Del. AG files FOIA suit against sewer, water authority

Bryan Cohen Aug. 4, 2011, 1:52pm


DOVER, Del. (Legal Newsline) - Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden announced a lawsuit Wednesday demanding that the Camden-Wyoming Sewer and Water Authority release records under the state's Freedom of Information Act.

The suit was filed on behalf of local resident Georgette Williams, whose request for public records was denied by the authority. Biden is seeking a court order compelling the authority to turn over its employee salary, benefits and overtime information.

"Delawareans must have access to public information about their government," Biden said. "The law is clear: the authority is a public body and the information sought by this citizen must be released. My office is taking this action to ensure that the law is followed and the records are provided."

Under the state's open records law, Biden can file suit on a citizen's behalf in his or her FOIA dispute with a public body if it ignores a determination by Biden's office that information a citizen requests is public and should be released.

The General Assembly passed Senate Bill 36, sponsored by Sen. Brian Bushweller and Rep. Donald Blakely, which clarifies that the authority is a public body and is subject to Delaware's FOIA law. The bill was signed into law April 19.

After SB36 was enacted, Williams filed a new FOIA request with the authority for various records, including salary and benefit information of authority employees. The authority denied the request, as it had a previous request in the spring, disputing its status as a public body under the law. Williams appealed the authority's ruling to Biden's office, which ruled last month that Delaware's FOIA statue applies to the authority and that it must release all of the requested information.

The authority is allegedly continuing to refuse to produce the requested records without a court order, which is why Williams asked Biden to file today's suit on her behalf.

The Camden-Wyoming Sewer and Water Authority is the only water-and-sewer authority in Delaware. It was created in 1962 by acts of the respective Wyoming and Camden town councils. Both governing bodies sent letters last month to the authority asking its leadership to comply with Biden's ruling and release the payroll information.

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