Now the Master Municipal Clerk has chimed in!
On the KNVN/KHSL 5 o’clock news, they ran a piece entitled “City Clerk Bogged by Public Record Requests.” We are hoping by now they have taken the video down, since Chico’s Master Municipal Clerk showed our public records requests, complete with our home addresses, to the cameraman, who dutifully included them in the news piece. It ran before we knew about it, but Quené did call and make a brief comment. You can read the updated article here.
We are appalled that the City would provide the media with our home addresses, particularly in a piece wherein the Clerk seems to be linking our requests for public information to potentially bankrupting the city. (Apparently blaming us for her minutes being 8 months behind was not getting sufficient traction.) The Mayor and some members of the City’s new Executive Team have been openly threatening us (read about that here), and we would prefer not to endure any additional threats as private citizens in our homes.
Following are our written comments in response to the story, which are supposed to be included in the 11 o’clock segment:
Of the 20 Public Record Requests we submitted on August 21, 2013, only two would have been the responsibility of the City Clerk’s office. While the City Clerk does respond to PRRs, she is only responsible for compiling information specific to her department, such as how long has a Councilmember been on Council; otherwise, the information comes from the responsible department. In most cases, the compiled information passes through the City Clerk’s office for transmittal only.
In the 5 o’clock news segment the City Clerk mentions that these PRRs are impacting her ability to complete City Council minutes. At the time we submitted our requests, the last posted Council meeting minutes were for January 15, 2013 – an almost eight-month backlog. Our requests for information are not responsible for that.
The website shown on the 5 o’clock news segment has no correlation to our group; our website is https://truthmatterschico.com/ and we welcome you to visit our site to become more familiar with who we are and what we are doing. In fact, on this website, we have provided a copy of every PRR we have submitted (without our personal contact information).
As former City of Chico employees with over 40 years of combined public service to the community, we know that the information we requested is readily available in electronic format. However, in an apparent effort to make it more difficult for us to use the information, the City has taken additional time to put the information in different formats (this is contrary to Section 6253.9.a of the California Government Code which I am attaching as a point of information). One example would be in a request for emails, which could have been simply attached to the City Clerk’s response to us, it was instead provided as a copy and paste from each individual email into the text of her response. Why would she take the time to do that?
Additionally, some of our requests were met with incomplete or inaccurate information, making it necessary for us to request the information again. One example is providing only training expenses when training and conference expenses were requested. This report takes only minutes to send through the financial software, and both expense codes could have been run in a single report.
We are no longer City of Chico employees. Through a resignation and layoffs, we are now concerned private citizens. As employees, we knew what information was available and where to go to get it. Now that we are private citizens, the only legitimate way to obtain information is to submit a Public Record Request. In our pursuit for transparency, to share the truth with the citizens of Chico at https://truthmatterschico.com/, we believe it is important to also share the backup documentation upon which our analysis and opinions are based.
Rather than treating us with the courtesy due private citizens, the City of Chico is giving us the runaround. If staff would simply provide the information and the City Clerk simply forward what is compiled, this whole process would be far less onerous.
This is getting ridiculous. Here are some examples of our requests, along with the inadequate or incomplete responses we have received.
Here is what we got: INADEQUATE RESPONSE TO HIRES_PROMOTIONS_RAISES
Now, does that look like a list of hires, terminations, promotions, reclassifications, and raises? I can tell you that the City’s Human Resources Department does have that list, since it was recently provided to one of the employee unions. Why don’t they want us to have the list? (Hint: They know what we are going to do with it.)
Here’s another example:
Here is what we got: INADEQUATE RESPONSE TO COUNCIL SERVICE YEARS
This is one of only two requests for information for which the Master Municipal Clerk is actually responsible. Does she expect us to believe this is all she could come up with in response to our request? Please! Do you believe this is the response she would have provided to anyone else who asked?
We will be providing a full update on the status of our PRRs as soon as we can take a break from answering the ongoing media assaults and get back to the business of telling the truth.
As always, thank you for your readership. Your comments and questions are welcome.