Delaware Public Media

Rodney Square bus advocates get last round of FOIA'd emails from Carney Admin.

Jun 7, 2018

The Coalition to Keep Bus Service on Rodney Square received the last set of records it requested from Gov. Carney’s office regarding changes to bus service in Wilmington.

 


After the Rodney Square bus hub was dispersed in December, the coalition’s John Flaherty made a public information request for communications by the Governor’s office leading up to the decision.

Carney’s office repeatedly sought extensions to fulfill the request. After about five months, Flaherty filed a complaint to the Attorney General.

Five days after the complaint was filed in May, the Governor’s office sent the first of three batches of emails. The last batch arrived Wednesday.

The latest emails confirm previous reports by the News Journal that the Carney Administration talked with a representative of Buccini/Pollin about Rodney Square months before a public meeting was held.  

The emails reference a meeting between Governor Carney’s office, state agency officials, and Wilmington business leaders on May 16th, 2017, which The News Journal previously reported.

These new emails also reference a “pre-meeting” on May 10th, 2017.

Tara Mazer, the Governor’s director of scheduling, said in one of the emails she “traded texts with Rob Buccini last night” regarding the timing of these meetings. It is not clear from the emails whether Buccini was included in the “pre-meeting.”

But Flaherty is unsatisfied with emails produced by the request, which were repetitive and over half of which were redacted.

 

Carney’s office has defended the redactions under “executive privilege.”

Flaherty says he can’t imagine why so many of the emails needed to be redacted.

“There was nothing in those emails that really talked about the substance of our question,” he said.

But he argues evidence of planned, private meetings between Carney administration officials and business leaders indicates there’s not a level playing field for citizens.

Other parties to the communications uncovered by Flaherty’s FOIA request include representatives from the Governor’s office, DelDOT, the Wilmington Mayor’s office, Downtown Visions, Bank of America, Chemours and Buccini/Pollin.

Flaherty says his group will hold a public meeting next week with the Coalition for Open Government, of which Flaherty is on the board, to review the emails and discuss next steps.

“We haven’t contacted the American Civil Liberties Union. But if in fact the consensus is that we seek some legal advice, we’re certainly going to do that,” he said.

Flaherty is also waiting on an opinion from the state Attorney General’s office on whether the Governor’s office violated the Freedom of Information Act by taking nearly five months to produce records.

The Governor’s office did respond to Flaherty within 15 days of his request, as the act requires.

A spokesperson for the Governor says his office is as “transparent as possible within the bounds of reasonableness,” and Carney has said the “decision to remove certain bus routes from Rodney Square …  was the best move for the health of our city, and he will continue to say so publicly.”