Billings Township (Michigan) clerk doesn’t quite understand how the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) works.

Source: Open Records

Michigan official files FOIA on private organization
June 18, 2008

I wrote a post back in March about an official for Billings Township, Michigan trying to file a FOIA on a private grassroots organization. It seemed a little hard to believe so I suggested taking it with a grain of salt. Now, someone from the grassroots organization (Concerned Citizens of Billings Township) has found that blog post and confirmed that the story is accurate.

“We did get a FOIA from an ex official/current assignee of the Township. She is running for Township Clerk again.”

Concerned Citizens of Billings Township.

No wonder they’re concerned.

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5 Responses to “Billings Township (Michigan) clerk doesn’t quite understand how the FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) works.”

  1. pgg Says:

    More on FOIA in Billings:
    I am Editor of THE EAGLE EYE newsletter of the Concerned Citizens Committee of Billings Township, Gladwin Co, Michigan. Please visit

    The Billings Township Board has denied the existence of Phase III of the sewer project at several board meetings. Since the Fall of 2007, we have sent several Michigan FOIA requests for info on Phase III of the sewer project which the Township failed to reply to. Finally on May 11, 2008, I sent them a Federal FOIA request for the info since the sewer is Federally Funded. What the heck!

    The Township partially replied 2 months later(July 9) via email. In their reply, Billings Township denied the existence of Phase III (TWICE).

    Now it gets interesting: We sent the exact same FOIA request to the USDA Rural Development. RD replied to our FOIA with a map of Phase III and other info on Phase III. In addition, RD recognized our FOIA request as being made by ‘a representative of the news media’ -THE EAGLE EYE and did not charge fees. At the 7-14-08 board meeting, The Township Board denied THE EAGLE EYE news media status under Federal or State Law. By the way, Michigan Law needs to change.

  2. ms l Says:

    The eagle eye is not a recognized medium of the newsgathering organization, rather a ‘newsletter’ published for it’s members. As far as any person attempting to get information from her group, good luck. You are NOT even allowed to attend their ‘meeting’ unless you are invited. In other words, if you don’t agree with their take on things, don’t even bother asking to be allowed at their meetings. They will refuse, rather than take a chance on someone having a different view or opinion. Any information within ANY governmental unit that is not of a sensitive nature can be viewed by request. They can’t say the same thing, can they???

  3. Patricia G. Gnotek Says:

    Reply to ms:


  4. Patricia G. Gnotek Says:

    Reply to ms l: THE EAGLE EYE is a free publication. It has a circulation of over 700 and is also available on our website: TEE is also posted in several local businesses. The population of Billings Twp. is 2715 per the 2000 census. TEE is a recognized publication. Regarding invitations to meetings: We began having meetings Oct. 24, 2007. Our meetings were Open to the Public. We served cookies and coffee at the 1st meeting. We were sent a letter from the Health Dept. stating refreshments could not be served at our meeting place since it did not have a proper kitchen to serve the Public. The letter arrived just hours before our 2nd meeting in Nov. 2007. The Health Dept. said we could serve refreshments if we had guests. Our Members & Guests decided to bring their own refreshments and share. ‘Someone’ complained to the Health Dept. and it is very likely that same ‘Someone’ is now twisting the issue hoping to gain God knows what by calling us elitists and likening our organization to Hitler and Nazis. We have by request, opened our meetings to Guests with many differing opinions. But – do we prefer to keep to ourselves? Yes! I would like to thank the ‘Someone’ who made the complaint to the Health Dept. The CCC has benefited greatly from the Fellowship of like-minded individuals. We have a great team following the truth wherever it may lead. And we work well together as we hold out our hands to dozens of families in the community via our Random Acts of Kindness program. I encourage you, ms l to take a closer look at the Concerned Citizens Committee volunteers. You would be ever so lucky to get to know them. Warm regards, Patricia G. Gnotek President / Editor

  5. Jan Colton Says:

    Irrelevant whether someone thinks it’s a “legitimate newsgathering publication” or not. FOIA is not limited to the media. Anyone can make a FOIA request as an individual citizen or on behalf of any grassroots organization without having the legitimacy of their purposes questioned. FOIA is literally “FREEDOM of information”, not “PARSING of information to those we like.”

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