• Barnhart’s FOIL requests account for 60.8% of the archive, but about 2 percent of all FOIL requests the city received in 2017.

Statement from Rochester for All Director Eric Stevens

On December 28, the City of Rochester publicly launched its online FOIL Archive. Described by Alex Yudelson, Mayor Lovely Warren’s Chief of Staff, as a place “where citizens can view all public documents that have been requested under FOIL process,” the “reading room” application on the city website states that searches are limited to the past year.

As of the end of business Friday, December 29,120 records were accessible through the FOIL Archive application. The city of Rochester received an estimated 4,400 records requests in calendar year 2017. Of those requests, only 2.7% are accessible through the newly-launched FOIL Archive.

A sample of 207 records requests marked as complete by the city’s FOIL Request Status application resulted in 193 fulfilled and 14 denied requests; 93.2% of requests were fulfilled. That means a complete FOIL Archive should contain approximately 4,100 fulfilled records.

In a post to her personal Facebook profile and verified Facebook page, Mayor Lovely Warren stated:

“Today in the City of Rochester, we unveiled some exciting changes to our Freedom of Information Process and website that will take Rochester to the forefront of information sharing and transparency. From now on all of the documents and information we fulfill through Freedom of Information will be freely and publicly available. But as these changes take effect, I also wanted to mention something that will undoubtedly become obvious to anyone who searches through this information. Over the past several months, one of my political opponents has flooded City government with many frivolous information requests.”

Of the 120 records available in the FOIL Archive, 73 are attached to records requests by Rachel Barnhart. Those 73 requests account for 60.8% of the archive, but only 1.7% of all requests received in 2017.

We urge everyone to take a look themselves.

I hope the media can get an explanation from City Hall about why it released the archive last week and claimed it was complete. Where are the other 4,000 requests? Why does the archive make it look like Barnhart filed more than half of the FOILs in 2017? Will the city apologize if it manipulated a public record?

I sincerely hope there’s a logical explanation, because public resources shouldn’t be used to retaliate against a citizen exercising her right to ask for open records.

Rochester for All posted a FAQ about the events of last week, including why we filed FOILs.

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