Kim Davis -- yes, THAT Kim Davis -- is proving to be as willfully obtuse in her other duties as a Kentucky county clerk as she has been in refusing to recognize the Supreme Court's decision on same-sex marriage. Her brief stint in the local jail for contempt charges hasn't dampened her indomitable spirit, much to the chagrin of her critics, fellow employees (except her son, who works in her office as a deputy clerk) and anyone still attempting to make their way past her refusal to separate church and state.
Shawn Musgrave has requested all of Kim Davis's emails (sent or received) from August 1st through September 16th. It would appear Davis's current status as a pariah/hero (mileage varies greatly) has resulted in an outpouring of support/hate. According to her estimate, there are 6,000 emails responsive to Musgrave's request. So, of course, she has decided to handle her office's response in the least efficient way possible.
I have received your request and need to confirm, I can furnish you with all that you have requested. There are well over 6000 or so emails received/sent during the time period you have ask for. With that being said, there will be considerable time and paper consumed in the processing of your request. I am estimating approximately 40 hours of labor at $12.50 per hour to retrieve and print all emails, along with a copy fee of $.10 per copy and the open records $3.00 fee plus postage for mail (estimated $100.00) for the request. This would make the approximate amount due $1,203.00. Once that amount is received, ($1,203.00 will be considered a deposit until all the records have been processed, if it is less, I will refund you the difference, and if more is due, I will contact you with the additional amount due prior to releasing said records), your request can begin to be processed.
Rowan County Clerk
Yes, as you probably would have guessed even without seeing it in [print] pixels, Kim Davis is one of THOSE people. The kind of person who still thinks email is a passing fad/tool of the devil and views trips to the post office as social events. And if she isn't one of THOSE people, she's one of those OTHER people -- the kind of public servant who thinks the government's job is to be as much of a standoffish dick as possible to the "little people" who pay their salaries. (Think every DMV you've ever set foot in...)
Davis's response was probably meant to dissuade Musgrave from pursuing this further. She picked the wrong FOIA warrior to tangle with.
Musgrave's immediate followup was to ask why in the name of all that is considered holy by certain people/not-so-holy by others would someone print out
6,000 emails and hand them off to the next Pony Express rider?
Is it possible to avoid copying time and fees by sending electronic copies of the emails?
Davis's tone then shifts from deliberately unhelpful to "I'm
in charge here" dismissiveness.
I have responded to and conveyed what all was needed to be able to process your request. I do not have the means to transfer electronic and the email dated 9-16-2015 is still my response. Once you have sent the fees as I had indicated in the email dated 9-16-2015, your request will be processed as timely as possible.
I think what Davis is trying to say is she doesn't have the "technical capability" needed to "transfer electronic." And I'm going to assume she's above asking for help. If not, then she's just trying to make Musgrave pay for inconveniencing her with an open records request.
Musgrave asks for clarification on the inability to "transfer electronic" and receives nothing more than Davis impatiently tapping her finger on the printout of her original response to his request.
Musgrave then tries to get some assistance on appealing her decision to ramp up fees by felling a forest. Davis basically tells him he's screwed.
Dear Mr. Musgrave,
Your consideration regarding my response contrary to the spirit and letter of the KRS in estimating cost to your KORA request is not substantiated. The Attorney General Opinion from 2012 states 'the agency may, but is not required to, provide the requested format. The agency may then recover staff costs as well as any actual costs it incurs.'
I was trying to be fair in this request, while I do retain the right, through the Kentucky Open Records Law, to refuse your request all together, as it is an 'overly burdensome request'. Again, I will refer to the email dated 09-16-2015 for the cost of this request and upon receipt, your request will be processed in as timely manner as possible.
Nah. There's nothing "fair" about her response. It's now clear she's taken this open records request up as Yet Another Personal Crusade in which Davis abuses her elected position to withhold for as long as legally possible something the law requires her to hand over.
Musgrave then tells Davis he will be filing a complaint with the District Attorney over the excessive fees, as is provided for in Kentucky's open records laws. No dice.
I have tried to be obliging to you and your request, however, if you feel I have not, you may do as you have stated in your email.
With that being said, if you feel reviewing and printing or transmitting well over 6000 emails is not a burdensome task, I am sorry. I have said many times prior and will say again in this email, I will be happy to complete your request, for the fees as discussed in the email dated 09-16-2015…
Musgrave says, "Let me help you lower the cost."
Ms. Davis -
That is a substantial number of emails, admittedly. I am attempting to lower your manhour requirement (as well as the cost) by requesting that emails be sent in electronic format, rather than printed. As printing comprises approximately half of your fee estimate, eliminating the print requirement would cut down the cost considerably.)
And with that, Davis is done discussing this with Musgrave. After two more attempts to have the unresolved issue (the unnecessary printing of electronic mail) cleared up -- and receiving no response from Kim Davis -- Musgrave utilizes a communication Davis might be more familiar with.
Ms. Davis -
As you've stopped replying to emails regarding my two open requests — both of which you initially acknowledged by email — I am reaching out by fax.
Apparently Davis still answers faxes. But her answer is the same obstinate recital of her first estimate and a brief reminder that nothing will be returned to him until payment is made. A little more back-and-forth confirms Davis believes she's entirely in the right and that Musgrave's threatened appeal will go nowhere.
Because it appears nothing will move forward without payment and/or the District Attorney weighing in on the massive tree cull Davis has planned, Musgrave is crowdfunding the release of these emails
over at MuckRock. The final total appears to be nearly $1,400. For 6000 emails that could easily fit on a single $10 USB stick/$1 blank DVD.
What makes Davis' response even worse is that when the emails finally arrive in paper format, Musgrave will have to spend his own time converting them back to electronic format. It's yet another case where government employees begrudgingly follow
the letter of the law while steamrolling right over