The Maine Sunday Telegram and its attorney have spent six months, written more than 40 emails and filed two formal complaints to the public records ombudsperson at the Attorney General’s Office trying to secure the Maine Warden Service’s full compliance with a routine request for its communications with Engel Entertainment, the producers of the popular Animal Planet series “North Woods Law.” The newspaper sought the correspondence to resolve accusations that wardens might have been playing for the cameras when they organized a major raid on the tiny town of Allagash. It took more than seven weeks just to get the state to provide an official estimate as to when the documents would be available.

Trying to obtain these emails, which are public documents, has proved to be a task worthy of a Kafka novel – both unnecessarily frustrating and darkly comic.

Here are our communications with the wardens, their own legal counsel at the Attorney General’s Office and the public records ombudsperson, starting with the filing of our initial request on November 2, 2015.

(Note: Emails from the Maine Sunday Telegram are in black; emails from the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife are blue; emails from the Attorney General’s Office are red)


From: Colin Woodard, Press Herald reporter

Sent: Monday, November 02, 2015 4:20 PM

To: Christl Theriault, public records officer for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

Subject: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Dear Ms. Theriault –

Please see our attached FOAA request dated today.

If you have any questions or are need of clarification, please feel free to contact me.

Thanking you in advance for your assistance and

Best Regards,


From: Christl Theriault, public records officer for the Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
Sent: Monday, November 02, 2015 4:30 PM

To: Denise MooreBrann, Warden Service administrator

Cc: Joel Wilkinson, Chief Warden; Theriault, Shon, Second ranking warden, the Captain

Subject: FW: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Denise,

Here is another FOAA related to information on Engel Entertainment.  Could you please provide the formal response?

Thank you,


From: Denise MooreBrann, Warden Service administrator

Sent: Tuesday, November 03, 2015 9:38 AM

To: Colin S Woodard

Cc: Col. Wilkinson, Capt. Theriault, and other Inland Fish and Wildlife officials.

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Mr. Woodard

Please see attached acknowledgement letter, for your FOAA request.

Thank you


From: Colin Woodard

Sent: Tuesday, November 10, 2015 11:47 AM

To: MooreBrann, Denise

Cc: Col. Wilkinson, Capt. Theriault, and other Inland Fish and Wildlife officials.

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Dear Ms. MooreBrann –

I am writing to inquire about the status of our public records request of 2 November 2015. When will the agency be providing a good faith estimate of the time and cost to complete our request?

Regards,


From: MooreBrann, Denise

Sent: Tuesday, November 10, 2015 12:04 PM

To: ‘Colin S Woodard’

Cc: Col. Wilkinson, Capt. Theriault, and other Inland Fish and Wildlife officials.

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Mr. Woodard

We estimate is will take approximately 3 hours to go through the emails, then redacting and copying 2-3 hours for a total of 6 hours. Plus the cost of copying at .10 a page.


From: Colin S Woodard

Sent: Monday, November 16, 2015 11:45 AM

To: MooreBrann, Denise

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Hi Denise –

Just checking again if you had an estimate of when the records will be available for review.

Many thanks,


From: MooreBrann, Denise

Sent: Monday, November 16, 2015 11:48 AM

To: Colin S Woodard

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

I do not at this time, Corporal MacDonald [the warden service’s official liaison with Engel Entertainment] should be sending me the emails this week. So most likely some time next week.


From: Colin S Woodard

Sent: Monday, November 23, 2015 3:55 PM

To: MooreBrann, Denise

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Hi Denise –

Just checking in to see if you still expect the documents responsive to this FOAA will be ready later this week.

Many thanks and

Best Regards,


From: MooreBrann, Denise

Sent: Monday, November 23, 2015 3:59 PM

To: Colin S Woodard

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Colin,

I have not received the emails from John [MacDonald] yet. I will get in touch with him.


From: MooreBrann, Denise

Sent: Tuesday, December 8, 2015 7:43 AM

To: Colin S Woodard

Cc: Col. Wilkinson; Capt. Theriault; others.

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Mr. Woodard attached is the good faith estimate [that it will take 6 hours and cost $75 to complete the entire request.]


From: Colin S Woodard

Sent: Tuesday, December 08, 2015 1:15 PM

To: MooreBrann, Denise

Cc: Col. Wilkinson; Capt. Theriault; Sig Schutz, Press Herald’s media attorney; others

Subject: Re: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Ms. Brann –

Thanks for this. Please advise when the responsive documents are available.


From: Colin S Woodard

Sent: Monday, December 14, 2015 3:07 PM

To: MooreBrann, Denise

Cc: Col. Wilkinson, Lt. Theriault, and others

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Dear Ms. Brann –

I am writing again in regards to the FOAA request of 2 November, having not heard from your office for a week’s time. Could you please advise when the responsive documents will become available, as the reasonable time period for fulfillment of this relatively modest request would appear to have elapsed.

[No response is received; Press Herald asks its media attorney, Sigmund Schutz of PretiFlaherty, to intervene.]


From: Jean Charron, assistant to Press Herald media attorney Sig Schutz of PretiFlaherty

Sent: Wednesday, December 16, 2015 4:52 PM

To: MooreBrann, Denise; Theriault, Christl F.

Cc: Sig Schutz, Press Herald’s media attorney

Subject: FOAA Request by Colin Woodard on November 2, 2015

Ms. Theriault and Ms. Brann,

Please find attached Attorney Schutz letter to you with enclosures. [Letter outlines situation so far; asks why documents have not been produced.]

The originals have been placed in the U.S. Mail.

Thank you,


From: MooreBrann, Denise

Sent: Tuesday, December 22, 2015 10:21 AM

To: Charron, Jean A.; Theriault, Christl F.

Cc: Schutz, Sigmund D.; Colin Woodard

Subject: RE: FOAA Request by Colin Woodard on November 2, 2015

Ms. Charron

Due to current workload and the FOAA requests ahead of Mr. Woodard’s, we are estimating that this request will not be ready to be released until the end of January, 2016.


From: Charron, Jean A.

Sent: Wednesday, December 23, 2015 4:19 PM

To: ‘[email protected]’; Christl Theriault

Cc: Schutz, Sigmund D.

Subject: Public Records Request – Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram

Ms. Theriault and Ms. Brann,

Please find attached Attorney Schutz letter to you dated December 23, 2015 [Contains a separate Press Herald public records request asking for a list of requests ahead of the paper; documents later released show no backlog.]

The original has been placed in the U.S. Mail.

Thank you,

Jean


From: Denise MooreBrann

Sent: Dec 28, 2015, at 7:07 AM

To: Colin Woodard

Mr. Woodard

The invoice for your FOAA request [for $60] is attached.


From: Colin S Woodard

Sent: Monday, December 28, 2015 8:32 AM

To: MooreBrann, Denise

Cc: Col. Wilkinson, Lt. Theriault, Sig Schutz, and others

Subject: Re: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Dear Ms. Brann –

Thank you. Is this a request for payment in advance, or are the responsive documents now available?


