Updates on cases, laws, and other topics of interest to local governments

Subscribe by Email

Enter your Email:
Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Subscribe in a Reader

Follow Municipal Minute on Twitter


Blog comments do not reflect the views or opinions of the Author or Ancel Glink. Some of the content may be considered attorney advertising material under the applicable rules of certain states. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. Please read our full disclaimer

Monday, January 29, 2018

PAC Rejects Village's Use of "Deliberative Process" FOIA Exemption

The Public Access Counselor (PAC) issued its first binding opinion of 2018 finding a public body in violation of FOIA in PAC Op. 18-001.

A reporter had filed a request with a village for an unredacted copy of the resignation letter that had been submitted by the former village president. The village provided the letter to the reporter but had redacted one portion, citing 7(1)(f) of FOIA. The reporter filed a complaint with the PAC claiming that village violated FOIA by redacting the requested record. The village responded that the information was redacted because it was exempt under 7(1)(n) and 7(1)(f) of FOIA. The village supported its denial by stating that the redacted information related to a public body's adjudication of employee grievances and that information within the letter expressed opinions that are not final.

The PAC reviewed the unredacted record and determined that the village violated FOIA in redacting a portion of the resignation letter. The PAC rejected the village's argument that the redacted information was subject to the "deliberative process" exemption of 7(1)(f), finding that although the information may have been the former village president's opinion regarding his decision to resign, that opinion was not expressed as part of a "deliberative or decision-making process." The PAC then noted that the communication represented his "final decision" to resign, so it could not be part of a predecisional, deliberative process. It also was not part of the "give and take" of a decisional process. 

The PAC also rejected the village's argument that the redacted information was exempt under 7(1)(n) because it related to the adjudication of an employee grievance or disciplinary case because the village had not identified any ongoing or contemplated grievance, complaint, or disciplinary action that was or would be adjudicated. 

In sum, the PAC found the village in violation of FOIA and ordered the village to release an unredacted copy of the resignation letter to the reporter.

The PAC opinion provides some insight into how the PAC interprets the "deliberative process" exemption contained in 7(1)(f) of FOIA.

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


Post a Comment