Letter from William Thomas 12/5/93

William Thomas
2817 11th Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20001

December 15, 1993

G. Dennis Keaton OR
Director of Information Systems and Technology
14th & Independence Avenue NW
Box 96090
Washington, D.C. 20090-6090

Dear Mr. Director,

This is a request for information made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act.

The Forest Service presently proposes to amend 36 C.F.R. 251 & 261, requiring permits for groups of more than twenty-five people to assemble on public land. This is not a major rule. The public comment period on this rulemaking ended on August 4, 1993. The agency says it is in the process of writing the final rule, and expects to publish it within a couple of months. There is broad interest in this matter; the regulation would affect every individual within the legal jurisdiction of the United States.

Between January and July I was involved in trying to arrange a meeting between Kathryn Way of the White House domestic policy staff, interested members of the public, and Forest Service officials. Ms. Way set the time of the meeting for July 27th at 2:00 PM, the tentative place of the meeting was the Agriculture Building. On July 25th Ms Way told me that she would get back to me the following day with the exact room number. Ms. Way called the following day to cancel the meeting. She explained that Ellen Hornstein of the General Counsel's office told her that public meetings during the comment period were "inappropriate."

Considering 5 USC 609(4) provides that the "head of the agency ... shall assure ... the conduct of open conferences or public hearings," it is difficult for me to imagine the legal authority empowering Ms. Hornstein to dictate policy to the White House.


This information will be used for educational purposes. Disclosure of the requested information will contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations and activities of the government. Subsequently a waiver of fees would probably be appropriate.

I would appreciate a response within the 10 working days proscribed by law.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.


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