From: MooreBrann, Denise

Sent: Monday, December 28, 2015 12:15 PM

To: Colin S Woodard

Cc: Col. Wilkinson, Capt. Theriault, Sig Schutz, and others

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Mr. Woodard

The documents are ready to be scanned and emailed to you, I just need the payment to proceed.


From: Colin S Woodard

Sent: Tuesday, January 05, 2016 12:22 PM

To: MooreBrann, Denise

Cc: Col. Wilkinson, Capt. Theriault, Sig Schutz, and others

Subject: Re: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Dear Ms. Brann –

Just a note that I have not yet received the responsive documents. I understand payment was ordered on Dec. 26, so should have arrived at your end. (Also, state offices do not normally require advance payment from our company to process the documents, having found us creditworthy enough to bill.)

Please advise the status of this, as the five-day response window for our follow up FOAA is now upon us as well.


From: MooreBrann, Denise

Sent: Tuesday, January 05, 2016 12:27 PM

To: Colin S Woodard

Cc: Col. Wilkinson, Capt. Theriault, Sig Schutz, and others

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Mr. Woodard

We have not received payment as of today. It is IF&W’s policy to receive payment before documents are sent.


From: Schutz, Sigmund D.

Sent: Tuesday, January 05, 2016 7:47 PM

To: MooreBrann, Denise; Colin S Woodard

Cc: Col. Wilkinson, Capt. Theriault, Sig Schutz, and others

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Under Maine law, it is unlawful for IF&W to require payment in advance to fulfill a public records request if the cost is $100 or less and the person making the request is current on fees charged to respond to prior records requests.  In a section of the FOAA with the heading “Payment in advance” the statute provides that agencies and officials “may require a requester to pay all or a portion of the estimated costs to complete the request prior to the search, retrieval, compiling, conversion and copying of the public record if: (A) the estimated total cost exceeds $100; or (B) The requester has previously failed to pay a properly assessed fee under this chapter in a timely manner.”

See: http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/statutes/1/title1sec408-A.html

I respectfully request that IF&W review its policy.  Thank you.


From: MooreBrann, Denise

Sent: Wednesday, January 06, 2016 8:23 AM

To: Schutz, Sigmund D.; Colin S Woodard

Cc: Col. Wilkinson, Capt. Theriault, Sig Schutz, and others

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Mr. Woodard

Attached is the information you requested, we are still awaiting payment.

 [Attached are 29 emails between Cpl. MacDonald and Engel Entertainment, with redactions. But nearly a year’s worth of emails are missing.]


From: Colin S Woodard

Sent: Wednesday, January 6, 2016 3:14 PM

To: MooreBrann, Denise; Schutz, Sigmund D.

Cc: Col. Wilkinson, Capt. Theriault, and others

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Dear Ms. Brann –

Thank you for the attached documents.

These are a subset of those responsive to our request. Viz:

  1. There is a nearly one year gap in the correspondence you have provided here, from 25 October 2013 through 14 September 2014, a time when Engel was actively engaged in filming in Aroostook County (for (North Woods Law Season 3). Indeed, in the screen shots you have already provided in connection with the Maine Today Media/Kennebec Journal FOAA request of November 2014, there are numerous emails that would reference Aroostook County locations that have not been included in your response. See, for example, Devon Platte, 4 February 2014, 6:56 PM (“Wed, 12P Ashland HQ”); Ibid, 2 December 2013, “North Woods Law filming schedule”); all emails referencing episodes 205-214. Also, later in 2014 and in early 2015 there would have been NWL3 story list and review correspondence connected with story lines taking place in the County. Work plans and schedules for Aroostook County based officers were shared with Engel in 2014 (as per their email of 14 September 2014.) There should also be correspondence in 2014 in regards to the filming crews’ expected schedules and locations for NWL3. Please forward these and any other missing materials.
  1. The attachments for the emails you have sent have not been included in the response and should be. Please forward these.
  1. You have redacted the names and email addresses of some of the correspondents in these emails. In particular: on what legal grounds did you redact the name of the Aroostook County sheriff’s department official who expressed displeasure at the NWL crews’ presence in his email of 3 October 2014? Also, why is the name and address of the DIVAS Brand Ambassador who contacted you in 2015 redacted? If you do not have a legal theory on which to base these redactions, please forward the unredacted versions immediately.

Thanking you for your attention;


From: Colin S Woodard

Sent: Tuesday, January 12, 2016 11:00 AM

To: MooreBrann, Denise

Cc: Col. Wilkinson, Capt. Theriault, Sig Schutz, and others

Subject: Re: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Dear Ms Brann –

A week has passed and we have not received a response to these inquiries. If we don’t hear from you by the end of the day, we will assume one is not forthcoming and refer this matter to the FOAA ombudsperson at the Attorney General’s office.

Thanking you for your attention.


From: Shon Theriault, Game Warden Captain (#2 in command)

Sent: Tuesday, January 12, 2016 12:46 PM

To: Colin S Woodard

Cc: Col. Wilkinson, Capt. Theriault, Denise Moore Brann, and others

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Dear Mr. Wooderd,

My apologies, I have been out of the office.

I am writing for clarification on the recent response to Denise Brann about records provided.   Please be advised that email is not filed under “The County” or Aroostook and a search for the word “County” or Aroostook produced limited results.   John MacDonald did his best search for responsive documents pertained to NWL filming in Aroostook in an effort to drastically reduce time and cost.  Screenshots were created to reduce costs and allow the processing of selected emails. FOAA is for records that exist and does not require the creation of records (like taking a screenshot)

Clarification is needed to proceed with this request.   Searching all IFW employees email for all Warden Service staff names and Aroostook County locations which include 2 cities, 55 towns, 11 plantations, and 110 unorganized townships appears to be what this request is looking for. Please be advised that each word would have to be searched individually on each .pst file used by each employee and this would have to be accomplished by employees at the Office of Information Technology.  The Office of Information Technology can assist with producing a cost and time estimate to search since they are the only State entity that have the ability to conduct such a thorough search.  The estimate would include time to travel to and search all 300+ IFW employees’ mail statewide.   Based on experience, the cost could be high.  John MacDonald assisted the request by attempting to capture responsive records for the “County” even though that type of search open to the interpretation. The intent of creating records like screenshots was so Mike Shepard could select what emails were wanted.

Specific emails were not in the request but they are referenced in the response.  We will process those.   It has taken time to determine what attachments were missing, if any, and John was able to locate one.  That will also be provided.

Please keep in mind that FOAA work is completed on staff spare time.  Under Title 1 Chapter 13 subchapter 1 section 408-A.5, requests will not inconvenience the regular activities of the agency.

Also, please note that emails and the names of complainants, witness, and suspects are confidential under title 16 chapter 9 subsection 804.  The redactions referenced in the response were inadvertently redacted. The unreacted copies will we forwarded as soon as possible.


From: Colin S Woodard

Sent: Tuesday, January 12, 2016 1:36 PM

To: Shon Theriault

Cc: Col. Wilkinson, Capt. Theriault, Denise Moore Brann, and others

Subject: Re: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Dear Capt. Theriault –

Thank you for your note and the helpful clarifications. I also appreciate you tackling the attachments and inadvertent redaction issues.

