Tribune Writes Coherent Story, News At 11!
Finally, the Tribune managed to focus on a story and get to the end of it without wandering off into the desert of muddlement and lost points. Hooray.
However, this still is the Tribune, so, of course, the story is missing some critical CONTEXT. I refer, of course, to the March 17 B-1 Headline, “Records act violations piling up,” which notes that Los Osos CSD board members “say that a staffing shortage makes it difficult to comply with state law” concerning getting public records into the public’s hands within the legally allowed time.
The story further notes that “activists who oppose the board, including officials recalled in an election last September, accuse the district of stonewalling.”
Hmmm, ya think it’s stonewalling or a staff overwhelmed by regime change, new board start-up requirements, staff time focused on about a gazillion public meetings, a week-long negotiation with State Officials with staff preparation time, staff changes, bookkeeping audits, staff members put on leave while the DA investigates weirdness on their watch, and, oh, did I forget to mention, staff time and lawyer’s time spent on lawsuits?
The Tribune states, “Recalled board member Gordon Hensley made 11 requests for documentation since the election, two of which he hasn’t received a response to, and nine of which were sent to the district’s lawyers, who, as in the other cases, have yet to respond. Hensley said he doesn’t care if the lack of response is politically motivated, only that the public cannot get information. [CSD President} Schicker said delay is because of a lack of staff.”
What went missing (Hey, this is the Trib, after all,) is the context that Gordon Hensley, as part of Taxpayers’ Watch, filed a lawsuit against the district before the newly elected CSD board had a chance to park their butts in their chairs. And of his 11 requests, 9 requests were sent to the lawyers. (This begs a question unasked: If you’re actively engaged in a lawsuit with a public entity and your document request relates directly to that lawsuit, can your request legally be treated differently than a routine request made by Joe Q. Public who want copies of last week’s agenda or something? In this case, 9 of Hensley’s request were sent to the lawyers, which makes me curious. The Trib story doesn’t ‘splain either the dates or the requests or the context. )
In a newly changed CSD, beleaguered by, oh, let’s say, lawsuits brought by YOU, it becomes humorous when YOU then complain that documents are delayed because the staff and attorneys are busy dealing with, oh, ummm, let me guess, here . . . oh, yes . . LAWSUITS!
That’s sort of like the piano player in the whorehouse shocked – shocked – that something untowards is going on upstairs.
Well, make no mistake, document delays are legal violations, even for a beleaguered CSD with staffing shortages. Happily, Karen Vega, the administrative secretary, has returned to work, so she should set the office to rights shortly. She had been put on leave pending a SLO District Attorney’s investigation as to how a certain contract came to be, uh, “backdated,” thereby raising the ugly specter of illegally falsified public records. Our local DA declined to pursue the matter, so the CSD is sending the case up to the State’s AG for a look-see, leaving us with the creepy possibility that the Case of the Back Dated Contract will turn into Freitas Redux.
On the other hand, our SLO District Attorney could legally pursue the Case Of The Public Records Act Violations. I’m sure that’s much more important than fully investigating the falsifying of public records and back-dating contracts. So, stay tuned.
And as for the Trib story, here’s the truly wonderful howler: “This is public information and needs to be given the utmost priority,” said The Tribune’s managing Editor Tad Weber. “We are seeking information to fulfill our watchdog role, and without that information we cannot adequately inform the citizens in Los Osos about the biggest controversy facing their town.”
. . . fulfill our watchdog role ?. . . . cannot adequately inform the citizens ?…. Oh, My ears and whiskers. Doncha just love it?