Gov't

Just the Facts- Public Records

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By Dave Freneaux

Steven Stockstill is the attorney doing the final review of the City's legal bills in response to a public records request by Mike Mannino.  However, he was not "hired" by the Mayor as has been reported.  He is doing this review at the request of the Mayor's office and is doing it pro-bono, meaining "for the public good", at no charge.
 
It has also been reported that Mr. Mannino is still waiting for a response to his public records request of the emails of Russell Starns.  Mr. Starns, a private citizen and a member of the Central Community School Board, was not mentioned in any public records request for city records, and as a private citizen his personal emails by themselves are not subject to a "Public Records Request".  However, as a good faith gesture and a show of complete transparency, Mr. Starns has written the Mayor and asked for all e-mails between he and any official or employee of the City of Central and any employee or official of the company CH2M Hill be copied and made available at City Hall for public inspection by any citizen.

19 Comments

  1. Mike Mannino

    September 2, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Dave,
    Lets get this correct. The emails requested were between any citizens doing work for Central negotiating the CH2 contract on behalf of the City and CH2. I would expect that these would be public record. Glad that they are being volunterred so we dont have to go through the legal process to get a ruling on whether they are public records are not.

    This would be another case where someone would claim that because this is done by a private citizen or a private company, that its not public record. Thats what got this whole mess started and if thats the case, it violates the public records law trying to hide things under teh guies of “private” If thats teh way we are going to play and it appears that way with CH2, then no private citizen nor private company should be doing City business. I want it ALL available for public scrutiny.

    • dave

      September 2, 2010 at 1:32 pm

      Mike, let’s DO get this correct. The records request was for “any private citizen acting as a negotiator”. If that is the grounds on which you say the report was accurate, which I still dispute, where are the names of the others, private citizens and officials who helped negotiate the contract? If you are defending the printed claim on the basis that it could be “technically” interpreted as true, where is your demand that the “whole truth” be told? Like I have said before, you need to decide whether you are a seeker of TRUTH, or of selective truth,

  2. mike mannino

    September 2, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    To read the request as I intended, since I dont know all the members, I requested any and all emails between citizens that were a part of this team and CH2. Though Mr. Starnes was a member, I did not specifically request anyone by name, but asked for all communications by all members.

    I have no idea what you are saying in your post about technical truth or selective truth or whole truth but would be glad to respond if you will explain. This is fairly simple to me as a request for emails from a team of persons that I dont know the names of all of them and Ch2. I’m honestly confused by your response or what you are implying.

    • dave

      September 2, 2010 at 3:32 pm

      Mike,
      I believe the letter to the Mayor was in response to being singled out and named personally, in print, and having it made to look as if you had specifically requested those e-mails by name. You actually are not entitled to MY e-mails, even though I have e-mailed Ralph Washington about City business. You are certainly entitled to ask for Mr. Washington’s emails since he is a public official using city resources, and I may be either a sender or a recipient in one or many of those emails, but MY emails are not subject to a Public Records request. What I am weary of is the free pass that is given to broadcast misleading or incorrect information, and then the deafening silence that ensues when anyone asks for proof or presents contradictory evidence. What I am implying is that too much innuendo and supposition has been tolerated in the name of “free speech”. And THAT, is just my OPINION.

  3. Mike Mannino

    September 2, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    I still dont get your point. I am only asking for emails between citizens acting as agents of the city and ch2, and emails between public officials and ch2. Thata a fairly well defined scope and certainly within the public records laws.

    • dave

      September 2, 2010 at 8:44 pm

      Mike, I see that you truly do not get my point. My point has nothing to do with your Public Records Request. You have the legal right to ask for everything you asked for using the words you used in the request documents. No argument. My article was to correct two items that appeared in print that are relevent to current issues in Central and were either incorrect or misleading, and to give the facts of these matters. Mr. Stockstill was not hired by the Mayor and you did not make a public records request for the emails of Mr. Starns. THAT is, was, and always will be, my point. No more, no less.

  4. Mike Stephens

    September 2, 2010 at 9:16 pm

    Mike how many documents(pages)have you received and looked at?

    Have you found any wrong doing or anything that would indicate wrong doing?

    Do you really think there was any thing done ilegally?

    What are you looking for specifically?

    I think the only thing that you have found that generated a little interest and considerable coverage in CCN turned out to be a scratch sheet of paper when a group of citizens were trying to estimate the city budget.

    You certainly have the right to these governamental records and I have the right to ask the above questions because my tax dollars are being wasted-$0.25 a copy dont begin to cover the cost but it does keep the pot stirred.

  5. Mike Mannino

    September 2, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    Glad you mentione that Mike.

