Recently, fellow civic affairs blogger Frances Bula stood in front of the class and gave every blogger a stern talking to for having the audacity to FOI records at City Hall. According to Ms. Bula, getting records out of City Hall is as simple as picking up your iPhone.
Well, we thought we’d try out her theory. Our crack research team placed a call to the City’s Corporate Communications department headed by Laurie Best, to determine if we could obtain a copy of the $60,000 contract she signed with PR firm Hoggan and Associates.
Right off the top the staffer questioned whether CityCaucus.com was a legitimate media outlet. We’re not sure if Bill Tieleman (former Glen Clark staffer, now successful blogger and 24Hrs columnist), or The Tyee are grilled in the same way about their legitimacy. Perhaps the next time we call Corporate Communications we’ll do our best Tieleman impersonation and let you know what happens.
After we outlined the fact CityCaucus.com occupied every square foot of the impressive CityCaucus Tower, held satellite offices across Canada, and a marketing department stationed in Toronto, the City staffer finally acquiesced. She promised she would "look into our request" and get back to us.
About four hours later, our research department got a call back from Corporate Communications. The staffer proceeded to tell us what was already in the public domain, but refused to provide us with an actual copy of the contract.
"We don’t routinely release those types of records because they have third party information on them. If you want a copy of the Hoggan contract, you’ll have to FOI it." said the staffer.
So back to Ms. Bula’s theory about the simplicity of obtaining documents from City Hall. Needless to say, we’ve now filed our FOI request. Stay tuned for more on this story.
On a side note, kudos to the Vancouver Courier’s Allen Garr for his persistence in using FOI legislation to obtain a document relating to former Vancouver Police Chief Jamie Graham. In this case, persistence paid off.