“Why Freedom of Information?”

Written By: admin - Apr• 02•14

PowerPoint presentation by Joel Campbell

  • Freedom of Information Committee

  • Society of Professional Journalists

  • Associate Professor – BYU Dept. of Communications

 

What do you know about Utah GRAMA open records law & the national Freedom of Information Act  (F.O.I.A.)?

BYU Prof. Campbell wrote a column for the Salt Lake Tribune regarding Cedar Hills Citizen’s for Responsible Government’s 2012 GRAMA request for emails called, “Cedar Hills case shows scars of fight for open government”.   See complete article via… http://www.cedarhillscitizens.org/sl-tribune-daily-herald-come-to-our-defense/

Why the need for “open records”?  Joel Campbell shared a PowerPoint presentation he prepared for his Journalism class answering some of those questions of how and why Freedom of Information law has been created.   Download the PowerPoint presentation here and click “Read Only”…     Joel Campbell BYU Prof – utfoiupdate.1

An example of the content includes quotes & quiz questions like this:

“When information which properly belongs to the public is systematically withheld by those in power, the people soon become ignorant of their own affairs, distrustful of those who manage them, and — eventually — incapable of determining their own destinies.”                          Quote is by   Lincoln? / Clinton? / Nixon? / Kennedy?

Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right and a desire to know.     –     John Adams

Let the people know the facts, and the country will be safe.     –    Abraham Lincoln

We must never forget that the free flow of information is essential to a democratic society.     –    Bill Clinton

 

What are the General Goals of having Open Records?

  • Increase transparency and openness
  • Increase accountability and decrease corruption
  • Improve the quality of government decision-making
  • Improve public understanding of decision-making
  • Increase public participation
  • Increase public trust
  • Increase security

 

Right to know

  • Proactive

The positive obligation of public bodies to provide, to publish and to disseminate information about their main activities, budgets and policies so that the public can know what they are doing, can participate in public matters and can control how public authorities are behaving.

NOTE:  See the complete PowerPoint above.

 

CHCRG believes…

that some critically important information has been intentionally withheld by the City, from its citizens, buried within multiple, confusing sources.  The proof?  Despite numerous requests over the past two years, the Mayor & Council refuse to publish a report to “shareholder” citizens (their bosses) of a simple table showing the year-by-year golf course losses and taxpayer subsidies.  Why?  It appears they are afraid that if you knew of the $550,000+ per year with 20 more years of the same “investment” likely until golf bond is paid off – you’ll stop trusting them.

Cedar Hills Citizens for Responsible Government seeks only to promote “open, honest, and transparent” city management in Cedar Hills – and has and continues to seek the public record via occasional GRAMA requests, so that important public information can be posted at www.CedarHillsCitizens.org at for FREE, in your behalf and in the public interest.

Those who would like a FREE copy of the PDF of the 6000 pages of the 2012 email records may send an email with that request to info@CedarHillsCitizens.org .

When the 2014 GRAMA request is finally fulfilled by the City, those too will be made available for FREE for the asking as a public service to serve the public interest!

Mayor Gary Gygi still claims “nothing of any significance was discovered in the 2012 email records”. The facts do not support him.  So much was discovered in the 2012 records, including the most significant fact that the Mayor, Council and City Officials had done a significant portion of city business on personal accounts without providing all copies back to the City Recorder as required by law – until our GRAMA request and then ORDERED by the Utah State Records Committee.  The city admitted that some of those records on personal accounts were allowed to be destroyed.

Why was the 20-year veteran City Recorder Kim Holindrake forced out at the time of CHCRG’s 2012 GRAMA requested of Mayor & Council member email records?  Some believe that the Mayor and Council decided to find her “insubordinate” and force her resignation in order to silence her, because she insisted on obeying her oath to uphold the law rather than do what some officials were asking her to do.  She should be touted as a hero of honesty.  See her press release article at…  http://www.cedarhillscitizens.org/daily-herald-ch-mayor-should-resign/

What is the City trying to hide from you and Cedar Hills Citizens for Responsible Government in our 2014 GRAMA request for their email records?  We would like to find out.

