From the June 2001 Idaho Observer:
Use of public disclosure laws could dissuade agency participation in anti-citizen activity
The manner in which Bonner county has handled the McGuckin case has prompted people from all over the world to feel overwhelming compassion for this embattled family. Conversely, while money and prayers for the McGuckin family pour into north Idaho from all over the globe, letters condemning Bonner county's actions in this matter are also pouring in. Sociologist James R. Brown, Ph.D, applied his powerful research skills to developing a mechanism for public action that is designed to bring legal and lawful public pressure to bear on agencies being called in to help rescue Bonner county from its most recent public relations nightmare.
9-338. PUBLIC RECORDS -- RIGHT TO EXAMINE. (1) Every person has a right to examine and take a copy of any public record of this state and there is a presumption that all public records in Idaho are open at all reasonable times for inspection except as otherwise expressly provided by statute.
(2) The right to copy public records shall include the right to make photographs or photographic or other copies while the records are in the possession of the custodian of the records using equipment provided by the public agency or independent public body corporate and politic or using equipment designated by the custodian.
(4) The custodian shall make no inquiry of any person who applies for a public record, except to verify the identity of a person requesting a record in accordance with section 9-342, Idaho Code, to ensure that the requested record or information will not be used for purposes of a mailing or telephone list prohibited by section 9-348, Idaho Code, or as otherwise provided by law. The person may be required to make a written request and provide their name, a mailing address and telephone number. [The custodian shall make no inquiry of any person who applies for a public record, except that the person may be required to make a written request and provide a mailing address and telephone number, and except as required for purposes of protecting personal information from disclosure under chapter 2, title 49, Idaho Code, and federal law.]
(5) The custodian shall not review, examine or scrutinize any copy, photograph or memoranda in the possession of any such person and shall extend to the person all reasonable comfort and facility for the full exercise of the right granted under this act.
67-2340. FORMATION OF PUBLIC POLICY AT OPEN MEETINGS. The people of the state of Idaho in creating the instruments of government that serve them, do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies so created. Therefore, the legislature finds and declares that it is the policy of this state that the formation of public policy is public business and shall not be conducted in secret.
What I propose is this course of action. Everyone who wants to protest what is being done to the McGuckin family should write a freedom of act request FOR EVERY DOCUMENT RELATED TO JOANN MCGUCKIN, THE MCGUCKIN CHILDREN AND THEIR RESIDENCE to every member of government identified in your list previously circulated with complete mailing addresses (the FOIA requests must be in writing) for each official or agency and adding to the list the agencies and individuals who were involved in the inspection of the home. For example if several THOUSAND FOIA requests for all records pertaining to JoAnn McGuckin or the McGuckin residence descended on the Idaho Hazmat (Hazardous materials) out of Coeur d'Alene and the Boise Fire Marshalls Office (which Idaho Code requires be responded to within three business days), it would not be long, once word got out, that Prosecutor Robinson would be unable to find any government employee in the State of Idaho who would touch the McGuckin case with a ten foot pole. In addition, all the offices inundated with requests, including the Prosecutor's, would have to divert staff and resources to responding to the requests as set forth in Idaho Code. None of the Offices would even be allowed to ask anyone requesting information on the McGuckin case why they were doing it.
IF A RESPONSE TO THE REQUEST WAS NOT MADE IN THE THREE DAYS SET FORTH IN THE CODE, EACH INDIVIDUAL WOULD BE LEGALLY ENTITLED TO INQUIRE ABOUT THE RESPONSE - IN PERSON AT THE RELEVANT OFFICE.
IF 500 PEOPLE FILED REQUESTS WITH THE PROSECUTORS OFFICE AND RECEIVED NO RESPONSE IN THE TIME ALLOWED, THEY COULD ALL SHOW UP AT HIS OFFICE DURING REGULAR OFFICE HOURS AND INDIVIDUALLY INQUIRE ABOUT THEIR REQUEST.
FOR A MODEL FOIA LETTER CONTACT THE IO. SEND YOUR FOIA REQUESTS TO THE FOLLOWING PUBLIC SERVANTS:
Bonner County authorities:
County Prosecutor Phil Robinson: (208) 263 6714
Bonner County Sheriff:
Phil Jarvis, Sheriff Bonner County, Idaho (208) 263-8417
Bonner County Commissioners:
Jerry Clemens, Brian Orr, Tom Suttemeir
Bonner County Assessor Jim Boatright
Please consider including the following agencies in your FOIA requests:
Search and Rescue, Bonner County Sheriff's Department 208-263-8417
Idaho Hazmat, Div. of Environmental Quality, Coeur d'Alene 208-769-1422
State Fire Marshal (Coeur d'Alene) 208- 769-1447
State Plumbing and Electrical Inspector (Coeur d'Alene) 208-769-1579
Idaho Governor Dirk Kempthorne
or Fax 208-334-2175
There is no reason to stand idly by feeling that there is nothing you can do to help the McGuckin family. The information above outlines a legal and lawful plan to let the public servants know that there are concerned citizens out there who want their government to behave in a publicly responsible and compassionate manner.
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