There seems to be some confusion about this FOAA request.

First, you are confusing two separate, though related, FOAA requests. The Kennebec Journal (a sister paper) made a request in late 2014, for which the screen shots were drawn up; I followed up to obtain missing screen shots that your agency had agreed to create in order to narrow their request. This correspondence is in connection with my 2 November 2015 request; the screen shots are only referenced because they are in our possession and indicate additional items responsive to the current request.

In regards to this current FOAA request. If you read the request letter, we are not asking for all your agency’s emails that refer to locations in Aroostook County, only correspondence with “Engel Entertainment, its agents and subsidiaries in regards to potential or actual filming and/or production in Aroostook County…. between 1 January 2012 and 1 August 2015.”

I do not expect his would be an onerous task, particularly if carried out by the people assigned to communicate with Engel. Filming in the County didn’t begin until the second season, and I would imagine your agency would have mediated communications with them, with a small number of personnel authorized to do so. If they simply call up all emails to and from their Engel contacts, I imagine that with their prior knowledge of the conversations they would be able to locate the relevant information. Surely places where filming took place – and your staff knows better than I where all those were — would be among the obvious follow-up keyword searches (and I would expect to include

Ashland, Allagash, Eagle Lake, Fort Kent, and Houlton.)

Thanking you for your attention;


From: Theriault, Shon

Sent: Tuesday, January 12, 2016 1:52 PM

To: Colin S Woodard

Cc: Col. Wilkinson, Capt. Theriault, Denise Moore Brann, and others

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Mr.  Wooderd,

I am confident that the NWL project manager, Corporal John MacDonald, met the intent outlined in the last paragraph even though the FOAA is specific to requests for records and does not require the agency to extrapolate, conclude, or infer what is being requested.  Corporal MacDonald searched for “county” and “Aroostook” and it didn’t produce many results.  He was then directed to read every email and reasonably make a decision if it applied and the results were sent to you.

Denise,

Can you process the attachment and unredacted records referenced in the response as soon as possible.

Thank you,


From: Colin S Woodard

Sent: Tuesday, January 12, 2016 3:59 PM

To: Capt. Theriault

Cc: Col. Wilkinson, Denise Moore Brann, and others

Subject: Re: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Dear Capt. Theriault –

Our intent in our FOAA request is very clear: the communications between Engel and yourselves between the dates in question related to filming in Aroostook County. There is no need for you to “extrapolate, conclude or infer what is being requested.”

With a one year gap in your correspondence that comprises the main period in which NWL was being filmed in the county, I don’t share your confidence in all the responsive documents having been shared with us to date.

If the primary difficulty on your end is in separating the Aroostook-related emails from the rest of Engel’s traffic — itself only a couple of hundred emails in the dates in question, judging from the screen shots from the KJ’s request — I suggest you forward all of the emails in the one year gap and we will sort them out on our end. This will relieve your staff of this task.

That gap is from 25 October 2013 through 14 September 2014. Judging by the screen shots you sent the KJ, this comprises a few dozen emails, so quite manageable for all concerned.


From: Capt. Theriault

Sent: Tuesday, January 12, 2016 4:19 PM

To: Colin S Woodard

Cc: Col. Wilkinson, Denise Moore Brann, and others

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Sounds good.  We will treat this as a new request and prepare a time and cost estimate.  Please be advised that portions of your request will contain confidential information and require redaction or withholding.


From: Colin S Woodard

Sent: Tuesday, January 12, 2016 4:23 PM

To: Capt. Theriault

Cc: Col. Wilkinson, Denise Moore Brann, and others

Subject: Re: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Our existing request still stands and you are legally obligated to fulfill it.  I’m just trying to make things easier on you.

CW


From: Capt. Theriault

Sent: Wednesday, January 13, 2016 11:50 AM

To: Colin S Woodard

Cc: Col. Wilkinson, Denise Moore Brann, Cpl. MacDonald and others

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Mr. Woodard, (my apologies for the prior misspelling)

Please be advised that Corporal John MacDonald, the NWL project manager, will be unavailable until next week to produce an estimate for the additional workload needed to process the expanded scope of this request.  Also, the first free hour had been utilized and, unfortunately, there will be fee and commitment to pay in order to proceed.  We understand the legal requirements of FOAA and produce records on a regular basis as time permits.  We understand that the records belong to the public and we are merely the custodians with the duty to ensure that confidential information managed appropriately in compliance with the law.

Please confirm that the new scope for this request is for all email communication between Engel Entertainment and Corporal John MacDonald between 10/25/13 through 09/14/14?

Once we fully understand the scope of the request we will produce an cost and time estimate as soon as possible.

Kind regards,


From: Colin S Woodard

Sent: Wednesday, January 13, 2016 1:47 PM

To: Capt. Theriault

Cc: Col. Wilkinson, Denise Moore Brann, Cpl. MacDonald and others

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Dear Capt. Theriault –

There has been no change to the scope of our request. Please forward the missing documents responsive to this request without further delay.

To review for the record: you assert in your message of 12 January that you have essentially fulfilled this request, despite a year-long gap in the results that encompasses precisely the period when the bulk of the responsive documents would have been produced. Further, in our message of 6 January we have even cited specific emails from this period we know to exist that are clearly responsive to this request that you have not produced.

By way of explanation for your failure to provide these documents, you have suggested that it is somehow impossibly difficult to identify those communications with Engel that were related to Aroostook County. We find this difficult to believe, as according to your agency (in the screen shots provided to the KJ) the universe of Engel-related emails you must sort these from amounts to a couple of hundred messages. I myself, not having participated in the conversations as your personnel have, would be able to skim and identify such responsive documents in a couple of hours. With the benefit of having actually been a party to the conversations, I would think this could be accomplished in a fraction of that time.

As you have continued to assert that this task is beyond your means, we have suggested a time-saving remedy: forward all the Engel emails – they’re all public records, after all — and we’ll sort out the Aroostook county ones. You have attempted to construe this as a fresh public records request, in what frankly appears to be part of a sustained and unlawful effort to avoid turning over the missing documents.

Our FOAA request of 2 November 2015 remains unfulfilled. You have the means to rectify this situation, including by taking up our offer to “outsource” to us the allegedly overwhelming task of identifying the documents related to Aroostook County. Please do so without further delay.

Sincerely,

[Through attorney Schutz, the Press Herald lodges a formal complaint with Assistant Attorney General Brenda Kielty, the public records ombudswoman at the Attorney General’s Office.]


From: Charron, Jean A.

Sent: Wednesday, January 20, 2016 4:55 PM

To: Assistant Attorney General Brenda Kielty, the state public records ombudsperson

Cc: Schutz, Sigmund D.; Colin S Woodard; Steve Greenlee, Press Herald/Sunday Telegram managing editor; Col. Wilkinson, Capt. Theriault and others.

Subject: Public Records Complaint Pursuant to 5 M.R.S. § 200-I(2)

Ms. Kielty,

Please find attached Attorney Schutz letter to you in this matter.

