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Thread: Are copies of ordinances things that fall under an FOIA?

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    Regular Member Bikenut's Avatar
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    A township wants to charge me for copies of their ordinances according to the FOIA...

    Somehow I suspect the FOIA wasn't intended for this sort of thing and the extra expense isn't warranted.

    So I struggled through some of the legalese of the FOIA act itself and my brain hurts and is oozing out of my ears...

    Can anyone help shed some light on this?
    Gun control isn't about the gun at all.... for those who want gun control it is all about their own fragile egos, their own lack of self esteem, their own inner fears, and most importantly... their own desire to dominate others. And an openly carried gun is a slap in the face to all of those things.

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    Last edited by T Vance; 09-18-2010 at 11:33 PM.

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    Bikenut wrote:
    A township wants to charge me for copies of their ordinances according to the FOIA...

    Somehow I suspect the FOIA wasn't intended for this sort of thing and the extra expense isn't warranted.

    So I struggled through some of the legalese of the FOIA act itself and my brain hurts and is oozing out of my ears...

    Can anyone help shed some light on this?
    As a general thing, FOIA laws apply to government records. Ordinances are a little different than records, I should think. Also,FOIA laws are aimed at keeping governmentfrom hiding records. I can't imagine a government hiding ordinances.

    If you have requested copies of something under FOIA, whether an ordinance or the last tax office water cooler repair bill, I imagine the request got the charges applied just as an automatic thing.

    I've founda number oflocal ordinances online when a question came up during forum discussion. Just google "ordinances (your county) (your state)."

    Many county libraries will have copies of current ordinances. If your county has a law library attached to the courthouse, they might have copies.


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    Michigan Moderator DrTodd's Avatar
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    Which township's ordinances do you need?

    Giving up our liberties for safety is the one sure way to let the violent among us win.

    "Though defensive violence will always be a 'sad necessity' in the eyes of men of principle, it would be still more unfortunate if wrongdoers should dominate just men." -Saint Augustine

    Disclaimer – I am not a lawyer! Please do not consider anything you read from me to be legal advice.

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    Regular Member Bikenut's Avatar
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    DrTodd wrote:
    Which township's ordinances do you need?
    I only need ordinances pertaining to firearms from Albee Township county of Saginaw. And I specifically asked for only firearms ordinances... general and pertaining to parks.

    I didn't FOIA those ordinances... I walked in and asked for copies of them because I google fu'ed the bejabbers out of them and couldn't find them. And the reason I couldn't find them is those ordinances are not available online. When I asked if there would be a fee for copies of just the firearms ordinances I was given a sheet that specified the charges applicable under the FOIA....

    My understanding of the FOIA doesn't include getting copies of ordinances that should be available to the public simply by asking for them since they should be public records accessible by the public simply for the asking. I expect to pay a fee for copying....

    Or I don't understand the FOIA correctly?
    Gun control isn't about the gun at all.... for those who want gun control it is all about their own fragile egos, their own lack of self esteem, their own inner fears, and most importantly... their own desire to dominate others. And an openly carried gun is a slap in the face to all of those things.

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    Campaign Veteran Glock9mmOldStyle's Avatar
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    Bikenut wrote:
    A township wants to charge me for copies of their ordinances according to the FOIA...

    Somehow I suspect the FOIA wasn't intended for this sort of thing and the extra expense isn't warranted.

    So I struggled through some of the legalese of the FOIA act itself and my brain hurts and is oozing out of my ears...

    Can anyone help shed some light on this?
    I have vast experience in this matter. Ordinances should not be charged for. You may request to INSPECT them at no charge, this is true of any material you FOIA. The Clerk is required to make a copy available to you. Also most cities place a copy at their public library for inspection by the public. The only charges that are allowed under the FOIA law are: wages of the lowest paid person in the department the information is coming from usually a junior clerk (in Taylor $28hr.) and 25 cents per page. Many cities will not give you electronic copies of the same information because they want to rack up the biggest bill possible to discourage you from getting any information, which sadly works often for them.
    “A government that does not trust it’s law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms is itself unworthy of trust.” James Madison.

    “Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth.” “The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference - they deserve a place of honor with all that's good.” George Washington

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    Regular Member Bikenut's Avatar
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    Glock9mmOldStyle wrote:
    Bikenut wrote:
    A township wants to charge me for copies of their ordinances according to the FOIA...

    Somehow I suspect the FOIA wasn't intended for this sort of thing and the extra expense isn't warranted.

    So I struggled through some of the legalese of the FOIA act itself and my brain hurts and is oozing out of my ears...

