Pozzi appointed as township FOIA coordinator

By: Alex Szwarc | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published November 27, 2018

 Clerk Kristi Pozzi was appointed as the township FOIA coordinator at the Nov. 14 Board of Trustees meeting. She will begin serving in that position on Dec. 1.

Clerk Kristi Pozzi was appointed as the township FOIA coordinator at the Nov. 14 Board of Trustees meeting. She will begin serving in that position on Dec. 1.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Effective Saturday, Dec. 1, Macomb Township Clerk Kristi Pozzi will serve as the township Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) coordinator.

At the Nov. 14 board meeting, Treasurer Karen Goodhue made a request to appoint Pozzi as the township FOIA coordinator.

“I was reluctant to vote on the FOIA coordinator at the last meeting, as per the clerks guidelines, no information was available to review to enable me to make an educated decision,” Goodhue said. “I have reviewed our FOIA procedures and guidelines which were adopted by this board in 2015 and now feel comfortable to make that decision.”

Goodhue also made a motion to amend FOIA procedures and guidelines.

“I’d like to revise and amend the Macomb Township FOIA procedures and guidelines to name Clerk Kristi Pozzi as the coordinator,” she said. “The rest of procedures and guidelines are acceptable and therefore should remain the same.”

Pozzi said a FOIA coordinator is responsible for providing the public with information that is kept for records.

“It allows the public to have a contact person,” she said.

That motion carried, and with the adoption of the procedures and guidelines, the $45 FOIA fee associated with email searches was rescinded.

“Majority of FOIA’s can be answered rather quickly and if that’s the case, we’ll gladly give the information with no charge,” Pozzi said. “The $45 fee was proposed by the Supervisor’s Office by the deputy supervisor and approved on September 12.”

During the board’s meeting on Oct. 24, Pozzi informed the board that the legislative body of a township must designate an individual as the public body’s FOIA coordinator.

Meeting minutes from Oct. 24 states, “The current FOIA coordinator, the deputy treasurer, was not designated by the board. This appointment is not in compliance with law.”

“I wasn’t here when the decision was made to remove that responsibility to the Clerk’s Office,” Pozzi said. “I’ve found that 99.9 percent of municipalities across Michigan, the FOIA responsibilities fall under the Clerk’s Office because we are the keeper of records.”

Pozzi relayed information obtained from Catherine Mullhaupt, the attorney who authored the Michigan Township Association FOIA handbook. Mullhaupt informed Pozzi the $45 fee for email records is not legal and may lead to litigation if the township continued to charge the fee.

“The justification for the charge was to offset the cost of the vendor – BPI – that was utilized to do the research was charging us a fee,” Pozzi said. “They initiated the fee to go towards the residents, which you can’t do.”

Pozzi at that point urged the board to take action to bring the township into compliance. A motion was made on Oct. 24 to have the clerk serve as the FOIA Coordinator. The motion failed with a 3-3 vote.

“My opinion is that it was just politics,” Pozzi said when asked why she believes the motion failed in October.

At the Nov. 14 meeting, township resident Jim Julius said, “This should’ve been a no-brainer for a unanimous vote. The question is, ‘Why the opposition’? The Clerk’s Office has a very capable staff that is experienced in processing FOIA requests. No one else in this building is more qualified to handle this important function.”

Pozzi said there are six employees in the clerk’s office, including herself, who can handle FOIA requests.

The Macomb Township public summary of FOIA procedures and guidelines addresses information such as how a FOIA request can be sent to the township and what kind of response someone may expect to a request. Between 150 and 200 FOIA requests are processed a year.

To view the summary of FOIA procedures and guidelines, go to macomb-mi.gov and under the "Forms & Applications" tab, click on "Supervisor’s Office."