Thank you,

[Before Kielty acknowledges receipt of the complaint, her colleague – the Warden Service’s legal counsel, Assistant Attorney General Mark Randlett – writes to her on their behalf.] 


From: Assistant Attorney General Mark Randlett, the Warden Service’s lawyer

Sent: Thursday, January 21, 2016 4:08 PM

To: Kielty, Brenda

Cc: Capt. Theriault, Sig Schutz, and others

Subject: IFW records request

Brenda,

Capt. Shon Theriault from the IFW Warden Service forwarded to me a copy of a letter from Attorney Sigmund Schutz to you dated January, 2015, regarding a FOAA request made to IFW from a reporter for the Portland Press Herald.  I have not previously been involved in this matter, but it came to my attention earlier this week when Capt. Theriault contacted me and Brian MacMaster for assistance.  Brian and I spoke to Capt. Theriault yesterday and, during that discussion, I offered to contact the PPH reporter and Attorney Schutz on IFW’s behalf to try to help facilitate IFW’s response.

To be clear, IFW intends to make a good faith and reasonable effort to fully satisfy the FOAA request.  However, compiling and preparing the responsive documents for public disclosure does not appear to be as easy and straightforward as Attorney Schutz’s letter suggests.  To provide “all correspondence between Warden Service personnel and Engel Entertainment, its agents and subsidiaries, in regards to potential or actual filming and/or production in Aroostook County” between 1/12 and 8/15 requires that IFW conduct a search of emails and paper files of all Warden Service employees who may have engaged in any correspondence with Engel Entertainment regarding any matter relating to the filming of the program “North Woods Law” anywhere in the County.  Unfortunately, IFW’s records are not organized in such a way that a search using the word Aroostook will provide meaningful results.  IFW made an effort using the search term Aroostook but, although some records were provided to the PPH, IFW did not capture all of the responsive documents.  IFW has since concluded that a search would need to be done on a much broader scale, especially if OIT is needed to search archival data.  That would include searching under all of the cities, towns, plantations and unorganized territories in Aroostook County for each relevant employee.  Once the responsive records have been compiled, IFW will then need to carefully review them because of the likely existence of confidential information, including criminal history record information and intelligence and investigative record information.  Further, because of the existence of such confidential information, IFW cannot lawfully just turn its records over to the PPH without such prior review and redaction.  IFW will, therefore, need to revise its good faith estimate of the cost and the time needed to provide the requested documents.  I intended to explain these problems in my letter to Attorney Schutz and the PPH.  I will also ask them to offer specific search terms, if possible, to better define the request in order to provide for a more timely and cost effective search that captures the documents that are the most useful to the PPH.

I have not had a chance to follow up on this yet, but plan on sending a letter within the next week.

Please let me know if you have any questions or need further information.


From: Schutz, Sigmund D.

Sent: Monday, January 25, 2016 1:51 PM

To: Asst AG Mark Radlett

Subject: FW: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Mark:

It would be a giant leap forward if we could quickly resolve the first two issues raised by Mr. Woodard on January 6 at 3:14 PM, specifically:

  1. There is a nearly one year gap in the correspondence you have provided here, from 25 October 2013 through 14 September 2014, a time when Engel was actively engaged in filming in Aroostook County (for NWL3). Indeed, in the screen shots you have already provided in connection with the Maine Today Media/Kennebec Journal FOAA request of November 2014, there are numerous emails that would reference Aroostook County locations that have not been included in your response. See, for example, Devon Platte, 4 February 2014, 6:56 PM (“Wed, 12P Ashland HQ”); Ibid, 2 December 2013, “North Woods Law filming schedule”); all emails referencing episodes 205-214. Also, later in 2014 and in early 2015 there would have been NWL3 story list and review correspondence connected with story lines taking place in the County. Work plans and schedules for Aroostook County based officers were shared with Engel in 2014 (as per their email of 14 September 2014.) There should also be correspondence in 2014 in regards to the filming crews’ expected schedules and locations for NWL3. Please forward these and any other missing materials.
  1. The attachments for the emails you have sent have not been included in the response and should be. Please forward these.

Thank you,

– Sig


From: Colin S Woodard

Sent: Wednesday, January 27, 2016 12:19 PM

To: Cpl. John MacDonald, Warden Service’s spokesman and liaison to Engel Entertainment

Cc: Mark Radlett, Sig Schutz, Capt. Theriault

Subject: FOAA request of 2 November 2015 – Two immediate items

Cpl. MacDonald –

In his recent correspondence on your behalf, Assistant AG Randlett has said that you intend to comply with public records law.

There are many items missing from our request, even when one confines the search to your e-mails, as you have chosen to do thus far. However, as a gesture of your intent to comply, please forward today from your e-mail the following messages we have specifically asked for on multiple occasions, which are clearly responsive to our request:

From Devon Platte, 4 February 2014, 6:56 PM (Subject: “Wed, 12P Ashland HQ”);

Ibid, 2 December 2013, “North Woods Law filming schedule”

Thank you for your cooperation and

All Best,


From: Schutz, Sigmund D.

Sent: Wednesday, January 27, 2016 3:10 PM

To: Brenda Kielty

Subject: FW: FOAA request of 2 November 2015 – Two immediate items

Brenda:

I am sharing a note Mr. Woodard sent to the Warden’s Service today.  Anything you can do to expedite this or create a greater sense of urgency on the part of the Warden’s Service would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,


From: Randlett, Mark

Sent: Thursday, January 28, 2016 2:55 PM

To: Schutz, Sigmund D.

Cc: Capt. Theriault

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Sig,

Here are the  February 4, 2014 (“Wed, 12P Ashland HQ”) and the December 2, 2013 (“North Woods Law filming schedule”) e-mails you referenced below.  These were inadvertently omitted from the department’s production of documents pursuant to Mr. Woodard’s FOAA request.  E-mails referencing episodes 205-214 were understandably not identified by the department as being pertinent to the FOAA request as they would not be searchable using the term Aroostook and they did not readily appear to fall within the scope of the request on their face.  The department will review those e-mails to determine whether they are responsive.

It is my understanding that the department identified one attachment that was also inadvertently omitted from its production.  That attachment was sent by e-mail to Mr. Woodard on January 15th.

Mark.


From: Schutz, Sigmund D.

Sent: Tuesday, February 02, 2016 8:05 PM

To: ‘Kielty, Brenda’

Subject: Complaint to FOAA Ombudsman dated January 20, 2016 — Update

Brenda:

The PPH received two e-mails additional e-mails from the Warden’s Service on January 28.  I then followed up with AAG Randlett to suggest that the next logical step would be for the Warden’s Service provide a copy of all of Cpl. MacDonald’s emails related to Aroostook County, which was featured in both season three and season four of North Woods Law, including e-mail within the scope of the request within the one year gap.  Do you have any information on the any further response from the Warden’s Service to the one year gap, additional Cpl. MacDonald e-mail generally and, apparently, other e-mail communications by others at the Warden’s Service with Engel Entertainment about Aroostook County within the scope of the public records request issued by the PPH?