    Can anyone help shed some light on this?
    I have vast experience in this matter. Ordinances should not be charged for. You may request to INSPECT them at no charge, this is true of any material you FOIA. The Clerk is required to make a copy available to you. Also most cities place a copy at their public library for inspection by the public. The only charges that are allowed under the FOIA law are: wages of the lowest paid person in the department the information is coming from usually a junior clerk (in Taylor $28hr.) and 25 cents per page. Many cities will not give you electronic copies of the same information because they want to rack up the biggest bill possible to discourage you from getting any information, which sadly works often for them.
    Could you please give me a link to where I can copy the legalese that covers what you just illuminated me on? I think I'll need it to convince the individual I'm working with that he has no other choice... but without the documentation I'm sure there will be... ummmm... controversy.

    I am still unclear... is an FOIA needed just to get copies of ordinances? Never needed one before?
    Gun control isn't about the gun at all.... for those who want gun control it is all about their own fragile egos, their own lack of self esteem, their own inner fears, and most importantly... their own desire to dominate others. And an openly carried gun is a slap in the face to all of those things.

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    Regular Member autosurgeon's Avatar
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    They can charge you a copying fee whatever the Township board has set in their fee schedule.

    This does not fall under FOIA as they should be happy to get you what you want.

    Also they are required to allow you to look at the ordinance book and pick out the ordinances you would like copied.
    Anything I post may be my opinion and not the law... you are responsible to do your own verification.

    Blackstone (1753-1765) maintains that "the law holds that it is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer."

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    Campaign Veteran Glock9mmOldStyle's Avatar
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    This appears to be a little po-dunk township. As others have said they can charge you for copies (max 25 cents per page) this is why you ask if they have a copy placed at a local library. If so you go there ( usually libraries only charge you 10 cents per copy) .

    This is public information (no FOIA needed) if this is their Clerks office giving you a hard time, I can only image what their PD is going to be like.

    PM me their number. I'll call for you if you like, in the morning.
    “A government that does not trust it’s law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms is itself unworthy of trust.” James Madison.

    “Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth.” “The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference - they deserve a place of honor with all that's good.” George Washington

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    Campaign Veteran Glock9mmOldStyle's Avatar
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    http://www.legislature.mi.gov/%28S%2...ct-442-of-1976

    Section 15.234

    Section 15.235 (See 7a & b)

    Section 15.240 (See 6 & 7)

    This should make it clear to Barney Fife that you are in the right here!
    “A government that does not trust it’s law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms is itself unworthy of trust.” James Madison.

    “Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth.” “The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference - they deserve a place of honor with all that's good.” George Washington

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    Campaign Veteran Glock9mmOldStyle's Avatar
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    http://www.city-data.com/township/Albee-Saginaw-MI.html[img]file:///C:/DOCUME%7E1/Monica/LOCALS%7E1/Temp/moz-screenshot-8.png[/img]
    “A government that does not trust it’s law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms is itself unworthy of trust.” James Madison.

    “Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance; they are the peoples' liberty's teeth.” “The very atmosphere of firearms anywhere and everywhere restrains evil interference - they deserve a place of honor with all that's good.” George Washington

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    Regular Member Bikenut's Avatar
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    Glock9mmOldStyle wrote:
    This appears to be a little po-dunk township. As others have said they can charge you for copies (max 25 cents per page) this is why you ask if they have a copy placed at a local library. If so you go there ( usually libraries only charge you 10 cents per copy) .

    This is public information (no FOIA needed) if this is their Clerks office giving you a hard time, I can only image what their PD is going to be like.

    PM me their number. I'll call for you if you like, in the morning.
    Yep, it is a small rural township just about 3 miles from me. And the contention wasn't so much that I would actually be refused access/copies but more of a .... how dare anyone want to carry a gun in our parks around the children!!!!.... coupled with a reluctance to even start looking it up... type thing. Guy I was talking to mentioned folks legally carrying a gun responding to a small child that kicked them in the shins.... sigh!!!!..... but the lady who also was there was very co operative and helpful although it was clear the guy was in charge... anyway... I kept video and audio recording of all of that for my records as usual.

    My question was really if asking for copies of ordinances fell under FOIA with the resulting ability to charge FOIA fees for said copies. This was a new one on me since all my other requests for ordinance copies from other local governments were met with a smile and a 10 minute wait while copies were made. And offers to pay for those copies were also met with a smile and being told that if I had wanted the whole book they would charge me but won't charge for just copying a couple of individual ordinances. And I am willing to pay a reasonable fee for copying charges.... but, to my mind, looking up ordinances (labor charge) isn't reasonable since that sort of thing should be part of the job. But I've been wrong before on stuff so maybe charging for labor to look through a book containing the code of ordinances (that should be available to the public free of charge anyway) is considered reasonable.