 

CONTACT THE CITY COUNCIL: Ask the Mayor and Council to come clean.   Ask them to provide the email records to for FREE in the public interest.   Ask them to publish the year-by-year Golf Financial Facts.  Encourage them to please choose to be completely “open, honest and transparent” with CH residents at all times.

 

.

The “Investigation” did not happen

Written By: admin - Mar• 18•14

Cedar Hills Citizens for Responsible Government’s (CHCRG) legal analyst Jerry Dearinger respectfully corrects the record, as requested by city officials:

 

On December 26, 2013, a meeting was held regarding Cedar Hills Citizens for Responsible Government’s (CHCRG) October 9, 2013 GRAMA Request for email/text records.   Mayor Gary Gygi, Councilmember Jenney Rees, City Manager David Bunker, City Attorney Eric Johnson and CHCRG members Jerry Dearinger & Ken Cromar attended.

During the meeting the city attorney felt it necessary to discuss an issue from 2012 regarding the County Attorney’ “investigation” of then Mayor Eric Richardson and City Manager Konrad Hildebradt.  The city attorney believed CHCRG had been mistaken in our understanding that County Attorney Jeffrey Buhman had not investigated charged filed in District Court, as Ordered by Judge Taylor.  The city attorney believes, and has advised the Council that Mr. Buhman had indeed  “investigated”, and demanded our reply and correction.

Our position is that County Attorney Jeffrey Buhman did not, would not, and has never claimed to have “investigated” the charges, as Ordered by Judge Taylor, even when offered the opportunity by the Judge to do so in a court brief August of 2012.

Jerry Dearinger’s response to City’s claim of “Investigation” corrects the record, published now for CH residents, after the State Records Appeal for Hearing filing proved necessary, — as follows:

 

From: Jerry Dearinger <jwdearinger@gmail.com>

Subject: Re: Response to Eric Johnson email regarding County Attorney “investigation”

Date: January 21, 2014 12:52:50 AM MST

To: Gary Gygi <ggygi@cedarhills.org>

Cc: David Bunker <dbunker@cedarhills.org>, jrees@cedarhills.org, taugustus@cedarhills.org, dzappala@cedarhills.org, rcrawley@cedarhills.org, mgeddes@cedarhills.org, Ken Cromar <kencromar@bluemoonprod.com>, Ken Severn <ksevksev@gmail.com>, Paul Sorensen <paulsorensen7@gmail.com>

 

“Mayor Gygi,

“May I begin by adding my thanks to you and the other representatives of the City for taking the time to meet with Ken Cromar and me on December 26th.  While it is clear to me that we see a number of things differently, depending on our particular perspective and experiences, hopefully we have opened a dialogue that will eventually result in substantially narrowing our differences and help each of us to begin to see from the other side.

… “In response to an April 26, 2012 emailed letter from Sorensen-Severn presenting additional information or evidence, Mr. Buhman sent the following email to them on or about May 3, 2012:

  • “Our investigators have the information you emailed to our office.  They will review the information as they are able and will make a recommendation to me about whether to conduct an investigation.  I anticipate that will take a few weeks.  If you have any questions please feel free to contact our Bureau of Investigations (emphasis added).”

“I believe the foregoing statement further supports my (and I believe Ken’s) position that Mr. Buhman’s office did not conduct “an investigation,” as was contemplated by Mr. Buhman under Judge Taylor’s January 2012 Order.  Mr. Buhman did not further communicate with any of us, but other personnel in his office verbally communicated that no investigation had been undertaken.