My own FOAA request of December 23, 2015, on behalf of the PPH, is still outstanding.  I have yet to receive an estimated fee or deadline for response.

Also, the Warden’s Service declined an interview with the PPH.  I have concerns with that but that is not directly a FOAA issue.  I mention it because the PPH did submit written questions including this one related to FOAA:

Your agency has failed to comply with public records law in connection with your communications with Engel Entertainment. Why?

Response: The statements contained in #13 are an opinion based on a complaint filed on your behalf by Attorney Schutz with the Attorney General’s Office’s FOAA Ombudsman on January 20, 2016. We have conferred with the FOAA Ombudsman, who has indicated that there were no violations on our part regarding your FOAA complaint. In any event, we are working with our Assistant Attorney General to address any remaining issues regarding the FOAA requests you have submitted.

I was surprised to see this since various issues raised in my letter to you are still outstanding, as mentioned above, and I have not heard from you since last Wednesday.  Is the statement by the Warden’s Service of your position accurate and, if so, what is your reasoning?  What are the next steps on this from your perspective?

Thank you,

– Sig


From: Kielty, Brenda

Sent: Wednesday, February 03, 2016 5:24 PM

To: Schutz, Sigmund D.

Cc: AAG Randlett, Capt. Theriault

Subject: Schutz/IF&W FOAA Complaint

Attorney Schutz,

A letter addressing the issues raised in your FOAA complaint is attached. [Kielty recommends to the Warden Service that it revisit its search criteria and cost estimates.]

Please let me know if you have any questions.


From: Schutz, Sigmund D.

Sent: Friday, February 05, 2016 3:23 PM

To: AAG Randlett

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Mark:

A few points in response to your e-mail:

  1. I see no need for boolean type search terms here since we are not dealing with such a huge volume of records that we have to use search terms to cull through them. We are dealing here with a relatively small number of records over a defined period of time to or from people at Engel Entertainment. Isn’t the easiest and most thorough approach what I thought the Warden’s Service had already told us they did which is to have the people communicating with Engel look at their correspondence and identify records related to actual or potential filming in Aroostook County?  The Warden’s Service, not me, knows exactly where Engel filmed and when.  Its employees know whether a communication related to locations in Aroostook County or not.
  1. Over 3 weeks ago, Mr. Woodard sent an e-mail (January 12, 2016) to Shon Theriault, proposing a few search terms (Ashland, Allagash, Eagle Lake, Fort Kent, and Houlton). He explained, “Filming in the County didn’t begin until the second season, and I would imagine your agency would have mediated communications with them, with a small number of personnel authorized to do so. If they simply call up all emails to and from their Engel contacts, I imagine that with their prior knowledge of the conversations they would be able to locate the relevant information. Surely places where filming took place – and your staff knows better than I where all those were — would be among the obvious follow-up keyword searches(and I would expect to include Ashland, Allagash, Eagle Lake, Fort Kent, and Houlton.)” I remind you of this since this seems to be what you are asking me for.
  1. It would move this forward if the Warden’s Service would take ownership of finding the documents requested. It is not up to the PPH or me to tell the Warden’s Service how to find records. The Warden’s Service is an investigative law enforcement agency.  Is it claiming that it cannot find these records without the help of a newspaper and its lawyer?  If the Warden’s Service were investigating a suspect and looking for communications about illegal bear hunting would they be satisfied running a search in the target’s e-mail for “illegal” and “bear?”  I hope not.
  1. It would also help move this forward if you could describe specifically what the Warden’s Service did to “search[ ]Cpl. MacDonald’s emails.” Please let me know specifically what has been done. If that is searching for “Aroostook” and “County” then the effort was calculated to fail, which is not a controversial conclusion since you agree that a search using the word Aroostook will not “provide meaningful results.”  I agree with you.
  1. There may still be confusion about screen shots of e-mail. The screenshots have nothing to do with Mr. Woodard’s request.  The Warden’s Service provided those screenshots in response to a different public records request in the past.  Mr. Woodard got ahold of the screenshots and it’s a good thing he did since they revealed that the Warden’s Service had not made available for inspection/copying records responsive to his request.

The Warden’s Service could take the following steps:

  1. Identify the people at Engel with whom the Warden’s Service communicated; B. Identify the people at the Warden’ Service who communicated with Engel; C.  Determine when Engel started to communicate about actual or potential filming in Aroostook County (the Warden’s Service knows this).  That will narrow the date range.
  2. Have someone at the Warden’s service look at each e-mail to or from Engel within the date range to see if the subject relates to actual or potential filming in Aroostook County. The Warden’s Service knows exactly where Engel filmed and when.  That knowledge should help whoever is doing the review.
  3. I estimate that about 500 e-mails could be reviewed in a day and that there are fewer than 500 e-mails total that would need to be reviewed once steps (A) through (C) are followed.
  4. Provide electronic copies of the e-mail within the scope of the FOAA request to Mr. Woodard.

– Sig


From: Randlett, Mark

Sent: Tuesday, February 09, 2016 12:54 PM

To: Schutz, Sigmund D.

Cc: Capt. Theriault

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Sig, thanks for your e-mail.  Going forward I propose that the Warden Service identify the personnel who work in Aroostook County who have been involved with Engel Entertainment/North Woods Law.  Those persons would check their records for responsive documents using the names of any persons from Engel Entertainment/North Woods Law with whom they deal. The Warden Service will prepare an estimate of the time and cost for responding to the FOAA request in this fashion and will provide that estimate to you/Mr. Woodard as soon as it is available.  Of course, any documents identified will need to be reviewed by the Warden Service to redact out any confidential information.

Is this approach acceptable to you?

Mark.


From: Schutz, Sigmund D.

Sent: Thursday, February 11, 2016 8:52 AM

To: AAG Randlett

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Mark:

I agree with this approach with a minor amendment.

We request that the Warden Service please as a first priority locate and make available for inspection/copying all of Cpl. MacDonald’s emails that are responsive to this request.  Please recall the concern raised about the gap between

25 October 2013 through 14 September 2014.  Our impression is that the vast majority of responsive e-mails would be to/from Cpl. MacDonald.

Thank you,


From: “Randlett, Mark”

Date: February 18, 2016 at 2:08:33 PM EST

To: “Schutz, Sigmund D.”

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Sig, the Warden Service will have Cpl. MacDonald review the e-mails in his Engel Entertainment and North Woods Law folders again, and responsive e-mails that are found that have not already been provided will be produced after redaction as needed.  The Warden Service is moving forward to complete estimates for the time and cost required to search for, compile and redact the records and will provide that to you as soon as its available.

Mark.


From: Randlett, Mark

Sent: Tuesday, February 23, 2016 4:24 PM

To: Schutz, Sigmund D.

Cc: Capt. Theriault; MooreBrann, Denise

Subject: FW: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Sig, following up on my last e-mail below, attached is the Warden Services’ good faith estimate of the time and cost required to search for, compile and redact records responsive to this FOAA request.  The Warden Service is requesting payment of 1/2 of the total estimated cost in advance in accordance with 1 MRS section 408-A (10)(A). [Attachment estimates fulfilling the request will take 46 additional man-hours, for which the Press Herald will be charged another $690, and take as long as two additional months to deliver.]

