seeing the suit filed, they know they would lose and would probably hand over the documents.

Then maybe no other SC State Agency would try that sort of trick again.

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Philip Branton February 24, 2014 at 1:32 pm

Dear Wil Folks and Jock Stender,

As a loyal “observer” I would really like for you to consider some points of thought concerning this type of FOIA issues.

Is signing up for a FACEBOOK page not free. ? Well, then why does our state government not understand how to USE an information repository such as FACEBOOK that is free rather than spend huge taxpayers dollars on systems that serve to hide information rather than show it. Just what information pertaining to city, county or state government is CLASSIFIED..? All city, county, state and federal workers are SERVANTS to the taxpayers. Are they not..? Heck, if politicians use facebook as a part of their election campaign then is it not good enough to use FACEBOOK to seek information about YOUR government..?
Call me stupid but the sad fact that this point has been left out of this article speaks volumes about your real motives. I for one expect better from FITSNEWS. This is more like a Post and Courier email exchange..!!

Think about this too……….why do you think that governments are trying to sub-contract out all forms of government work. Getting any info out of a corporation is …WHAT..?

Its really not about who we are electing to office….its the wonks serving in the administrative positions that matter…….Lin Bennett should know….ask her..!!

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Smirks February 24, 2014 at 1:41 pm

We need a governor whose sole purpose is to create transparency in government. Create one site that hosts a treasure trove of information and publicize everything feasible and possible. Have it categorized and searchable via a user-friendly interface. Put everything out in the daylight that they can. And most of all, ensure that such reporting and publicizing information becomes mandatory and can’t be stripped down by future governors.

It would require cracking the whip at the legislature but I’m sure it could be done, given the right kind of person.

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idcydm February 24, 2014 at 1:46 pm

Sounds like a good idea for the Feds too.

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Squishy123 February 24, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Happens everywhere, one institution of higher ed charges $75/hr for every man hour.

How do you expect these agencies to do it for free? If a manager has to pull an employee away to research e-mails, that’s time away from that employee doing something else. If done for free, a SC citizen could start requesting all kinds of crap from every state employee. Today I want every e-mail for the past two years from John Courson, tomorrow Glenn McConnell, next James Smith, then Jean Toal…

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Uh huh February 24, 2014 at 4:54 pm

“How do you expect these agencies to do it for free?”

Because the taxpayers are paying for it, it’s not for “free”.

” If done for free, a SC citizen could start requesting all kinds of crap from every state employee.”

Yes, that’s called accountability. It’s a bitch.

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Squishy123 February 24, 2014 at 5:54 pm

I’m a state employee, if a taxpayer off the street came up to me and told me what to do I’d tell him to get fucked. I know of requests where the agency basically told the requester the same thing, if you want them to do extra duties, you’re going to pay them extra money. Like I said, they start out at $75/hr and it runs about 3 hours of work per day of data pulled. If you want them to pull data for you at $225 per day requested, sure they’ll do it… once they receive payment.

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Uh huh February 24, 2014 at 9:13 pm

“I’m a state employee, if a taxpayer off the street came up to me and told me what to do I’d tell him to get fucked”

That doesn’t surprise me coming from a government employee. You get paid by taxpayers, yet have no respect for them. In your mind, taxpayers serve you, not the other way around.

If a guy came up to you from off the street with a request outside your job duties you’d be right, but if he comes to you with an FOIA request and it’s your job to fulfill it, that’s the law.

You don’t like it? Get a job in the private sector. Until then, settle in to the reality that the taxpayers pay you to do a job whether you like them or want to be accountable to them or not.

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Squishy123 February 24, 2014 at 9:58 pm

I also do the job that was done by three people when I first started 20+ years ago. There is not one state job description that states duties including to produce FIOA requests. If you think government employees have it to soft, then please apply for a state position you’re qualified to do. Otherwise shut your cock holster.

Show me the law… I’ll save you some time, there isn’t one.

I’ve worked for the state too long to worry about what busy-body taxpayers request without a legitimate reason. If it’s for a legal issue and I were to be paid to produce the data then you’ll get your data as long as it’s approved through the legal department. If it’s because you want to read someone’s e-mails because you feel it’s your right, then pay the fee charged by the agency and we’ll provide it for you. If you think it’s going to be given to you just because you’re a taxpayer… “get fucked”.

