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Author Topic: Just won my FOIA lawsuit against the NPS!  (Read 16569 times)

Indrid Cold

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Re: Just won my FOIA lawsuit against the NPS!
« Reply #15 on: October 27, 2011, 10:58:44 AM »
Sadly, I think you're probably right. Generally speaking, we're very fortunate in the US to have so much free GIS data available - people in other countries have expressed envy in fact. But those servers and staff cost money, and at some point the various agencies are bound to take a closer look at their budgets.
Even Google has just stopped it's unlimited free mapping for api users: LINK

Seldom

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Re: Just won my FOIA lawsuit against the NPS!
« Reply #16 on: October 27, 2011, 12:42:03 PM »
Sadly, I think you're probably right. Generally speaking, we're very fortunate in the US to have so much free GIS data available - people in other countries have expressed envy in fact. But those servers and staff cost money, and at some point the various agencies are bound to take a closer look at their budgets.
Even Google has just stopped it's unlimited free mapping for api users: LINK
Maybe showing my ignorance here, but is the Google limit really about data?  Seems to me it's more about access to their servers, which they have maintenance costs on.

Boyd

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Re: Just won my FOIA lawsuit against the NPS!
« Reply #17 on: October 27, 2011, 12:46:53 PM »
I read the part of the FAQ where they said it would keep the service more responsive for smaller sites. I'm sure that's part of it, but I'll bet they're also thinking they just can't afford to give away so much free stuff, and the big users can afford to pay for it. I often think that Google is like a drug dealer offering free samples long enough to get you hooked.  ;)

jbensman

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Re: Just won my FOIA lawsuit against the NPS!
« Reply #18 on: October 28, 2011, 08:48:37 AM »
Sadly, I think you're probably right. Generally speaking, we're very fortunate in the US to have so much free GIS data available - people in other countries have expressed envy in fact. But those servers and staff cost money, and at some point the various agencies are bound to take a closer look at their budgets.
Even Google has just stopped it's unlimited free mapping for api users: LINK

Google is a corporation.  There is a huge differnece in a business's data and government data our taxes paid to create.

Indrid Cold

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Re: Just won my FOIA lawsuit against the NPS!
« Reply #19 on: October 28, 2011, 12:01:16 PM »
Google is a corporation.  There is a huge differnece in a business's data and government data our taxes paid to create.
That may be, Google probably isn't in debt to the Chinese and others or reached it debt ceiling and faced at least two shutdowns this year like the Federal Government has.

We have also seen the following from California, and it isn't too much of a stretch to project this to other states or the Federal level:
http://forums.gpsfiledepot.com/index.php/topic,2119.msg12451.html#msg12451

It might take some policy changes, but everything changes eventually, even trail paths.

Indrid Cold

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Re: Just won my FOIA lawsuit against the NPS!
« Reply #20 on: October 28, 2011, 01:37:14 PM »
It might take some policy changes, but everything changes eventually, even trail paths.
And look a little closer, it may not even take a policy change, just enforcement.
An exception to the FOIA, as listed in Title 5 of the United States Code, section 552:
Quote
(9) geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells.

Source


jbensman

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Re: Just won my FOIA lawsuit against the NPS!
« Reply #21 on: October 28, 2011, 01:42:25 PM »
The cost is in creating the GIS data and our tax dollars paided for that.  They can charge the cost of reproduction if its over a certian amount.  But GIS data can be emailed, posted on the web, or sent on a disc.  So there is not going to be cost of reproduciton.  The NPS's failure to spend less than an hour to give me what I asked for, is going to end up costing 10 of thousands of dollars.

jbensman

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Re: Just won my FOIA lawsuit against the NPS!
« Reply #22 on: October 28, 2011, 01:53:33 PM »
It might take some policy changes, but everything changes eventually, even trail paths.
And look a little closer, it may not even take a policy change, just enforcement.
An exception to the FOIA, as listed in Title 5 of the United States Code, section 552:
Quote
(9) geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells.

