Activist Robert Davis charged $47K for public records from land bank

Posted at 5:30 PM, Mar 27, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-27 18:59:29-04

Last week saw more headaches for the Detroit Land Bank.

A new audit slammed the authority over continued issues of compliance and mismanagement, something the land bank quickly and strongly denied.

It came just weeks after Mayor Mike Duggan said things are back on track.

Duggan said state oversight staff are now in the land bank offices, and there was now corporate compliance oversight that might have caught what the state recently said is $7 million dollars in questionable spending - $6 million of which the city disputes. 

There's also whatever the FBI is investigating. They've seized hundreds of thousands of items, focusing their probe on nearly three dozen land bank and Duggan administration officials.

Why do we know that?

Because of recent subpoenas, forced by a judge for release, after activist Robert Davis went to court to get them. 

"The public has a right to know," he said.

Davis is a felon, once sentenced to prison on corruption charges. He has made suing cities for records a regular habit. Sometimes he loses. Sometimes he wins.

Some argue his motives. But others might say, his occasional wins, like in the case of the recently released subpoenas, serve the public good.

Anyhow, he's at it again.

At the end of the year he filed a FOIA, asking the land bank for all documents and recordings provided to federal investigators surrounding the probe into the authority.

Hats over 250,000 pages of emails and attachments. It is one of the largest requests the land bank has received.

Davis got a reply. And the numbers are staggering.

The land bank estimated it will take over a 1,000 hours to complete the FOIA. And it will take 538 days to complete.

That means---about a year and a half.

And it will cost Mr. Davis $47 thousand bucks!

Davis tells us he believes indictments are imminent and the release of more subpoenas could prove eye opening.

Duggan for his part told us recently he has turned the page on the lank bank. But we don't know where the federal probe will lead or who will catch the blame.

Davis plans to sue to get those documents released - minus the hefty price tag.

The land bank declined to make a formal comment on Mr. Davis's FOIA, referring to the FOIA response itself.

Which says in a nutshell, they are simply following FOIA law and should Mr. Davis pay, they will comply.