“In the end, the status of Mr. Richardson’s and Mr. Hildebrandt’s activities with respect to their offices of trust within the City of Cedar Hills remains unresolved.  We do not know whether the accusations made were “baseless,” as claimed by you in a September 20, 2012 press release, or whether they were valid claims of impropriety, as apparently suspected by Mr. Sorensen and Mr. Severn, as well as others of us.  No investigation into the veracity of their claims was ever made.  The statement of the County Attorney that he did not believe the “six areas” identified, if true, violated what he believed were “criminal statutes” does not address the question as to whether they were true or not, or whether they violated Utah Code Section 10-3-826.  We may never know, as we certainly did not have the time or money to pursue much more expensive avenues to find out, and both men are now gone from Cedar Hills government.

“I hope this particular discussion is at an end. I also hope that each of us learns something from the history of this matter, so that some of the pitfalls and ruts in that road can be avoided, and that we can develop sufficient amicable communication and openness that will help to avoid such distrust and adversity as we have seen in the past.  Things have much improved and hopefully they will continue to do so.  I believe all government, good or bad, requires close attention by the citizenry and needs to be challenged from time to time; but hopefully it can be with greater trust and respect from all sides.

“Unless you have some good reason to respond to this, it will be unnecessary to do so.”  …

 

“Jerry Dearinger

Member of Cedar Hills Citizens for Responsible Government”


For complete letter please see PDF…   Jerry Dearinger’s response to City’s claim of _Investigation_

________

 

In conclusion, CHCRG has been asked to correct the record.  We believe we have.

While it is true, as the city reports, that Judge Taylor concluded he had no authority to enforce his ORDER to the County Attorney to investigate, CHCRG did not, nor does not now believe that this in any way vindicated or proved innocence of former Mayor Eric Richardson & City Manager Konrad Hildebrandt.

We also believe it a significant and unfortunate fact that the City hired attorney Peter Stirba to represent them at the same time Stirba also provided legal services for the County Attorney’s office.  To us this appeared an unethical conflict of interest, requested by city officials, which did not protect, and indeed harmed the interest of Cedar Hills’ residents.

Mr. Stirba’s analysis was apparently accepted by the County Attorney, though according to him and his office admitted on a few occasions, in writing, that they had not “investigated”.

CHCRG has gotten accustomed to having our efforts and motives mischaracterized by the City to CH residents in its publications, website and on the City Councilman Zappala moderated www.AboutCedarHills.org Forum.

Nevertheless, now that we have done as the city requested in correcting the record, and we hope the City will do the same. CHCRG respectfully invites the City to consider correcting the erroneous conclusions for CH residents, as documented in the final paragraph published on the city website September 20, 2012 under the title, “Investigation”, which reads:

  • “As the Utah County Attorney did properly investigate the allegations made by Mr. Severn and Mr. Sorensen, the Court denied the request of the accusers to issue a writ or order to review the investigation as the Utah Constitution prohibits any attempt by the courts to assume management of an investigation.  “We are pleased with the decision made by the Court,” stated Mayor Gary Gygi. “It is baffling as to why Mr. Sorensen and Mr. Severn continue to pursue these baseless allegations as Mr. Hildebrandt and Mr. Richardson resigned their positions earlier this year and no longer serve the City in any capacity. City staff and officials are looking to the future and it is our hope that these residents will do the same.” http://www.cedarhills.org/node/1685 (emphasis added)


“Open, honest and transparent” government is our shared goal.  We hope that we can continue keep the doors of respectful dialogue open between city officials and members of Cedar Hills Citizens for Responsible Government.   Thank you!

 

________

 

The following are support documents which demonstrate County Attorney Jeffrey Buhman did not claim, at least in writing, to have ever “investigated”, provided for your consideration:

 

July 30, 2012

 

Honorable James R. Taylor

Fourth District Court Judge

125 North 100 West

Provo, UT 84601

 

Subject:       The Court ORDER of January 27, 2012, unfulfilled by Utah

County Attorney Jeff Buhman.  Case Number: 120400093

Dear Judge Taylor,

On January 23, 2012, we, Paul Sorensen and Ken Severn, filed six misdemeanor accusations against Cedar Hills Mayor Eric Richardson and City Manager Konrad Hildebrandt, under Utah Code 77-6-4. …

For complete letter please see PDF…   Judge Taylor ORDER unfulfilled by County Attorney.PRS – Case #120400093-1

____________

 

County Attorney Office response to our request for copy of their brief to the Court, as invited by Judge Taylor…

 

From: “Jeff Robinson” <JEFFR@utahcounty.gov>

Subject: Re: District Court request for Briefs – Cedar Hills investigation

Date: August 30, 2012 8:32:54 AM MDT

To: “Paul Sorensen”

 

Hi Paul

There has been no action taken.  So I don’t have anything for you to pick up.  Sorry.

