Sunday, June 25, 2017

Alaska Ag......The Appeal


Tiani Heider
7479 W Born Lazy
Wasilla, Alaska  99623


State of Alaska
Division of Agriculture
Central Office
Director Arthur Keyes
1800 Glenn Highway, Suite 12
Palmer, Alaska  99645

Subject: Administrative Appeal
  2 AAC 96.340. Appeal from denial: manner of making

Director Keyes-

Per the statute referenced above, I am appealing the Freedom of Information Act denial I received on June 20th, 2017, regarding DAG 17-028 Public Records Request.

The denial was authored by
Lora Haralson
Administrative Officer I
Division of Agriculture
Central Office
1800 Glenn Highway, Suite 12
Palmer, Alaska 99645

The records requested were originally described as “copies of USDA pen cards, or similar”. During a follow up communication, a further description was provided to the Division.

It has since come to my attention, that the Division does, indeed, have both hard copies, and computer files for these documents. MMM&S called them “check in” cards, and the Plant Manager (among others) filled them out as animals arrived at MMM&S. One copy went to the producer, one to the USDA, and one to the Division of Agriculture. In addition, this information was entered into a computer on a daily basis during normal operations.


These records are federally mandated to be retained, under FSIS and HAACP regulations. For the HAACP that the Division has on file, records are required under 9 CFR 417.5 - Records.  (and others, for HAACP)  as well as FSIS 9 CFR 310.2 (a) and related regulations. All of these regulations specifying required compliance for record keeping can be found online at the related agency, or in the Federal Register..

I remain confident that the Division does, in fact, have these documents in their possession.  Since the data I requested did not include any specific personal producer information whatsoever, I am certain that my FOIA request was wrongfully denied.


CC: Andrew T. Mack, Commissioner, DNR
        Ed Fogels, Deputy Commissioner, DNR


suvalley said...

So, the letter(s) were put in the mail this morning.

Certified, of course.

According to their own regulations, they have ten working days from receipt to respond.

If there are no results, I will continue using the remedies at my disposal until they are exhausted.

Anonymous said...

Stay after them T.J! They know you have the missing link to there down fall and are very scared! Believe me you are not a liked person here at the DOA right now. There's a lot of paper shuffling going on. End of quote!

suvalley said...

That would be a curious response.

Lora's original denial (DAG 17-027) contains the words "no documents are responsive to your request".

Which any reasonable person would understand to mean: We don't have those copies of "USDA pen cards, or similar".

My second request, with a better description of the information requested, was denied thus: "I have confirmed that the Division of Agriculture does not retain the USDA inspection sheets that you have requested" (Which is not an accurate description of the information I was seeking with both FOIAs)

My appeal, of course, supplies the information necessary to locate and produce the information if they choose to be responsive.

I want to be very clear here. I do not blame Lora H for doing her job as instructed.

To my direct knowledge, it has been about a year since a FOIA was fulfilled on the first attempt. If they "hate" having to perform the public service they are hired to do, perhaps they should find other work. This is their *job*.

Whatever their personal feelings about the author of the request, has no relevance in this situation.

I live here, I am a resident, they work for ME.

Anonymous said...

This is getting interesting, Mrs. Blog writer what are you looking for? and what "Missing" link do you have? You must share. Blog follower

suvalley said...

^^^^ As I stated in my previous blog entry, I am looking for basic numbers of ante mortem inspections at MMM&S. This is simple data, background information that I had actually expected to be at the DOAs fingertips. It is information that a reporter, researcher, a student, or a person who is checking into livestock production would need to base a solid financial decision on, write a report or paper for school, gather to accurately report to the public, etc.

I did not ask for, nor want, any "personal identifiers" such as names and addresses of producers.

The DOA has already denied a FOIA on those grounds, calling them "trade secrets". Ahem. Yes, that's a stretch by anyone's measurement, but backed up by the full force of the State's attorneys.

Not sure what the "missing link" referenced is, myself, but the records do exist, whether the DOA states "no documents are responsive to your request" or not. They *have* to exist, or they have operated in a state of noncompliance with federal food safety requirements for who knows how long.

Do they really want to go there? Surely not!

But I do expect the appeal to be denied.