On July 11, 2008, Fox News published an article in praise of Sarah Palin:
... they've overlooked the one shining victory in which a Republican star was born.
The triumph came in Alaska where Sarah Palin, a politician of eye-popping integrity, was elected governor.
Her rise is a great (and rare) story of how adherence to principle--especially to transparency and accountability in government.
What the article doesn't say is that Sarah Palin's transparency and accountability come with an eye-popping price tag.
AS 40.25.110 From the Alaska Statutes:
(a) Unless specifically provided otherwise, the public records of all public agencies are open to inspection by the public under reasonable rules during regular office hours. The public officer having the custody of public records shall give on request and payment of the fee established under this section or AS 40.25.115 a certified copy of the public record.
AS 40.25.115 refers to Electronic Services and Products.
(a) Notwithstanding AS 40.25.110 (b) - (d) to the contrary, upon request and payment of a fee established under (b) of this section, a public agency may provide electronic services and products involving public records to members of the public. A public agency is encouraged to make information available in usable electronic formats to the greatest extent feasible. The activities authorized under this section may not take priority over the primary responsibilities of a public agency.
(b) The fee for electronic services and products must be based on recovery of the actual incremental costs of providing the electronic services and products, and a reasonable portion of the costs associated with building and maintaining the information system of the public agency. The fee may be reduced or waived by the public agency if the electronic services and products are to be used for a public purpose, including public agency program support, nonprofit activities, journalism, and academic research. Fee reductions and waivers shall be uniformly applied among persons who are similarly situated.
The cost of searching ONE e-mail account is $925.44!
Linda Kellen Biegel, of Celtic Diva Blue Oasis, requested copies of some e-mails to and from the governor's office, together with other information. Linda was seeking clarification about communications between the governor's office and some members of the media in an effort to find out how they had obtained information they used to ridicule and discredit Republican activist Andree McLeod.
Linda received a quote for the service:
To provide complete responses to the e-mail portions of your request, we will need to electronically search the email accounts of the 71 current and former employees who have worked in the Governor's Executive Offices since December 2006. For that electronic search, we will need the assistance of the State Security Office in the Department of Administration, Division of Enterprise Technology Services (ETS). ETS estimates that each e-mail account retrieval, search, and record production will require 16 hours to complete. The ETS hourly rate is $54.84, so ETS estimates its costs per e-mail account will be $925.44. Based on that estimate, ETS's estimated costs for obtaining records from 71 employee e-mail accounts total $65,706.
Why should a division within a government department be paid TWICE to do their job? The people who work in that division are state employees, the 16 hours quoted are already included in their salaries.
Whenever I requested copies of documents from government agencies or private companies, I was charged the cost of printing and mailing the documents, plus a nominal administrative fee, not for the salaries of their personnel.
The convoluted logic of the governor's office and their creative accounting procedures leave citizens of Alaska without access to public records, unless they're very rich or use the information to write articles or broadcast radio shows that favour the governor...
RECALL Sarah Palin