FOIL, Upside Down - 27 East

Letters

Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1672655

FOIL, Upside Down

Weary, bleary-eyed followers of the impeachment have been stymied by an impenetrable wall of withheld documents and black swaths of redaction emitting from CROFUS (the Corrupt Ruler of the Former United States) currently befouling the White House. From the depths of that deep murk, sometimes a Freedom of Information request, flickering like a firefly, appears, and in its light come revelations.

That is as it should be. FOIL declares: “A free society is maintained when government is responsive and responsible to the public and when the public is aware of governmental actions. The more open a government is with its citizenry, the greater the understanding of the participation of the public in government.”

In this light, a FOIL request filed with the Village of Southampton by one “MaryKate Wilson,” out of Mobile, Alabama, should be examined. It illustrates how woefully this law can be abused, and subverted to work against public participation.

“MaryKate Wilson” does not exist: “She” is a service, which for $85 will file your FOIL and hide your name.

From the outrageousness of the information asked for in this one, the intentional vagueness and certain insider tweaks, it is obvious to me that this FOIL traveled from Village Hall to Village Hall via Mobile, Alabama. And its purpose is not for legitimate “information.”

What the anonymous gelding paid $85 for is: six months of “any and all communications, whether by text, email private/direct message on private or village-owned cellphone, social media site, etc., between Mayor Jesse Warren” and a list of six private citizens, only one of whom serves the village on a voluntary basis. This is hacking by legalese.

I made the list. I know two people named, and no one else. This cohort of private citizens is connected by one fact only: Someone is fishing to find out whether any of us have communicated in any form, technologically or otherwise, on any topic in the universe, anytime of the day or night, with the mayor over a six-month span. Ridiculous on its face, but this local Burisma is intended to insinuate a cabal of people as being “for” or “against,” in any of the internecine squabbles paralyzing the village.

The ambiguous inclusion of the charged word “private” is meant to cause consternation, with its overtone of accusation; to chill, to penalize, to caution — to stifle the “public participation” that the law was created to protect. To suggest that you might pay a price to speak your mind.

This turns the law upside down. This intent of this concealed coward is to lob a FOIL to stir up trouble. It asks to hide what needs knowing, and to reveal what should be private.

Frances Genovese

Southampton

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