Mark.


From: Schutz, Sigmund D.

Sent: Thursday, February 25, 2016 4:07 PM

To: Brenda Kielty

Cc: AAG Randlett

Subject: FW: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Ms. Kielty:

I’m writing in follow-up to my January 20, 2016 letter requesting your assistance in obtaining public records from IF&W (specifically, the Warden’s Service) in response to a public records request by Colin Woodard dated November 3, 2015.  As you’ll recall, we asked for help because of a one year gap in the records offered in response to the request and because attachments to e-mail were not provided.  This issue has not been resolved, very few additional documents have been released, and Mr. Woodard’s request remains pending.

In my letter, I also explained that the PPH questioned whether the search for responsive documents by IF&W was reasonably diligent and complete and requested confirmation on that score.  We had good reason to question the completeness of the response because of information obtained by another reporter at a different newspaper (Michael Sheppard at the Kennebec Journal) as a result of a previous and separate public records request.  As a result of his prior request we learned that Engel (the producers for the North Woods Law TV show) and the Warden Service agreed to have a single point of contact for most correspondence: Cpl. MacDonald. Other wardens and employees may also have had contact with Engel, but presumably the volume of documents involved would be much smaller than MacDonald’s.  We also received what the Warden Service purported to be screen shots of lists of all the emails MacDonald sent or received from Engel, which had been provided to Mr. Sheppard.  The total number of emails shown on those screen shots is about a couple hundred.  As we have pointed out, fulfilling Mr. Woodard’s request for only those e-mails related to Aroostook county filming should take, at most, an hour or two.  The Warden’s Service own estimate was somewhat higher, 6 hours, per its 12/8/15 estimate (attached), but even then the total cost was estimated at only $75.

Mr. Woodard told the Warden’s Service that if it were easier to simply provide all e-mail rather than attempt to cull out only those e-mail related to Aroostook County filming that would be fine. The Warden’s Service completely missed the point of that offer and responded that this would be a new request, restarting the clock to respond from scratch.

We now have a new estimate from the Warden’s service for 46 hours and $690.  This is shockingly high.  It builds in many unnecessary hours for internal review, and other unclear tasks, wildly beyond what is reasonably necessary based on what we understand to be a limited set of e-mail.

We reckon that the most likely possibilities are the following:

  1. The Warden Service has provided a seriously inflated cost estimate for the purpose of discouraging public access to public records.
  1. There is a huge amount of additional information (literally, thousands of e-mails) not yet made available for inspection or copying that, but for the PPH’s persistence, would never have surfaced. And, the Warden’s Service provided an (at best) incomplete response to Mr. Sheppard’s previous separate request [on behalf of the Press Herald’s sister paper, the Kennebec Journal, in August 2014] when it provided to him screen shots showing only a few hundred e-mails.

Would you please look into this matter?  We would like to know exactly what methodology was used to derive the estimates.  How many emails in total are we talking about here?  What pace are we assuming for review of them? What specific tasks are being performed by whom and why are they being duplicated?

Also, on February 3, I received an estimate of time to respond to my public records request, which asked merely for documents related to IF&W’s efforts to respond to Mr. Woodard’s request, of (6-12 hours / $105-$225).  I then asked on February 5 for a fee waiver and wrote that I could not agree to payment without a more detailed invoice and that payment could not be made on an invoice that is not itemized or exorbitant.  This request also, which merely sought documents about the Warden’s Service attempt to fulfill Mr. Woodard’s request, is outstanding.

In short, we’ve not made much progress at all in getting access to the public records requested back at the beginning of November.  Now that we seem to have the possibility of actually getting access to what might be a reasonably complete set of public records we’re facing fees of about $1,000 in total.  Under all the circumstances, fees should have been waived (or kept to a minimum) and all the records should have already been made available long ago for inspection and copying as required by Title 1, Section 408-A.

Any assistance you may be able to provide would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

– Sig Schutz


From: Kielty, Brenda

Sent: Thursday, February 25, 2016 4:11 PM

To: Schutz, Sigmund D.

Cc: AAG Randlett

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Attorney Schutz,

I will look into this immediately.

Brenda


From: Randlett, Mark

Sent: Thursday, February 25, 2016 4:32 PM

To: Schutz, Sigmund D.

Cc: Kielty, Brenda; Capt. Theriault; others

Subject: RE: January 23, 2016 FOAA request

Sig,

I was out of my office all day yesterday and, because this email arrived later in the evening on Tuesday, I didn’t see it until today.  I had not yet had a chance to get back to you on this today, but will point out that IFW has agreed to conduct a search that includes having Cpl. McDonald review his e-mails, once again, to make sure that all of the responsive documents are identified and provided; and which has been expanded to also include record searches by all of the game wardens who work with representatives from Engel Entertainment/North Woods Law to look for any documents they may have.  I informed you of this approach in my emails to you on February 9th and 18th, to which you agreed.  I also made it clear that it is expected that these documents will contain confidential information such as criminal history record information, intelligence and investigative information, and child protection involvement, which will require time for review and redaction.

I am astonished that you have somehow found it appropriate to submit a new complaint with AAG Brenda Kielty.

IFW has developed an appropriate plan to move forward to expand and refine its search for records responsive to this FOAA request, to which you agreed, as is prepared to do so.

Mark.


From: Schutz, Sigmund D.

Sent: Thursday, March 03, 2016 11:01 AM

To: Brenda Kielty

Cc: AAG Randlett

Subject: PPH November 2, 2015 FOAA Request / PFB&P December 23, 2015 FOAA Request

Brenda:

I have your voice mail of Friday following up on my communication about the fee estimates and overall status of the Warden’s Service response to the FOAA’s.  I’ve copied Mark Randlett, above, to keep him in the loop.

  1. I have a new estimate from IF&W received on 2/26/16 and await receipt of the records responsive to my 12/23/15 public records request.  I just sent Mark a separate e-mail to confirm that we’re on the same page that this request is pending and the next step will be to release records.
  1. I have your message of Friday reporting that a further search by Cpl. MacDonald will be completed without charge.  You also ask about whether the PPH wants to proceed with searches for requested public records to/from/cc’d to other wardens.  The answer to that is yes, but the PPH narrows the scope of its request (last sentence of page 1 of the 11/2/15 request) to limit the date range to August 1, 2013 to August 1, 2015, inclusive.

Thank you,

– Sig Schutz


From: Randlett, Mark

Sent: Friday, March 11, 2016 10:26 AM

To: Schutz, Sigmund D.

Cc: Capt. Theriault; Brenda Kielty, others

Subject: RE: FOAA request of 2 November 2015

Sig,

Attached are additional e-mails found by Cpl. MacDonald regarding Mr. Woodard’s November 2, 2015 FOAA request during his reexamination of his records.  These cover the period from October 25, 2013 through September 14, 2015  and are all of the responsive documents that Cpl. MacDonald has which are responsive to the request.  As indicated previously, there is no additional charge for the production of these specific records. [The attachment includes a handful of additional emails.]

