Calling Mrs. Johnson again to find out why I havent received a response to my FOIA appeal sent in last November. She has me on hold right now while she "looks up" the record. Mrs. Johnson is back now, and tells me that my appeal is still under review and also added (again) that I should be hearing something "in a few weeks" more. However, that is what she told me last Jan. 29 the last time I called her. I told her that basically all I am looking for at this time is some sort of "official" verification that my appeal was even received. Her reply to me was to inform me that such letters would not be issued until the appeal can be reviewed. She reminded me (again) that the dept was "backlogged" with such appeals and I said I imagine that you are, HOWEVER; I reminded her again that there was a statutoriy imposed statue of limitations on the time alloted for them to reply to FOIA appeal and I also inquired of her as to how long she would suggest I wait before suing them for failure to reply. She responded by informing me that I can direct my inquiry to her supervisor Darrell Strayhorn, the offical officer in charge of FOIA appeals, and offered to switch me over to Mr. Strayhorns voice-mail. Of course I said thank you and did in fact leave a message today for him inquiring of the status of my FOIA appeal submitted last November. Stay tuned to this post for updates.
JANUARY 29th, 2010 - 2nd Update
I just got off the phone with a Dorathy Johnson, FOIL "Special Appeals" Officer, who verified for me that my appeal was (indeed) recieved at their (DOI) Office on December 9, 2009.
I reminded her that it has been TWO MONTHS since I sent the appeal, and have not heard anything on it yet. She informed me that I should be recieving something in the mail soon. I asked her if she could give me an idea as to just how long it might be, reminding her that there is a statute of limitation on these things and I was just curious to know how long I should be expected to wait before I trouble them with a phone call again. She told me to "give it two more weeks."
If any one else wants to follow up on the "Jubic FOIA Appeal" you can call Ms. Johnson at (202) 2085339.
Sent Nov. 25, 2009, and still no reply to my FOIA appeal. Do you think they could be ignoring me, hoping I wil just go away? NOT. Tomorrow I shall give them a call to remind them I am still waiting to know what became of the over 600 horses taken from the Seaman, White River (Golden Gate) and Caliente Districts last year;
Department of the Interior / FOIA Officer
1849 C St. N.W. MS-6556, MIB
Washington, DC 20240
Re: FREEDOM OF INFORMATION APPEAL
Ely District BLM # NV-NVL 0000-2010-001
To Whom It May Concern;
I am writing to appeal a denial of my request to be provided with information concerning the number and location of all the wild horses and burros rounded up in 2009 from the Golden Gate, Seaman, White River and Caliente Herds, which by the numbers estimated in the respective EAs was said to total over 600 head of horses.
As indicated in my original request (attached) ....”The information I am seeking to obtain includes the names and locations of all the long and short-term holding facilities where these particular herd-members are being kept, whether said facilities are owned by the BLM or leased under private contract. I would also like to be provided with all of the individual herd-members brand numbers along with individual discriptions or photographs or any other information that would identify the individual horses removed from the above listed rangelands."
In response to my request, Ditha Hutchinson, FOIA Coordinator for the Ely District Office of the BLM, informed me by letter that they “do not have the information” I requested,” and forwarded my request to Arthur A. DiGrazia, Jr. , Wild Horse and Burro Operations Manager, Ridgecrest Regional Wild Horse and Burro Corrals, 300 S. Richmond Rd, Ridgecrest, CA 93555 (See Ely District Letter dated Nov. 16, 2009, attached)
On or about November 16, 2009, I did receive a letter from Hector Villalobos, Field Manager at the Ridgecrest Short Term Holding Facility in Ridgecrest California, who informed me that “to his knowledge” all wild horses gathered in the BLM Ely District during the 2009 season were transported to the Ridgecrest Facility and “no other.” However, he did not provide me with any documents that would validate that any transfer of animals had occurred between the Ely District and the Ridgecrest facility, no trucking record or receipts or bills of ladel, etc. (See Villalobos Letter dated Nov. 16, 2009, attached)
Included in Mr. Villalobos response was two documents, both "generic" cut-out portions of something else (retracted), one is a generic partial post-gather report which is not even printed on offical letter-head of any kind nor does it have anything printed upon it that would substantiate its date, author or place of orgin. In this "report," it is indicated only that a total of 689 horses were gathered from these complexes. There is nothing in this report to indicate what became of them after gather. (See partial post-gather report attached)
Mr. Villalobos then goes on to admit that the Ridgecrest Facility has processed only 15 wild horses from Ely District, which he states were gathered from the White River Complex. As proof of the processing of these 15 horses, Mr Villalobos submits a second “generic” document with a series of 15 numbers on it indicating the freeze-mark and signalment numbers of 15 horses. As mentioned above regarding the post-gather report document, this document is also a "generic" cut and paste rendition of numbers printed upon plain paper with no official letter-head of any kind nor anything printed upon it that would substantiate its date, author or orgin, or the current whereabouts of the 15 horses. (See “Prepped” Sheet attached)
I am appealing the response of the Ely District as a blanket denial and the response of Mr. Villalobos as a partial denial of my request and do so on the following grounds;
1. I was seeking information on the identification and whereabouts of over 600 wild horses gathered from these complexes and received only generic information regarding 15 horses allegedly gathered from the White River Complex and processed at Ridgecrest. The documents, devoid of any verifiable information, are insuffient as proof of gather, transfer or receipt and current whereabouts as same is not even on official letterhead so as to be able to acertain in fact which office had generated them or when or by whom. The documents are also unsigned or un-verified by any signature of their author.
2. The response does not fulfill any portion of my request seeking information on the whereabouts of ALL the wild horses gathered from these various complexes, including the 15 alleged to have been processed at Ridgecrest. The reply from the Ely District stating that they have no records whatsoever in regards to the “disposition” of these horses is incredible, and Mr. Villalobos' off-hand, "un-official" statement that “to his knowledge” the horses were transfered to the Ridgecrest Facility is an insufficent reply to a request for documentary proof as to the whereabouts of these horses allegedly gathered from the Ely District and allegedly transferred to Ridgecrest Short-term Holding Facility. Moreover, the "processing" records of the 15 horses allegedly taken from the White River HMA and allegedly transferred to Ridgecrest do not state where these horses were actually taken from nor does it state that these horses are being held at Ridgecrest. What I received was a series of numbers printed on a plain piece of paper devoid of any "officiality" with only the words "processed" stamped across the top. NO OTHER information at all appears on this document, not even any sort of offical or departmental letter-head or identification of any kind. There are no dates or signatures. This document tells me nothing.
I am appealing in hopes that I will be provided OFFICAL dated and signed departmental documents as kept in the normal course of business regarding the whereabouts of the 689 horses allegedly gathered from the Ely District BLM in 2009 and un-accounted for thus far. The information and documents provided in reply to my FOIA request are woefully insufficient as proof of the "chain of custody" or whereabouts and /or fate of these horses, and it is sufficient proof of same that I am seeking to obtain.
Thanking you in advance for any consideration you may give this matter. I anxiously await your reply.
Christine A. Jubic