$1.50 stymies request for 2 centuries of Snohomish County records

EVERETT — A man’s anonymous demand for every record at the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office back to 1776 is no longer being honored.

That’s because he abandoned the request by failing for 30 days to collect documents that had been gathered together for him as the first installment, said Sara Di Vittorio, the deputy prosecutor who advises county departments on responding to public records requests.

In a brief phone conversation on Monday the man accused the sheriff’s office of denying him access but offered no details.

“My attorneys are handling it. I’ve got to go,” he said.

The man, who uses the online identities “Anon ymous,” “Alex Jones Teleprompter Technician,” and “Publius Publicus,” filed the records request in November.

He demanded the sheriff’s office provide him copies “in whatever form available, of each and every document in your agency’s possession of any and every kind whatsoever without exception or limitation except as provided by narrow exception of law.”

His request stretched from that day — Nov. 18 — all the way back to July 4, 1776.

That’s when the Continental Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence. It also was 85 years before the county was established, and 113 years before Washington became a state.

The county said it considered the request vexatious, but had no choice but to attempt to comply. When offered the first installment, the man refused to pay $1.50 for materials used in copying, Di Vittorio said.

The county routinely charges $1.50 to cover the cost of each DVD it uses when copying requested records. Under the state’s records law, governments are allowed to charge for reasonable copying costs.

In a Dec. 3 email, the man told the sheriff’s office the $1.50 was out of line, and that “by demanding payment without lawful authority to do so, you are effectively denying my request.”

He said he should be able to pick up the records for free, or, as an alternative, the county should simply post them on the county website for his retrieval.

The man has another records request still pending at the sheriff’s office. That one seeks specific information about deputies’ use of Tasers and drug-detection dogs. Those responsive records were made available weeks ago, also on a DVD, Di Vittorio said.

The man has written the county threatening a lawsuit against anyone in government who makes his identity public.

After The Herald reported about his records request, the man posted comments on the newspaper’s website and wrote an online article — all without providing his name.

“I don’t want money, I want the records,” he wrote. “It is much easier for them to throw mud than to perform as required.”

In a phone interview last month, the man claimed to be working with others to develop an online database of sheriff’s office records. He refused to provide details, including the names of those he claimed are involved.

The man’s demands for records led the sheriff’s office to order employees to hang on to every email, every recording, every Post-It note — regardless of the department’s usual practices for archiving or disposal.

On Monday, sheriff’s Capt. Tom Davis wrote staff that the order to retain everything had been lifted.

Scott North: 425-339-3431; north@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snorthnews.

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