City of Atlanta Delayed Reply, Misleadingly Withheld Comcast Agreement
(APN) ATLANTA — The City of Atlanta waited three and a half months to respond to a records request for a signed copy of the 2009 Comcast Cable Franchise Agreement. Then, when the City finally responded, the City made false statements claiming the City did not possess the records.
The City of Atlanta continues its willful disregard for the Georgia Open Records Act, O.C.G.A. 50-18-70, et seq.
Atlanta Progressive News’s News Editor, the present writer, made the following request on February 08, 2020:
Dear Open Records Custodian Peter Cadushin and Open Records Coordinator Michael Smith,
Pursuant to the Georgia Open Records Act, please provide me with a signed copy of the Franchise Agreement between the City of Atlanta and Comcast of Georgia/Virginia, Inc., entered into on or around 2009, and authorized by City of Atlanta Ordinance 09-O-1223.
Please provide me with an electronic copy by email at your earliest convenience, but no later than three business days, as required by law.
Matthew Charles Cardinale, News Editor
Atlanta Progressive News
On February 14, 2020, APN’s News Editor amended the complaint in Cardinale v. City of Atlanta, 2020-CV-336027, to seek civil penalties against the City of Atlanta for negligently failing to timely reply to the Feb. 07, 2020 records request.
The City removed the case to federal court on March 09, 2020, and all the claims in that case are currently pending in federal court. The current case number is 1:20-cv-01077-AT and the case is pending before the Honorable U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg.
The filing of the lawsuit did not prompt the City of Atlanta, even through their Law Department, to try to correct the lack of response to the records request.
Alisha Irene Wyatt-Bullman, Supervisory Senior Attorney for the City’s Law Department, wrote:
“I write, on behalf of the City of Atlanta, in response to your February 8, 2020 Open Records Request regarding the ‘Comcast Franchise Agreement 2009.’ A copy of your February 8, 2020 request is attached to this email. In your request you ask for:
- a signed copy of the Franchise Agreement between the City of Atlanta and Comcast of Georgia/Virginia, Inc., entered into on or around 2009, and authorized by City of Atlanta Ordinance 09-O-1223.
After a diligent search, documents responsive to your request cannot be located.” (emphasis added)
Atlanta Progressive News was shocked at Ms. Wyatt-Bullman’s statement: that is, the possibility that the City of Atlanta has no copy of the agreement it signed and executed with Comcast, ultimately worth approximately one billion dollars in subscription revenues to Comcast over ten years; and worth tens, if not hundreds, of millions in fees to the City of Atlanta.
Then, APN recalled that the Auditor’s Office of the City of Atlanta is currently conducting an audit of the 2009 Comcast Franchise Agreement and its various contractual extensions. APN was interviewed by the Auditor’s Office as a stakeholder earlier this year as part of that audit.
On Saturday, May 30, 2020, APN’s News Editor made a records request to City Auditor Amanda Noble for a copy of the signed agreement; and, lo and behold, she provided it, with signatures and all.
Therefore, not only did the City of Atlanta knowingly fail to respond to a records request of which it was aware for several months, but the City then falsely asserted that it did not have custody of the records when, in fact, the Auditor’s Office of the City of Atlanta, which is part of the City of Atlanta, was in custody of the records.
APN’s News Editor is currently drafting a new claim for negligent false assertions regarding the existence of records by Supervisory Senior City Attorney Alisha Irene Wyatt-Bullman.
Under separate cover, on March 20, 2020, when APN was attempting to confirm receipt of the Feb. 08, 2020 records request by Michael Smith and Peter Kadushin, APN’s News Editor made a records request for the Feb. 08 records request.
To date, neither Smith nor Kadushin nor the Law Department, who was copied on the request, have replied to the March 20, 2020 records request.
(END / Copyright Atlanta Progressive News / 2020)