by Paul Bowers
After initially refusing to release a public document electronically, the S.C. Department of Transportation today sent the City Paper a PDF of the report from a public opinion survey about the proposed extension of Interstate 526 from West Ashley to the James Island Connector.
We just received the report and haven't gotten to read it all yet, but we wanted to go ahead and share it. On Monday, the SCDOT said 72 percent of respondents were in favor of the extension, but the approval ratings varied significantly by ZIP code. On Wadmalaw Island (ZIP code 29487), for instance, the approval rating was only 60 percent. Here's the report:
In an e-mail today, the agency's Freedom of Information Act officer, Janet Tucker, gave the following explanation for why she was originally unable to send the document electronically:
I was initially instructed by [SCDOT project manager] David Kinard not to release the document electronically because he thought you were asking for copies of the actual responses to the survey which contain personal information of the responders. After further discussion, he has advised that the responsive document he has provided can be released electronically.
The City Paper never requested individual survey responses, and it remains unclear how an electronic version of the report would have differed from a printed version.
The SCDOT charged the City Paper $9.50 to e-mail us a public document (more on that here). Tucker provided this additional explanation of the charge today:
My time as the FOIA Officer is not part of the equation when the fee is assessed. It is only charged for those who actually spend time away from their normal duties at SCDOT to gather the requested information. In your instance, the minimum charge of $7.50 plus $.10 per page (20 pages) was assessed.