Letter from William Thomas 12/5/93
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
Washington, D.C. 20090-6090
Dear Mr. Director,
This is a request for information made pursuant to the Freedom of
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.
I REQUEST THE LEGAL AUTHORITY BY WHICH MS. HORNSTEIN HAS IMPEDED PUBLIC ACCESS TO
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
Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
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