IFW has contact Eric Stout from the Office of Information Technology for assistance with defining relevant search terms and providing any needed desk side instruction to ensure that the searches for the other wardens who work in Aroostook County with Engel Entertainment/NWL are comprehensive and efficient.  IFW and Mr. Stout have met and begun that process.

Mark.


From: Randlett, Mark

Sent: Friday, March 18, 2016 3:05 PM

To: Schutz, Sigmund D.

Cc: Capt. Theriault, Brenda Kielty, others

Subject: FOAA estimate IFW

Sig,

Attached is IFW’s good faith estimate for the additional search by IFW for records responsive to the FOAA request for correspondence between personnel at the Maine Warden Service and Engel Entertainment, its agents and subsidiaries in regards to potential or actual filming and/or production in Aroostook County between 1 January 2012 and 1 August 2015.  IFW requests payment of ½ of the estimated cost up front.

[The attachment claims it will take the wardens 33 hours and cost an additional $495 to produce their emails with Engel. They propose an elaborate process to locate their emails, described as follows: “IFW will utilize Office of Information Technology (OIT) project manager, Eric Stout, to conduct searches for responsive records on IFW email accounts. Identified staff will travel to a state broadband connection, assist Mr.Stout with establishing a remote connection to their email, and assist him with identifying potential responsive communications between identified IFW staff and identified Engel Entertainment staff. Any responsive records will be copied to a folder on a network drive where they can be printed, redacted, and copied by IFW administrative staff.

Mr. Stout estimates that it will take approximately one hour to conduct the search with IFW staff and move responsive records from their computer to the location on the network where they will be visible for administrative staff to process. Mr. Stout will ensure the search is conducted consistently with each staff member….”]

Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns.

Mark.


From: Schutz, Sigmund D.

Sent: Thursday, March 24, 2016 12:27 PM

To: AAG Randlett

Subject: RE: FOAA estimate IFW

Mark:

Why can’t the wardens just locate and provide their emails with Engel, just as any other public servant does in response to a FOAA?  Why do they need in person meetings with OIT to accomplish this task?  The estimate suggests that charges include travel time for wardens to come to Augusta to work with OIT.  Is that correct?

Thank you,

– Sig


From: Randlett, Mark

Sent: Thursday, March 24, 2016 2:28 PM

To: Schutz, Sigmund D.

Cc: Brenda Kielty

Subject: RE: FOAA estimate IFW

This process was worked out with Brenda Kielty, and it’s my understanding this was thought the [sic] be the most thorough and cost effective way of doing it.


From: Colin S Woodard

Sent: Thursday, March 24, 2016 4:30 PM

To: Brenda Kielty

Cc: AAG Randlett; Sig Schut

Subject: RE: FOAA estimate IFW

Dear Mark and Brenda –

I understand from Sig that this cumbersome seeming process was devised by you, Brenda, and the wardens.

Can you explain why this was considered a more efficient and cost effective option than just having the wardens locate and forward the relevant emails to headquarters for review and release, just as any other state agency personnel would do in similar circumstances? I fail to understand why OIT and broadband nodes would need to be involved.

Regards,


From: “Randlett, Mark”

Date: March 25, 2016 at 2:50:57 PM EDT

To: Sig Schutz

Cc: Brenda Kielty

Subject: FW: FOAA estimate IFW

Sig,

I don’t think it would be appropriate for either Brenda or me to respond to your client on this.  The search method being used was determined to be the most appropriate way satisfy the FOAA request; and the cost estimate for the search using this method was found to be reasonable.  If there are specific questions regarding how the cost estimate was arrived at please let us know.

Mark.


From: Colin S Woodard

Sent: Saturday, March 26, 2016 7:24 PM

To: Brenda Kielty

Cc: Sig Schutz; AAG Randlett

Subject: Re: FOAA estimate IFW

Brenda –

Mark asserts this is your idea.

If you are indeed proposing this as the best way to satisfy my FOAA request, it would be reasonable for you to share with me — and the institution that has to pay the resulting charges — why this is the best approach.

Colin


From: Kielty, Brenda

Sent: Monday, March 28, 2016 2:42 PM

To: Colin S Woodard

Cc: Sig Schutz; AAG Randlett

Subject: Schutz/IFW

Colin,

I got your email this morning and since this FOAA complaint was submitted and has been handled by your attorney, I gave him a call. It is typical for me to communicate with attorneys when they are involved in a dispute. However, Attorney Schutz explained that you would want to talk to me directly.

I understand that you have some questions about the estimate.

After reviewing the initial estimate, I met with OIT and IF&W staff. My concerns were that the estimate for how long each individual staff member would take to search their email varied widely and there was no consistent search criteria being applied to the separate email accounts. I generally advocate for a standardized time estimate for a single email account based on the number of keywords searched. The level of staff training for electronic record searches can vary and I do not support charging a requester beyond the amount of time a reasonably trained employee would take to conduct the search. The variation in search time among staff is currently a common situation across state and local government and certainly not unique to IF&W.

Based on information I’ve received from OIT, a fair standard to conduct a search with under 5 search terms is around 1.0 to 2.0 hours. IF&W agreed to adjust the estimate downward to reflect a standardized time per email account search.

The choice of search terms and the scope of the subsets of records resulting from the search were issues earlier in this dispute. In this instance I asked that OIT provide assistance with the mechanics of the search to avoid the same issues from arising again. My understanding is that OIT will connect with the custodians remotely and apply a consistent methodology to the search process. I believe this is the most efficient and reliable process under the circumstances.

Please let me know if you have further questions.


From: Colin S Woodard

Sent: Monday, March 28, 2016 3:03 PM

To: Brenda Kielty

Cc: Sig Schutz.; AAG Randlett, others

Subject: RE: Schutz/IFW

Ms. Kielty –

Thank you for your note.

There has been a repeated introduction of the same red herring in this FOAA request: that somehow [Maine Warden Service] personnel need to struggle and strain to find the right search terms to locate their own correspondence with Engel Entertainment related to Aroostook County “North Woods Law” productions.

Once again, this does not pass a straight face test.

Each warden likely recalls their contacts with Engel, especially as they were presumably few in number (as Cpl. MacDonald is the service’s official liaison, and presumably handles most contact with them.) In any case, all each warden needs to do is pull up mails from recipients with the domain “@engelentertainment.com”. As most of these wardens are based in Aroostook County, they should not have difficulty separating the responsive emails from the lot.

I would suggest this should take each warden about 15 minutes. It will not require the intervention of OIT, the use of a “state broadband connection” or indeed anything more than a 3G cell phone signal.

If we wish to maintain quality control, OIT could also perform this same task, perhaps in even less time, to provide a benchmark against selective omissions.

We request MWS revisit their approach and the resulting cost estimates.

