Advertising and Promotion commissioners took a second look at a set of recently proposed bylaws before officially adding them to the books on Monday.
The group first approved a resolution to add a 10-part policy for “open and responsive operation” on Feb. 13 suggested by Mayor Lioneld Jordan, who also serves on the commission.
Although the resolution passed, commission chair Maudie Schmitt said on Monday that there’s a second step in the process that hasn’t yet occurred.
“Our bylaws say that you discuss it at one meeting and approve it at the next,” said Schmitt before suggesting a change to one of the proposed additions dealing with posting the group’s agendas and relating meeting documents online in a timely manner.
One section of the proposed amendment called for posting of the documents no later than one week before the next regularly scheduled meeting, but Schmitt said that was a little too soon.
The problem, she said, is that the information from reports and A&P financials which make up the agenda packet aren’t always available seven days before the group meets.
She and commission director Marilyn Heifner, who typically compiles the agendas, said a couple of extra days would suffice.
“Well, if you need two more days, I’m good with that,” said Jordan.
The group then voted unanimously to amend the timeline and approve the new bylaw policy.
POLICY FOR OPEN AND RESPONSIVE OPERATION
1. Consistent with state law, we will respond as quickly as possible to provide all documents requested by citizens, allowing them to examine the records and providing copies of all public information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use.
2. Public documents must be open to inspection and copying by any citizen of the State of Arkansas, within three business days, upon request in accordance with the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), but we should attempt to provide access even sooner. The requester may examine records and request copies of documents, and it is the policy of the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission to provide those documents as soon as possible in accordance with the FOIA.
3. It is also the policy of the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission to recommend that sustainable measures be encouraged, such as the use of CD, DVD, jump drives, or e-mailed scanned documents to avoid the use of paper that causes a negative environmental impact. Such copies of documents are to be provided at the actual cost of the CD, DVD, or jump drive, or at no charge if the requesting citizens provide their own data storage devices.
4. If the requestor prefers paper copies, the person requesting must pay for the actual cost, which should be no more than 5 cents per copied sheet. If it costs less than 5 cents a sheet, remember that the actual cost is the standard upon which you should use in compliance with such a request. Larger paper documents, such as maps, will be more expensive, but the standard remains that the cost will be judged by the “actual cost” of the copying.
5. Avoid any situations in which staff could turn a simple document/information request into a formal FOIA requests unnecessarily. The first thing that does is hinder customer service and create an environment of a closed agency, as opposed to the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission’s open government policies and principles. There might be requesters who merely add the words “and I request it under the FOIA”, but the actual request is likely for a routine document like a form that the person could just be downloaded. Either should be approached as a citizen service situation.
6. It is our policy that a person does not have to fill in any form to get a public record. Requests may be made in person, by phone, by email, or in writing, and all are equally valid. Sometimes a simple document or information request will come from a citizen with the words, “I request this under the Freedom of Information Act”, but that is not necessary. The Commission and staff should provide the requested information or documents to the requestor without the requestor’s need to invoke the Freedom of Information Act.
7. The Commission and staff should treat all requests for documents with the same attention, responsiveness, and urgency as accorded FOIA requests. Whether a simple oral document request or a formal written request under the FOIA statute, it comes down to service and getting the information or document to the requestor as soon as possible.
8. To increase transparency and accountability, the By-Laws of the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission should be posted on the Commission’s website.
9. To increase transparency and accountability, the Agenda and supporting documents for meetings of the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission should be posted on the Commission’s website no later than five days before the scheduled meeting.
10. To increase transparency and accountability, HMR Tax Report summaries should be posted on the Commission’s website within one week after that information is available.