 

Jeff Robinson

Bureau Chief

Bureau Of Investigations

Utah County Attorney Office

100 East Center Street, Ste 3300

Provo, UT  84606

Ph: 801-851-8026

Fax: 801-851-8070

>>> On 8/29/2012 at 2:26 PM, in message Paul Sorensen wrote:

Hi Jeff, 

Just thought that I would see if your office has put together a Brief to Judge Taylor regarding my questioning the implementation of his order to investigate Cedar Hills officials?  If so, would like to pick up a copy.

Thanks in advance,

Paul Sorensen

________

 

Our response to Judge Taylor’s invitation to provide legal brief…


August 31, 2012

 

Honorable James R. Taylor

Fourth District Court Judge

125 North 100 West

Provo, UT 84601

 

 

Subject:       Invitation to provide legal brief regarding the Court ORDER of

January 27, 2012, unfulfilled by Utah County Attorney Jeff

Buhman.  Case Number: 120400093

Dear Judge Taylor,

As citizens of Cedar Hills who filed accusations with the honorable Court on January 23, 2012, regarding reported abuses by two local government officials, we gratefully accept the Court’s invitation to provide a legal brief expressing our view of the intended scope of U.C.A. 77-6-1, et. Seq., particularly the phrase “shall investigate and may prosecute” found in subsection (2)(a), [of 77-6-4], and the authority of this Court to direct or mandate an investigation by a separate branch of the government.”

  1. “…The county attorney …shall investigate and may prosecute the accusation.” …

 

For complete letter see PDF…   Judge Taylor – our reply to Judge’s request for Brief#120400093-1

.

.

Records Committee grants CHCRG a Hearing

Written By: admin - Mar• 13•14

Susan Mumford, the Executive Secretary for the State Records Committee, wrote to Jerry Dearinger (Legal Analyst) and Ken Cromar (Researcher) for Cedar Hills Citizens for Responsible Government (CHCRG) to inform that a Hearing has been granted for April 10, 2014.  (see PDF of letter below)

The Hearing would address our concerns regarding the City’s DENIAL of our revised GRAMA Request as submitted December 9, 2013, and APPEALS for email / text records.

CHCRG has attempted three times to invite City officials to meet with the State Records Ombudsman in mediation in order to avoid the need to request a Hearing before the Records Committee.  The City insisted that they would not meet or answer our questions through the Ombudsman until we filed an Appeal.  Despite filing the Appeal, the Mayor then prepared a list of preconditions before he would allow city officials to meet with us.

We have provided a written response, and trust that the Mayor & Council will see the value of meeting in mediation with the Ombudsman, and find a mutually beneficial resolution.

If so, we can cancel the Hearing. If not, then the Mayor and Council may again choose to again spend thousands of dollars in legal fees in order to collect the $900 they currently demand.  (During the 2012 Hearing before the Records Committee resulted in the City being ORDERED to collect and provide email records from city and personal account, and provide them to CHCRG, during which city officials reportedly chose to spend over $30,000 in order to collect $766.)

We believe negotiations with the Ombudsman will better serve the interest of Cedar Hills taxpayers and the release of public records to CHCRG, so we can then in turn share them on this website, — in the public interest.

