After the city of Memphis blew off our previous FOIA request for security camera footage from the pound, the request was amended. I should explain that the previous request was for 3 days worth of footage but only from 10 specific cameras so, had it been fulfilled as required by law, it would have amounted to less discs than the February 7 request. With the amended request, the number of discs was pared down even further, with only 2 days requested from 10 cameras. I was anticipating a significantly reduced fee for this footage in comparison with the $200 the city charged for the February 7 footage, which included all 48 cameras in the building (since we didn’t know what each showed and the city wouldn’t tell us).
Today I received the bill. I’m telling you now, don’t be taking a swig of any beverage you don’t want to be cleaning off your monitor in 5 seconds.
Per the city attorney, we have to come up with $800 for 2 days worth of footage from 10 cameras. This is less than half the discs requested for the February 7 footage yet instead of charging half the fee, they are charging four times the fee.
I don’t know that it’s worth it to pay this and here’s why. We already have ample video evidence of neglect and abuse from the February 7 footage and it has been completely ignored by the interim director, the mayor and everyone else involved with MAS. They obviously do not care about animals being hurt by their employees. How much good is it reasonable to expect we might accomplish by obtaining additional evidence?
On the other hand, I am all for transparency and the right of the people to hold their government accountable. And I consider this to be a group decision since it would be the group paying the fee so I’m putting it out there for your opinion. Do you think obtaining additional FOIA footage from MAS is worth $800?
I hope to pre-emptively quash any talk of “The $800 could be better spent on X, Y or Z”. This is not a valid argument. If we raise $800 for the FOIA request, it’s going to come from a large number of contributors who specifically want to see the footage. It can not be legitimately argued that all these same people would have each contributed the same amount if we were collecting for X, Y or Z. Please consider whether you feel the FOIA fee is worth paying based upon the merits of the footage itself and not how the money could potentially be otherwise spent.
If we decide as a group to go ahead with this, I will set up a ChipIn. (Assuming ChipIn goes that high – sheesh. Hopefully they don’t have a what-you-talkin-bout-Willis limit on the site.) But as of right now, there is no ChipIn for the FOIA request – it’s merely up for discussion. I don’t want anyone to be confused by the previous post which is aimed at raising $60 for the WordPress video fee for the blog.
Lastly, as a point of reference, the video footage request falls under the TN Open Records Act and the section describing “reasonable costs” begins on page 2 of the document.