In The News
September 19, 2018 - Boyne area high school sports
September 19, 2018 - Waterpaw wins Aquascape Conservationist Award
September 19, 2018 - LETTERS – Devastation at Camp Sea-Gull?
September 19, 2018 - Celebrate the life of Boyne City’s Roni Fish
September 19, 2018 - Boyne City Commission meeting highlights
September 19, 2018 - Study says Medicaid expansion boosted financial health of low-income Michiganders
September 18, 2018 - #473 Boyne City Gazette Sept. 19
September 17, 2018 - Boyne police investigating church graffiti
September 17, 2018 - Gov. Snyder says foreign investment key to Michigan success
September 17, 2018 - Healthy Michigan waiver hoped to protect local healthcare
September 16, 2018 - U.S. Senate passes bill to update Great Lakes Environmental Sensitivity Index Maps
September 16, 2018 - Michigan Supreme Court October oral arguments
September 13, 2018 - Grant supports mental health tech in Michigan
September 12, 2018 - Michigan’s new way to explore 545,000 career openings
September 12, 2018 - Steps to safeguard your property during Boyne City sewer cleaning project
September 12, 2018 - UPDATE: Boyne water main still under repair
September 12, 2018 - Boyne woman part of ArtPrize; day trip planned to Grand Rapids
September 12, 2018 - Boyne City goals, parking, statue discussed
September 12, 2018 - Michigan’s new anti-fraud unit in Dept. of Insurance and Financial Services
September 12, 2018 - Cole lauds Boyne on being named Great American Main Street semifinalist

The principle of the thing

CHRIS FAULKNOR, PUBLISHER

This story doesn’t begin with goblins and gore, but with praise.

I praise our local municipalities, because anytime I ask for information, I get it without question.

When I call Cherie down at the Charlevoix County Clerk’s Office, Cindy over at the City of Boyne City, or Deb over at the Sheriff’s Office, my requests are responded to in a timely manner, and barring a good (and legal) reason, I get the documents I’m looking for.

But I found myself in the position of needing information from the Wexford County Sheriff’s Department, and I found out what happens when governments don’t work this way.

I sent a request for a police report on February 10th by e-mail to Vickie Boersma, their Office Supervisor.

She responded by mailing me a statement of charges for $7.50, but no documents.

Being the conversational guy that I am, I picked up the phone and called her, asking her where my documents were.

She told me that no documents would be provided until I paid for them in advance.

Now, that might make sense on the surface, but it also has the added perk of being illegal.

I let her know this simple fact, and she disagreed, telling me that I am welcome to appeal.

So, the question you’re probably thinking at this point is, “When are they allowed to charge, and how much?”

Well, they’re allowed to charge the actual cost of copying and finding the documents and mailing them.

Give the fifty cents it costs to mail, I fail to see how one single police report would cost $7.00 at ten cents per page (police reports usually aren’t 70 pages long, after all).

Unless, of course, it took an hour to type the incident report number that I provided into their computer and click “print.”

But that’s all beside the point, because that’s not the issue here.

They’re also allowed to charge a good faith deposit of half the total cost if the cost exceeds $50.

But last time I checked, $7.50 didn’t exceed $50, and even so, $7.50 isn’t half of $7.50, is it?

I’m disappointed, because rather than approach them as a newspaper, I approached them as a member of the public, hoping upon hope that I would receive the same courtesy I’m so accustomed to from our municipalities up here, and I was asked to pay a charge that I shouldn’t have been asked to pay.

I’m just as disappointed, because when I called Ms. Boersma and informed her that this was illegal, even going so far as to cite the specific parts of the law, she didn’t respond as she should have.

She didn’t take the two minutes to bring up MCL 15.234 on her computer and clearly see what this meant, she simply said “no.”

This is exactly what we as citizens don’t deserve from our government.

And it makes me that much more thankful for the government officials I work with up here for the conscientious way in which they do their jobs.

So why, you may ask, am I putting up this fight for $7.50?

Is it really worth it?

Yes, it is, because if a unit of government is willing to skirt the law in this instance and deny one citizen their rights, how many other violations are they making?

How many people are being forced to jump through hoops to get the information that they’re entitled to by law?

I’m standing up not just for myself, but for everyone, because some day, you might need a document or information, and it is my hope that it will get easier as this continues.

 

Related Articles