    When this is said and done, and someone tries to blame me for the costs, I will be ready believe me. Its insanity the way this has been handled and has needlessly cost this city taxpayers money. What should have been none to minimal costs, has been handled purposely in my opinion, in such a way as to cost as much as possible so as to try and turn the table on me. Wont work I can assure you so be prepared for a force necessary to overcome the force exerted against me, whatever that takes.

    What you may consider a “minor” issue is about 80% of our budget and I’m sure you are getting an earfull about it because way too many people are encouraging me to keep this up for it not to be resonating with the average citizen. Do not underestimate what people who feel they are being taking advantage of can do. Obama is about to find out and Central will too.

  6. Mike Mannino

    September 2, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    Dave,
    That is correct and I do agree. Mr Stockstill was volunterring his services from what I understand. He filed a motion on behalf of the Mayor in the CH2 lawsuit and was advising the Mayor on other issues, I guess pro-bono. And I did not specifically ask for anyones emails by name, just a broad request for persons that were acting as agents of the City.

    • dave

      September 2, 2010 at 9:52 pm

      Mike, Thanks for understanding the article had nothing to do with your requests. If I drew you into this discussion inadvertantly, I apologize.

  7. Tim Lazaroe

    September 2, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    Mike, I believe you when you say that a significant portion of our population supports your efforts. But, rumors, innuendos, and suggestive news articles have led them to believe that something is amiss. They are hoping that you find it.

    I resent the root cause of this situation and look forward to closure. I’m beginning to wonder though if Woody will ever allow closure.

  8. Mike Stephens

    September 2, 2010 at 11:54 pm

    Mike,
    Poorly handled and far more costly than it should have been-no doubt!I just ask 4 simple questions that you have failed to answer- It sure would help me and others understand

  9. mike mannino

    September 3, 2010 at 7:52 am

    Mike,

    Im not keeping count of the number but its in the several thousand range

    No wrong doing and I didnt expect any. Just looking for data to support what I believe could be done better in the future because some of the administration is so defensive of the status quo. There is nothing wrong with admitting that we were inexperienced and made some mistakes. However, certain people have defended the indefensible instead of listening to input from people that have good ideas. I was the first to commend the Mayor for coming out and saying that we would bid the Public Works contract. Not one person pointed a finger and said anyone screwed up or made a mistake, instead all I saw was praise. So admitting that things could be done better is not a sin, its a good thing. If we had more of that, I would not have had to ask for a single record to prove the obvious. You wont see me saying I told you so, all I want is improvement.

  10. Captain Obvious

    September 3, 2010 at 8:35 am

    After the “From the Mayor’s Desk” article was released last week where the mayor announced he was going to put out the City services for bid next year, this issue should now be considered dead. Other companies now have the opportunity to step in and provide competitive bids for the city services. To me it appears the mayor has now listened to concerns of central citizens.

    If there were any wrong doings, it will come out such as the indictments of the mayors of the surrounding communities on the West Bank.

  11. Concerned Citizen

    September 3, 2010 at 8:40 am

    Mike – So you have admitted that you have received thousands of records and have not found anything and do not expect to find anything. Even if the public records request were executed as efficiently as possible there would still be a cost to the city. You mentioned that you are looking for things that could be done better in the future. I’m wondering what kind of things. As you mentioned our contract for city services accounts for ~80% of our budget. The Mayor has already agreed to assemble a committee to review the contract and rebid. I hope that you are selected as one of the members of this committee so your ideas for improvement can be discussed and considered. Everyone in Central is in favor getting the most for our tax dollars. If you have ideas for improvement other than the services covered under our current contract with CH2MHill I would like to hear them.

    I believe that this massive public records request is a distraction to our city. If specific concerns exist by all means review the records and present the findings take corrective action if needed and move on.

  12. mike mannino

    September 3, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Concerened,
    That is my intent. I am actually quite floored by the uproar this has created. I really expected a much different response that would have been quick and cheap with the bulk of the costs for copies on me, and be finished by now. Unfortuantely, that has not happened and its not my fault.

  13. Jill

    September 3, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    Mike M., I’m going to have to jump in here and say that I think you are doing a great job of keeping our government accountable for it’s actions. Having asked my own personal friend, who happens to be a high profile litigation attorney, the way the city’s attorney has handled the public records request is completely absurd. He also informed me that the city’s attorney should reimburse the city for any services she bills for the redactions of the public records. Bottom line: When you walk into City Hall & give them the correct paperwork for a public records records request, the documents that are there should be pulled out & put on the table for viewing. Blame the city’s attorney for the cost, not Mike Mannino.

  14. Mike Mannino

    September 3, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    I agree Jill. I know the strategy at the end of this is to try and blame me for some outrageous legal bills that were not necessary. Its not my fault that this was handled in such a way to run up excessive legal bills. Somebody else needs to answer for that for allowing it to happen.

  15. Nathan

    September 6, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    This thing stinks no matter how much you give it a bath. Everyone knows who and what the problems are. The only solution is by getting rid of it.

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