Without automated open data, some delay is inevitable, because every record request is treated as a unique event, requiring assessment, redaction of non-public data, double-checking, etc. Automation and providing for self-service not only connect the spirit of the law to the letter of it, but they also save staff time and, over the long haul, keep costs down.
Yes, open data can get political when city staffers release data sets without a plan. My advice: Focus on pragmatics: Where’s the biggest bang for your efforts? Where will you save a lot of time for legal, public information and IT staffers? Leave the politics and the policy wars to the political process.
If your local government’s IT is being run by folks like my argumentative friend, a common way they’ll avoid responsibility is to delegate up: Throw the question of “should we even offer open data” to the mayor or other policy makers. It’s a tactic akin to asking policy-makers if electronic forms should be used instead of five-part NCR paper.