November 28, 2007
Washburn fires back

In my previous entry on Governor Perry's email retention policy, I noted that the strategy for dealing with John Washburn, the activist who's giving the Governor a pain in the tuchus by making TPIA requests for his office's emails, is to nickel and dime him to death. Well, Washburn is not taking that lying down.

Now Washburn is responding. With a formal complaint to the Texas Attorney General's office.

Dear Mr. Simpson:
I would like to file a formal complaint with the Attorney General of Texas regarding the excessive charges to copy electronic records to electronic media. The charges amount to $568.00 for one CD-ROM worth of data.
As I articulated below, I believe Texas statues and administrative rules only allow for the charge of two dollars ($2.00) not $568.00 as asserted by the Office of the Governor. Attached are the relevant correspondences. I am also mailing the attached to the Austin address of the Attorney General.
As an aside I must say the "itemization" leaves something to be desired. What services exactly am I getting for $567.00?

Washburn also wrote back to the governor's deputy counsel, disputing some of the charges as well as the governor's office contention that Washburn has not paid for his total of seven TPIA requests. Washburn says this is untrue, because he only got an itemization of costs for one of his seven requests.

And here's that letter he sent (PDF), along with a check for $2 and two self-addressed stamped envelopes to cover the cost of CDs and shipping. Read the letter, and you will understand that this guy is Not. Going. Away. I can't begin to tell you how much fun this has been already, and how much the prospect of this being drawn out makes me smile. Here's more from Elise Hu, the Observer blog, and the Star Telegram, which adds this useful fact:

Jesse Wilkins, a records retention expert at Houston-based Access Sciences, last month headlined an "e-records" conference in Austin designed to help state bureaucrats manage records in the electronic era.

He said that governments everywhere are grappling with how to balance the requirement for transparency with the need to handle ever-larger inboxes and run an efficient office. There are no hard and fast rules, but Wilkins said there's affordable technology that allows governments to manage clutter, index and archive e-mail messages and ensure that important information is retained.

Wilkins said he didn't know the specifics of Perry's records retention policies, but he said a seven-day delete policy was a bit unusual, even in the private sector.

"In my mind, seven days is not reasonable," Wilkins said. "That strikes me as a very short period of time."

Indeed. Your move, Governor.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on November 28, 2007 to Show Business for Ugly People