    I guess I was just surprised to be handed a printout of FOIA fees for a simple thing like a copies of a couple of ordinances. But if I end up paying many tens of dollars for copies of a couple of ordinances involving a few paragraphs that should cost about 5 bucks (at the most!) for copying........ I will look into what can be done about it.

    There isn't any local library.... and, although I do sincerely appreciate your offer to call them on my behalf, at this early point I'd prefer to just wait and see if what I requested is provided for a reasonable fee. If it isn't provided or the fee is unreasonable then it becomes a different story.... and I'll be going to yet another township council meeting I guess. Might have to anyway if their ordinances are in violation.... since if the reaction from that one guy is any indication of the degree of co operation actually changing an ordinance might prove to involve a little bit of hassle.... which is OK... not a stranger to that either.

    My sincere thanks for your help Glock9mm... and to everyone else who helped answer my question. Without a doubt the folks here are very well informed.... and exceptionally helpful!

    Oh yeah... if anyone happens to be driving North on M13 around lunch time on their way to Saginaw the Albee Township Hall/Community Center and park is on the West side located just a little over a mile North past the Backwoods Grill, which is mostly a bar. It is a very nice park with shaded picnic areas and a walking trail through the woods. And if ya you will be there and mention it here Yooperlady and I will join ya. We can bring extra stuff to make sammiches.


    Gun control isn't about the gun at all.... for those who want gun control it is all about their own fragile egos, their own lack of self esteem, their own inner fears, and most importantly... their own desire to dominate others. And an openly carried gun is a slap in the face to all of those things.

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    Anti-Saldana Freedom Fighter Venator's Avatar
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    Bikenut wrote:
    A township wants to charge me for copies of their ordinances according to the FOIA...

    Somehow I suspect the FOIA wasn't intended for this sort of thing and the extra expense isn't warranted.

    So I struggled through some of the legalese of the FOIA act itself and my brain hurts and is oozing out of my ears...

    Can anyone help shed some light on this?
    There is no charge for you to look at the ordinances and then copy (pay)the section you want. Seems like they are giving you crap. Ordinances have to be made available to citizens.

    Municipalities can charge for actual costs like wages, copy costs, etc. ACTUAL COSTS ONLY, not an inflated charge. Most municipalities wont charge if the copy cost is under $5 or so.
    An Amazon best seller "MY PARENTS OPEN CARRY" http://www.myparentsopencarry.com/

    *The information contained above is not meant to be legal advice, but is solely intended as a starting point for further research. These are my opinions, if you have further questions it is advisable to seek out an attorney that is well versed in firearm law.

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    Regular Member autosurgeon's Avatar
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    Venator wrote:
    Bikenut wrote:
    A township wants to charge me for copies of their ordinances according to the FOIA...

    Somehow I suspect the FOIA wasn't intended for this sort of thing and the extra expense isn't warranted.

    So I struggled through some of the legalese of the FOIA act itself and my brain hurts and is oozing out of my ears...

    Can anyone help shed some light on this?
    There is no charge for you to look at the ordinances and then copy (pay)the section you want. Seems like they are giving you crap. Ordinances have to be made available to citizens.

    Municipalities can charge for actual costs like wages, copy costs, etc. ACTUAL COSTS ONLY, not an inflated charge. Most municipalities wont charge if the copy cost is under $5 or so.
    I agree. In the Town I reside in ... which is a blink your eye burg. We charge .25 per copy and 80.00 for the entire book double sided and prepunched for a binder. We also sell a CD with all of the ordinances for 10.00

    However anyone with a library card can go to the library and pull up the ordinances on our website and print them out for .10 a copy.

    We recommend the website in fact as it saves time and costs less for most people as most have internet at home or access at work or as a last resort the library!
    Anything I post may be my opinion and not the law... you are responsible to do your own verification.

    Blackstone (1753-1765) maintains that "the law holds that it is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer."

  15. #15
    Michigan Moderator DrTodd's Avatar
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    Civil townships can elect to file the ordinances with the county clerk; they may have a copy of the ordinances there. I would just give them a call.
    Giving up our liberties for safety is the one sure way to let the violent among us win.

    "Though defensive violence will always be a 'sad necessity' in the eyes of men of principle, it would be still more unfortunate if wrongdoers should dominate just men." -Saint Augustine

    Disclaimer – I am not a lawyer! Please do not consider anything you read from me to be legal advice.

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