Thanking you for your continued attention and

Best Regards,


From: Kielty, Brenda

Sent: Wednesday, March 30, 2016 4:55 PM

To: Colin S Woodard

Cc: Sig Schutz; AAG Randlett

Subject: RE: Schutz/IFW

Colin,

The estimating process includes a number of variables and as a forecast, is subject to change. I appreciate your position but it is not only the length of time needed for the search but the resulting reliability that is of concern to me. Would it be helpful to describe some of the factors I consider when reviewing an estimate for email searches?

• The scope of the request will determine the custodians and search criteria used. The current State of Maine system does not have a global search capacity and each individual account must be searched separately.

• The skill level of the person conducting the search will affect not only the time needed but the quality of the resulting set of records.

• The number of custodians searching will affect the assembling and review time needed to process the results.

• The specificity of the requested content area and the number of search terms used to find responsive records is a key driver in the time estimate. Except in simple requests, the search process is not an exact science and often involves trial and error to target the most relevant subset of records.

• The timeframe of the FOAA request will affect the time needed to find, load and search files. For State of Maine users, the current mailbox for email has a limited amount of storage and may be set at auto-archive for as short a time as six months. PST archive files that are stored outside the user’s mailbox have to be located, attached to Outlook and indexed before being search-ready.

• The volume of responsive records determines how much time is needed to review and redact confidential information.

I understood the FOAA request to include not only communications from Engel Entertainment representatives but any communications relative to the Northwoods Law project. For that reason, I used the standard 1 to 2 hour range estimate for up to five key word searches. In addition, the request goes back four years and the search should therefore include locating and attaching any archived PST files.

Let me know if you have any questions.


From: Colin S Woodard

Sent: Monday, April 04, 2016 8:50 AM

To: Brenda Kielty

Cc: Sig Schutz; Steve Greenlee; AAG Randlett

Subject: RE: Schutz/IFW

Brenda,

Thank you for your explanations of the estimates you created on behalf of the Warden Service.

However, as they were based on several faulty assumptions, I suggest they be revised downward to more accurately reflect the extremely basic nature of this public records request, now more than five months in process.

If you consult my request, the instructions are clear: “Copies of all correspondence – including emails and letters – between personnel at the Maine Warden Service and Engel Entertainment, its agents and subsidiaries in regards to potential or actual filming and/or production in Aroostook County….created between 1 January 2012 and 1 August 2015.”

We have since narrowed the time frame of our request to “to August 1, 2013 to August 1, 2015, inclusive.” (See Attorney Schutz’s email of 3 March.)

As the Warden Service well knows – and we did not at the outset – all Engel personnel have the same email domain address. It should take 15 minutes for each warden to locate these.

Regarding this newly alleged challenge in locating two- and three-year old emails: I have done many FOAA requests involving years-old emails from a wide range of state agencies and none of them have had any difficulty producing far more complicated and voluminous responses in a far more timely and cost effective fashion. I do not accept that the warden service is uniquely unable to locate a few emails over a half year period without advanced technical help from Augusta, broadband connections, and the use of remote servers.

Given the history of this request, I do see merit in having OIT “backstop” the wardens to detect and avoid selective omissions of responsive material. We are happy to entertain cost estimates for OIT’s time in doing so, but this should be a separate matter – and paid to a separate entity – from the work done by the wardens.

I look forward an appropriately revised estimate, and to a timely conclusion of this simple public records request.

Thanking you for your prompt attention and

Regards,


From: Kielty, Brenda

Sent: Monday, April 04, 2016 9:52 AM

To: Colin S Woodard

Cc: Sig Schutz; Steve Greenlee; AAG Randlett

Subject: RE: Schutz/IFW

Colin,

I want to be sure there is no misunderstanding. I did not create estimates on behalf of the Warden Service. I had no input into the original estimate and conducted a review after Attorney Schutz contacted me. At that point, I reviewed the estimate. I met with OIT and Warden Service staff and recommended that Cpl. MacDonald search again without charge, OIT assist with the remaining search and a standardized search estimate be applied.

Brenda


From: Colin S Woodard

Sent: Monday, April 04, 2016 10:07 AM

To: Brenda Kielty

Cc: Sig Schutz; Steve Greenlee; AAG Randlett

Subject: RE: Schutz/IFW

Brenda,

Thank you for the clarification. I wasn’t referring to the initial estimate, but to the part we’re working on now in regards to the 11 wardens.

AG Randlett’s prior emails have stated that you helped create the latest estimates, viz: “This process was worked out with Brenda Kielty, and it’s my understanding this was thought the be the most thorough and cost effective way of doing it.” Further, you have described how you worked with MWS and OIT to come up with the latest estimate, and the protocol now being used.

If there’s still a  misunderstanding, do clarify. Ultimately, however, this is a side issue in what has been a very long effort to secure compliance with a garden variety public records request.

Colin


From: Kielty, Brenda

Sent: Tuesday, April 05, 2016 10:36 AM

To: Colin S Woodard

Cc: Sig Schutz; Steve Greenlee; AAG Randlett

Subject: RE: Schutz/IFW

Colin,

I just wanted to let you know that I am looking at this and will be in touch when I have some information.

Brenda


From: Kielty, Brenda

Sent: Wednesday, April 06, 2016 5:13 PM

To: Colin S Woodard

Cc: Sig Schutz; AAG Randlett

Subject: Schutz/IF&W

Colin,

The Warden Service will conduct a “sample” search of two of the identified wardens email accounts to determine an average actual time for a thorough search. The result will be applied to all of the custodians listed in the estimate and any needed adjustment will be made.

The time frame is August 1, 2013 to August 1, 2015. As you requested in your email of March 28, 2016, a single search term of “@engelentertainment.com” will be used. Emails to that domain or from that domain will be considered responsive to the request.

It is my understanding that the searches will be done as soon as possible.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Brenda


From: Colin S Woodard

Sent: Wednesday, April 6, 2016 9:27 PM

To: Kielty, Brenda

Subject: RE: Schutz/IF&W

Hi Brenda –

Ok. Look forward to the revised estimate.

[Twenty-one days pass]


From: Denise MooreBrann

Sent: Monday, April 25, 2016 10:20 AM

To: Colin S Woodard

Cc: Capt. Theriault

Subject: Revised estimate for Aroostook County emails

Mr. Woodard

Attached is the revised estimate for the Aroostook County emails. [The new estimate is revised downward to about 30 minutes work per warden, or $225, but will take an estimated 30-45 additional days.]

Have a good day.


From: Colin S. Woodard

Sent: Friday, April 29, 2016 12:49 PM

To: ‘MooreBrann, Denise’

Cc: Capt. Theriault, Shon; Sig Schutz, Brenda Kielty

Subject: RE: Revised estimate for Aroostook County emails

Ms. Brann –

Thank you for your note and revised estimates.

As a pilot test of your system and the reasonableness of the associated charges – which still appear high to us — I propose we go ahead with your proposal, but for just one of the wardens on your list: [a warden named].

The volume and complexity of the results will give all of us a much better sense of whether your proposal is fair before we move on to the other personnel whose emails are responsive to our Nov. 2 request.

Thanking you for your attention.

[As of today, no additional materials have been released. The public records request is now more than six months old.]