By SUE SUCHYTA
DEARBORN – Local activist Hassan Aoun appealed two Freedom of Information Act decisions during a Feb. 2 special City Council meeting, and was frustrated when the outcome did not meet his expectations.
Aoun met with the council during a Jan. 19 meeting, questioning the outcome of three FOIA outcomes. (See downriversundaytimes.com/2023/01/20/local-activist-appeals-foia-decisions-to-dearborn-city-council.) Each of his Jan. 19 requests were denied.
At the Feb. 2 meeting, Aoun focused on his first and third requests: asking for any notes, texts or recordings associated with Arab American News Publisher Osama Siblani’s intimidation complaint against him to the Police Department, and requesting a waiver of fees for his FOIA request of Mayor Abdullah Hammoud’s call logs and text messages from his city-provided cell phone, as well as Police Department financial records and city hall financial records.
Aoun was advised that many financial reports are posted online as part of meeting support documentation, and are already available on the city’s website.
City Council President Michael Sareini reiterated to Aoun that there were no call logs or recordings of Siblani’s call to the Police Department with respect to his Dec. 6 police report intimidation complaint. The call was reportedly received on a Police Department landline and was not recorded and the officer in question did not make a log entry of the call.
It was later determined that the videos created by Aoun which Siblani felt were threatening were determined to be protected free speech.
The second matter, a request for the waiver of more than $1,200 in FOIA fulfillment fees, was denied a second time by the council.
Aoun also asked any council members to recuse themselves from voting on the request if they were endorsed by the Arab American News, by Siblani or by any political action committee affiliated with the newspaper or its publisher. Aoun produced a photo allegedly taken of Sareini with Siblani at an Arab-American PAC event, demanding Sareini recused himself from the vote, which Sareini, on the advice of corporate counsel, declined to do.
Aoun verbally expressed his frustration throughout the meeting, predicting his denial before the vote occurred, and implying that a decision had been made to deny his request prior to the meeting vote.