FRAMINGHAM – The City of Framingham is dragging its feet in a request to release Mayor Yvonne Spicer’s travel expenses.
On Wednesday, August 1, Framingham Source made a request for the Mayor’s travel expenses in Fiscal Year 2018, which ended on June 30, as well as some travel expenses during the month of July.
Under the federal and state Freedom of Information Act, the City had 10 business days maximum to comply with the request and release the data, deny the request with a reason, or request an extension of time.
On August 3, the City’s Public Record Officer responded to Source writing “the Mayor’s staff is gathering this information for me. Foreseeably, I should be able to get you this information much more expeditiously then the regular timeline of a public records request, but I just want to let you know that I acknowledge receipt of your request.”
The 10-day deadline was on August 15.
As of 5 p.m. today, August 21, the information has not been provided to the media outlet, and no additional emails on the request have been answered by the City.
Media outlets requesting travel expenses for politicians and public officials is nothing new. Journalists have requested travel expenses from President Donald Trump to Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker, and for thousands of elected leaders this year across America.
Anyone can request public records and no statement of purpose is required.
The Massachusetts Public Records Act places no restrictions on the use of records.
The Commonwealth’s law allows 10 days for record responses. The 10 days is to allow time to gather the information, it is not supposed to allow a government to use it as a delay tactic.
The state’s Public Records Law requires the City to provide a written response (email does count) to the public (which includes the media) within 10 business days.
If the City of Framingham cannot comply with the request, it is statutorily required to provide an explanation in writing.
Source emailed the City of Framingham on Friday and again today, August 21, and no written response has been given for the delay.
This is what Source requested on August 1:
- List of any conferences or out-of-state events Mayor Yvonne Spicer attended that the City of Framingham paid for in 2017.
- List of expenses related to 2017 conference or-out-of-state travel, including airfare, hotel, meals, ubers, taxis, etc. that was paid for by the City of Framingham
- List of any conferences or out-of-state events the Mayor attended that the City of Framingham paid for in 2018 through June 30
- List of expenses related to 2018 conference or-out-of-state travel, including airfare, hotel, meals, ubers, taxis, etc. that was paid for by the City of Framingham through June 30.
- List of any conferences or out-of-state events the Mayor attended that the City of Framingham paid for in 2018 between July 1 and July 15
- List of expenses related to 2018 conference or-out-of-state travel, including airfare, hotel, meals, ubers, taxis, etc. that was paid for by the City of Framingham between July 1 and July 15.
If a municipality fails to respond within 10 business days, the public may file an appeal, so long as the appeal is filed 90 calendar days of the request.
Framingham Source plans to file an appeal with the City of Framingham as well as the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office for the records requested.