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Home Page Letter of Complaint
Subject: Charging Admission to See Public Records
To: Office of the Secretary of State-
Supervisor of Public Records
From: Joseph Dougherty
Date: January 7, 1998
Location: Town of Billerica, Massachusetts


                                     52 Mount Pleasant Street
                                     Billerica Massachusetts 01821
                                     January 7, 1998 [Ed. "8" ipo "7"] 

Office of the Secretary of State
Supervisor of Public Records
c/o Michelle Geary
Boston Massachusetts

Dear Ms. Geary:

Attached is a letter from Billerica town accountant Cheryl A. Robertson
and my letter of November 26, 1997.  I believe that the town accountant
is basically proposing to charge admission to see public records and that
this practice is inconsistent with the Massachusetts Public Records law.

The Freedom of Information Act provides a right to taxpayers to access
public records without substantial cost.  The idea that I will need to
pay $34.38 to merely see the records that are less than five years old
is outrageous.  This is in contrast to the  assessors office, across the
hall from the accountantís office, who have records available for free
that are over fifty years old.

According to the town accountantís findings and my unchallenged estimates,
I need access to about eighteen pages of information regarding a known
topic, with  known vendor identifiers and a known dates.  This proposed
charge of $34.38 indicates that something is dreadfully wrong.  These
Perhaps these records are stored randomly.  But I should not have to pay
for poor record keeping, misfiled records, a sloppy filing system or the
lack of using an effective filing system with good written methods and
procedures.  And, if these records are indeed filed in such poor order,
this complaint should be escalated and turned over to the Revenue
Department to investigate the practices of the town accountant.

In summary, I believe that the town accountant cannot charge for mere
access to a small quantity of fairly current public records and be
consistent with the Massachusetts Freedom of Information Act. 

I would appreciate your help in resolving this matter.  Thank you.  

                                     Sincerely,

                                     Joseph Dougherty

cc: State Representative William G. Greene

Home Page Response to Letter of Complaint
Subject: Charging Admission to See Public Records
To: Joseph Dougherty
From: Office of the Secretary of State-
Supervisor of Public Records
Date: April 21, 1998 Response
Location: Town of Billerica, Massachusetts

 

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