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Unalienable Rights Foundation - UARF's Josh Thompson's Letter to Virginia Beach Mayor Sessoms, Do you want UARF
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 UARF's Josh Thompson's Letter to Virginia Beach Mayor Sessoms, Do you want UARF

Freedom of Information [Project FOIA]

Virginia's Unalienable Rights Foundation asks Will Sessoms, Virginia Beach's Mayor if he wants UARF to sue the city every time they violate the Freedom of Information Law or would he prefer to work out the problem.

UARF's Civil Rights Case Manager, Josh Thompson , sent the following letter to Mr. Sessoms after the Beach's city Rod Ingram wrote Ingram made unreasonable demands on both Thompson and UARF.

Mr. Sessoms,

Mr. Ingram told me in his letter that our Freedom of Information Act [VFOIA and/or FOIA] requests appear to be redundant to City Officials.

While our Freedom of Information Act [VFOIA and/or FOIA] requests may appear to be redundant to your lawyer they are actually a straddled effort to obtain the information requested in the initial FOIA requests.

We have had to do this as when we appear in person in your office as you are the public record custodian’s office as set out in Virginia code Sec. 2.2-3704.A. [along with Code Section 42.1-77, 42.1-86 and 42.1-87] and ask to examine the public records UARF’s officials have been turned away and not allowed to examine the records nor at that time are we provided with a response that is in accordance with Virginia Code Section 2.2-3704.B..

And when we are provided with a written reply to the FOIA the reply we have received to the FOIA from Rod Ingram and your office is lacking by the failure of the responders to comply Virginia Code Section 2.2-3704.B..

To make sure that there is a clear understanding of what the Code requires of you and the city in your responses to a UARF’s FOIAs we include in our FOIAs the required responses that the Code sets out along with court decisions that address a responders obligations in making a response to a FOIA request.

In each and every case thus far, when coity officials have responded to an UARF FOIA request, that reply is not responsive nor complies to Virginia law.

You and every city official we have sent a FOIA request to have been provided with a copy of Virginia’s [1] FOIA law, [2] the Virginia Public Records Act (PRA), [3] Virginia Attorney General Opinion 12-052/Bundick, and the case law set out in White Dog Publishing v. Culpeper Bd. of Sup., 272 Va. 377, 634 S.E.2d 334 (2006), all of which you and city officials continuously ignore.

You told Thompson if, what you seem to be calling, replications of FOIA are coming about because the people at UARF are not in communications with each other. City officials are getting what you are calling redundant FOIAs because we are in communications with each other.

We have communicated with each other that UARF officials are being turned away when they ask for a record as set out in Code Section 2.2-3704A. without the City's Officials complying with Code section 2.2-3704.B.

And any after-the-fact response city officials make is still not in compliance with the aforesaid code sections.

We had/have a choice, we can file suit at the city official’s first denial of rights given to UARF’s officials by law or go back and ask the city official again for the public records.

There is another element that would sound senseless to a rational person, and that is, perhaps there is a personality conflict between the official responding to the FOIA and the presenter. I can not say if that is the case, only the responder can and I feel rather than ask that question of the responder it is perhaps better to have another person ask for the records.

That is what has been done, we have now asked you for the same information that Mr. Ingram was asker for and was not given [and/or found the records to be culled by city officials without the official following the law/authority to cull records as set out in Code Sec. 2.2-3704.B.] and hopefully the response from city officials will to be to comply with the PRA and FOIA laws.

You have first hand experience with this. When we asked you for the Library of Virginia [LVA] form RM 25 your office was/is required to file your first response was to send UARF a letter saying you may have the document. That is not a proper response, either you do or you don't and you must say that either you do or you don't.

When your inappropriate reply to the UARF FOIA was received we again sent you a request for the same information and included in that follow up request a cite to the code section requiring you file the form and the Bundick AGO that details the requirement of your office having a records officer.

Your response seems to say you as the Mayor and in charge of the Mayor's office have no dea what you have done and are doing.  How long have you been Mayor and how long have you not done your job? You were to  have filed the RM 25 with the LVA.  You should have provided us with a copy of that RM 25 in response to the FOIA for it. Itg appears to UARF that you and your legal team are  unaware of the requirement since  you have served your city as it Mayor.  The woman you badmouthed as incompetent that served as Mayor prior to your being elected to Mayor filed one, why have you done so? 

This being said, we, in the alternative, could have filed suit upon your inappropriate response. Instead we wrote again and request the same information and provide a few documents with the request and you took the steps to fix a problem. That is as it should be.

We currently have asked the city public record's officer for documents and access to documents and the response was not in conformity with FOIA as cited herein. We have again asked for the documents rather than file a suit. In addition since the records officer appears to us to be unwilling to follow the law in responding to our FOIA requests, we have directed that request to other city officials in hope they will provide that information.

Mr. Sessoms, tell UARF what you want it to do, [1] sue the city and your office when you fail at the start to comply with the requirements of FOIA or [2] have UARF address the issues again in an effort to resolve the difficulty and avert a lawsuit and cost to the city?




 
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