Source

Excemption 9 deals with stuff like info on oil wells.  Its got nothing to do with GIS-courts have ruled GIS data must be disclosed.  Here is what the Department of Justuce FOIA Handbook explains:

EXEMPTION 9

Exemption 9 of the FOIA covers "geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells."  While this exemption is very rarely invoked or interpreted, one court has held that it applies only to "well information of a technical or scientific nature."  Only two other decisions have mentioned Exemption 9; however, neither case discussed its scope or application.

Indrid Cold

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Re: Just won my FOIA lawsuit against the NPS!
« Reply #23 on: October 28, 2011, 02:30:31 PM »
Excemption 9 deals with stuff like info on oil wells.  Its got nothing to do with GIS-courts have ruled GIS data must be disclosed.
Looks like you may have a point on that it applies to wells.

My concern is how will the Government have the ability to disclose anything if the dollar crashes and the US goes bankrupt? A simple look back at the history of the world shows many example of societies crashing and failing after becoming to big for their britches. Seeing the US spends much more than it takes in as taxes, well it looks a lot like a collage student with a credit card.

jbensman

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Re: Just won my FOIA lawsuit against the NPS!
« Reply #24 on: October 28, 2011, 02:35:44 PM »
I'd say you are straying too far from what this disucussion is about.

JKINNNY

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Re: Just won my FOIA lawsuit against the NPS!
« Reply #25 on: December 03, 2011, 01:09:26 PM »
If a US government agency is giving you the run around, contact your congressional representative, or senator. Be polite, spell it out (be specific) what you're trying to obtain, and what agency/person(s) are stone walling you. Keep records. Names, dates, times of phone calls, emails, or snail mail. Provide copies if practical. The more ammo you have to leverage your case, the better.  It might seem trivial, but they are an elected representative and should be able to help. You more than likely will be contacted by one of their staff, but sometimes that's all it takes is a phone call by a staff member to the agency in question to get the ball rolling and a satisfactory answer on your behalf.

jbensman

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Re: Just won my FOIA lawsuit against the NPS!
« Reply #26 on: December 03, 2011, 02:30:45 PM »
I would agree sometimes that would help.  But in some case, such as this, suing is the only thing that will work.  Even after the suit was filed and the Department of Justice attorneys got involved (and if they were confident attorneys they would have known the NPS basis for refusing to give me the files for free was frivilious) instead of telling the NPS they need to cut thier loses and settle by agreeing to give me the files, they doubled down.  So my attorrney had to brief the case and fly to DC for a hearing.  The NPS's basis to charge me was so frivilious they could not even come up with any argument against one of the many reasons why they cannot charge me.  At the hearing, the DOJ and NPS attornies admitted to the judge they had no defense against one of the reasons why they could not change me.  When you win a FOIA lawsuit and the agency had no reasonable basis for thier decision, they have to pay your attorney.  The NPS agreed to pay my attorney $37,000 in attorney fees and expenses!  Hopefully that will teach them a lesson and in the future they will respect the law.  We will see.  I filed a petition for rulemaking asking the NPS to change thier regulaitons to comply with the Court's ruling and the 2007 Amendments to FOIA.  We will see if they have leard thier lesson and agree to change the regulaitons or if they will pay my attorney again to sue them to force the NPS to change thier regulations to comply with Federal law.  When you consider all the government attoreny time and all the NPS employee time, I bet over $100,000 was spent to try to avoid spending 15 minutes to give me some files so I could help citizens better enjoy thier National Parks!  I think there should be some people fired over this.

EagleBoy

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Re: Just won my FOIA lawsuit against the NPS!
« Reply #27 on: December 03, 2011, 04:08:13 PM »
You rock!  And your lawyer deserved every penny.  He should have gone for fees at client-solicitor rates.  Sounds like they gave party-party rates.  I consult to governments all the time and abso-frigging-lutely astounds me what "civil" servants try to get away with.

Again - AWESOME JOB!!!  Makes my day.  :)  Thanks for all your (and your attorney) hard work.

 

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