A $6,751 bill for FEMA records? That seems exorbitant, says ethics commission

Miami Herald by Sarah Blaskey

January 8, 2019

When blogger and gadfly Stephanie Kienzle got an anonymous tip that something sketchy may have happened in the tiny village of El Portal after Hurricane Irma, she requested records from the village to find out if the rumor was true.

The documents would cost $6,751, according to an email back from the village clerk. It’s a price the Miami Dade Commission on Ethics and Public Trust called “exorbitant” and possibly even a violation of a citizen’s right to access government records.

“My first thought was what are they hiding?” said Kienzle, who was astounded by the price tag. “I think it’s something big. And I wish I knew what it was.”

The records Kienzle requested were related to debris removal in El Portal after Hurricane Irma. The village had submitted the documents to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be reimbursed for what it had spent. They included records of each specific tree and branch that was removed, and of each truckload of debris hauled out.

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