DC General Counsel Affirms Order to DMPED to Release Hine Documents in Response to FOIA
by Larry Janezich
The Office of the General Counsel to the Mayor (OGC) has refused a request from the Deputy Mayor for Economic and Planning (DMPED) to reconsider the order to release documents related to the Hine development requested under FOIA. The decision lets the order issued to DMPED on November 14, 2013, stand. (For the story on the initial order, see: http://bit.ly/1j1Mtmz)
The FOIA request was filed by attorney Oliver Hall, counsel to the Hine Coalition, a group of Capitol Hill residents who have appealed the Zoning Commission’s approval of the Hine project to the DC Court of Appeals.
After DMPED failed to respond to the FOIA, Hall filed an appeal directly to the Mayor’s office protesting DMPED’s denial of his request for documents related to the Hine project. In its most recent decision – delivered in a December 31, 2013 email from Deputy General Counsel Donald S. Kaufman to DMPED’s Ayesha Abbasi – the OGC acknowledged that it had previously expressed willingness to entertain reconsideration, but it had directed DMPED to “detail the specific reason why a particular record is exempt from disclosure.” In this most recent email, Kaufman wrote that DMPED did not “set forth particular records as to which would be exempt under the exemption.”
Initially, DMPED offered the Office of General Counsel some 378 emails which had been withheld from disclosure. OGC reviewed all of the emails and found the vast majority of them did not contain proprietary information that would result in substantial harm to the developer. OGC did make four exceptions to the order to disclose documents: emails containing bank wiring instructions, legal arguments analyzing alternative legal structures for the condominium portion of the Hine project, insurance policy numbers, and emails to other DC government agencies.
A copy of the email from the OGC can be found in the Library on CHC.