Saturday, April 13, 2024

On Accusations of Meddling and Overreach

Earlier this week the editor of the Pioneer acquired emails sent by staff prior to their departure through what she claims was a Public Records Act (PRA) request.  In sharing the emails, she included commentary continuing to blame me for "meddling and overreach".  The editor claims this was quoted from our City Manager himself, however the word "meddling" does not appear in the email.  In her zest it appears she embellished the claim as is her pattern.  Here is the email that she shared:

Vague accusations of meddling and overreach without evidence is easy and has become the common refrain from detractors. This has been the case on multiple occasions - an vague assertion that something nefarious is happening without evidence - surprising from an editor of a newspaper.  

A little background on what appears to be the issue. At our 10.3.23 meeting, the Council rejected a proposal to spend $400K on a piecemeal approach to various landscaping issues, and instead directed staff to come back with a holistic view of what the City's needs were to we can make more informed decisions. Our City Manager welcomed the idea.

Approximately 5 months passed before we saw anything from that direction. City staff also neglected to perform a mid year budget review during this time as well. When the Council received this holistic analysis there was little in terms of detail regarding the forecast and more discussion about what services levels could be cut and what taxes could be raised.

I asked to see the supporting documents - after 5 months of effort there should be some support. It is unfortunate but true that policy analysis requires detailed review. Unfortunately this legitimate request was denied. When asking questions and simple straightforward requests are denied, it raises my concern, as it should with everyone.

Looking through details is how it was discovered that the City executed a non-cancellable $30K contract (the limit of signing authority) right before staff resigned. Or how it was discovered that there were tens of thousands of dollars set aside in the budget for promotions and new positions that had not been approved.

If that is the example of meddling and overreach, I stand by my request. It is my right as a Councilmember and as a citizen to see and ask questions about how my government is operating. It is how we as Councilmembers remain informed and make better decisions. 

After involving the City Attorney on my legitimate request, I finally received the files. After 5 months of time, I would charitably characterize the level of analysis as light.  Here are the series of related  communications:

I've saved them for viewing if anyone is interested. The files may need to be saved off to be viewed properly.  I've saved the actual files as well as the associated emails in my request here: