Public agency refuses to release transportation data related to Amazon bid

From The Plain Dealer

The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, a publicly-funded entity obligated to follow Ohio's open records laws, has denied a request for transportation data it supplied to Team NEO as part of the region's bid to attract Amazon's second headquarters.

Grace Gallucci, NOACA's executive director, said she has been asked not to release the records and she directed to Dix & Eaton Public Relations, which helped organize the Amazon bid and is responding to media inquiries. did not request the Amazon bid but asked NOACA, which helps governments with transportation and environmental planning, for the underlying transportation information it gathered for the bid.

"We can't speak for NOACA on their data so that's a request they have to answer," Dix & Eaton CEO Chas Withers said, noting that some information related to the bid would be released today to The Plain Dealer.  

Gallucci said in an email after the story was first published online that the agency would review the request and respond according to the time frame prescribed by law.

"The referral to Dix and Eaton was intended to be helpful to you, as well as be consistent with my team's directive on point person for media coordination," Gallucci said. "As is NOACA's procedure, your request is being reviewed internally and we will get back to you as soon as possible, but definitely within the legal timeframe."   

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish have refused to release the bid, claiming that region's bid is proprietary, though they have been unable to show how underlying information is protected information. 

A spokeswoman for Budish said: "The county executive has given no directives to other agencies regarding what they can or cannot release."

NOACA's second vice president is Valarie McCall, Cleveland's chief of government and international affairs. She worked on the bid and has been a proponent of blocking the release of the Amazon bid as a whole.

McCall said in an email after the story posted that she was unaware of's request to NOACA and that she has not instructed the agency to sit on the information.