Uh huh February 24, 2014 at 10:10 pm

“If you think it’s going to be given to you just because you’re a taxpayer… “get fucked”.”

Oh no, I don’t think that at all. I think all you shit heads will do whatever you can do squirm out of anything remotely resembling accountability.

Your entire ability to earn a living is based on the good graces of the taxpayer, but that obviously has no impact on you.

I appreciate your illustration of your views, it’s enlightening to people that don’t understand the nature of the beast. Keep flapping your pie hole.

Squishy123 February 25, 2014 at 9:05 am

If it’s such a cushy job, why aren’t you working for the state? You don’t think state employees are accountable? Then how did I work my way from an entry-level position to an upper management position in my time here?

BTW – I’ll have a job regardless of whether or not taxpayers pay their taxes, what the state contributes to my employer is minimal. In fact, there were years where we’ve had larger budget cuts than what the state contributed.

Uh huh February 25, 2014 at 9:55 am

“Then how did I work my way from an entry-level position to an upper management position in my time here?”

I was asking myself that same question. I was thinking, “Self,”-“How does he have time to post at 2pm when he’s working so hard for the taxpayer?”

Squishy123 February 25, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Because I had the day off yesterday??? Anything else you want to know?

Uh huh February 25, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Have the day off today too?

Squishy123 February 25, 2014 at 1:49 pm

Nope, just a slow day.

I’ve noticed as well that you sure don’t seem to have trouble finding time to post.

Uh huh February 25, 2014 at 2:22 pm

Well, I work for myself-so I’ll try to be more accountable to…myself.

Btw, I gave you a “thumbs up” on your intitial post. I would like it to remain up top so everyone clearly understands your viewpoint.

shifty henry February 26, 2014 at 9:39 am

What was date of the Executive Order from Governess Nikki that banned reading/commenting/contact with FitsNews at State Agencies? And if a personal device is being used, why does he have time to post here but no time to respond to a FOI Request?

Uh huh February 26, 2014 at 3:02 pm

All good questions. I doubt we’ll see an answer.

In his defense, I’m quite sure well over 90% of those in government feel the same way as he does in regard to his responsibility/accountability to the taxpayer.

It’s a perfect example of why you can’t “fix” government, but must simply get rid of it as much as possible.

PattiAnn February 24, 2014 at 6:36 pm

This is very good news- for Sheheen and democrats in the state. The more Nikki acts like Nikki, the fewer republicans will show up at the polls in Nov. Every republican I talk to plans to stay home on election day because they can’t stand the idea of voting for a democrat but Haley makes their skin crawl.

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anon. February 24, 2014 at 6:44 pm

NIKKI HALEY ONLY CARES ABOUT NIKKI HALEY!

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euwe max February 24, 2014 at 10:51 pm

If you are rich enough, you can get the information you want. This is a libertarian concept.

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Uh huh February 24, 2014 at 10:56 pm

Good to see government behaving in a libertarian fashion…lol…now all they need to do is fire themselves and eliminate taxes.

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euwe max February 24, 2014 at 11:01 pm

The first step is to prove they don’t have to do their jobs.

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Uh huh February 25, 2014 at 12:09 am

Uh oh, it sounds like another study is needed. They’ll have to raise taxes to fund it. Oh well, it was a good old fashioned college try.

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euwe max February 25, 2014 at 12:11 am

Libertarians are a lot like fundamentalist Christians – they believe in a Messiah.

No.. wait… they’re more like Communists… they figure that after a while “it just happens” – but if it doesn’t, maybe they need to push it along.

No wait… it’s more like bugs bunny.. he lived in a hole by himself, and ate Elmer Fudd’s carrots, and when Elmer tried to kill him, he just kept hopping away.

Bugs was a libertarian? February 26, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Eeeeeehhhhh….What’s up Doc?

:)

euwe max February 26, 2014 at 3:07 pm
Bugs was a libertarian? February 27, 2014 at 12:52 pm
Dose Of Reality February 25, 2014 at 5:07 pm

I have extensive experience with FOIA request to government agencies/entities. In my opinion, and based on the ease of retrieving public information from data bases, it should not take more than 30 to 60 minutes of a public entities time to assemble this kind of information that Stender is requesting.

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