 

To read the full letter from the Records Committee see… Records Committee Grants CHCRG Hearing 7Mar2014

 

CHCRG files APPEAL requesting Hearing before State Records Committee

Written By: admin - Feb• 21•14

APPEAL TO UTAH STATE RECORDS COMMITTEE

 

February 21, 2014

 

Utah State Records Committee

c/o Susan Mumford

346 South Rio Grande Street

Salt Lake City, Utah  84101

smumford@utah.gov

 

RE:    Request by Cedar Hills Citizens for Responsible Government for State Records Committee Hearing, due to non-compliance by the City of Cedar Hills with State Code requiring that they allow “…the public’s right of access to information concerning the conduct of the public’s business;…”, and “inspect free of charge”, public email and other records.

 

Ms. Mumford,

Thank you for allowing Cedar Hills Citizens for Responsible Government the opportunity to officially request a Hearing before Utah State Records Committee at their next possible meeting.

We apologize in advance for the quality of this Appeal.  We hastily drafted it after expending great amounts of time to attempting to negotiate and compromise with the city, so far that attempt has failed.  Our third invitation yesterday through the State Records Ombudsman Rosemary Cundiff to meet City officials with her as a mediator has not yet met with a response, — nor did we received a response to our acceptance of a City Councilman’s Rob Crawley’s proposal that would help us avoid the need to submit this Appeal.

Therefore, we file this request for a Hearing, seeking your indulgence if we find the need to alter or append to this Appeal at a later date.  Please be aware that despite this Appeal, we will continue to seek mediation through the Ombudsman hoping that the city will offer a legal option to avoid the Hearing, and tens of thousands spent by city in legal fees in order to collect $900.  We thank you in advance.

Introduction:

Our December 9, 2013 GRAMA request was denied twice; December 20, 2013 and January 22, 2014, exhausting our Appeals to the City of Cedar Hills.  Therefore we APPEAL to the Utah State Records Committee with a request for Hearing for the following reasons:

We, Cedar Hills Citizens for Responsible Government, believe the City of Cedar Hills improperly refused us our legal request to “inspect free of charge” in accordance with our Constitutional guaranteed, “…public’s right of access to information concerning the conduct of the public’s business;…”, and the State Code designed to “…promote the public’s right of easy and reasonable access to unrestricted public records;…”.  The City did this by stating the need for an expensive “compilation” processes we did not request, in order to charge fees specifically designed to discourage our effort to review the public record, electronically copy portions or all, and share those finding with residents via our www.CedarHillsCitizens.org website.

Because the City is abusing their power and the legal process by unnecessarily altering the public records from the form as “maintained” by the City Recorder with “30-hours” of printing / “compiling” / photocopying records thus incurring fees of “at least” $900 — this Appeal is not the same as previously Heard by the Committee in 2012.  Therefore, a Hearing before the Utah State Records Committee is hereby respectfully requested.

.

For PDF of entire letter of APPEAL click… APPEAL to State Records Committee for Hearing

Misleading “State of the City Report” – Analysis pt.1

Written By: admin - Nov• 04•13

“State of the City Report – 2013” -  by Cedar Hills City official mailed to residents

.

Analysis Part One: Provided by Financial Experts/Advisers from CEDAR HILLS CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT

CHCRG’s Financial experts have reviewed the “State of the City Report” and found it disappointing.  So much is missing that should have been published.  It’s like being an investor or share holder, and getting a fancy report that leaves out the most critical information necessary to determine whether our enterprise is profitable or not.  But the Report’s pictures sure are pretty!  Being partially transparent is not transparent at all.  

Here’s our CHCRG Financial Advisors expert review and commentary.  Follow along with a copy of the report at http://www.cedarhills.org/sites/default/files/state-of-the-city-report-2013.pdf :

  • City is finally recognizing that Cedar Hills’ residents are paying the highest property tax rate in North Utah County.  However, the attempt to recast it by normalizing the tax rates by the number of residents is totally misleading. Due to the demographics, Cedar Hills has a young population and therefore many residents per household.  Dividing tax rates by the number of residents is totally bogus.  Property taxes are calculated on the value of each residence, not the number of people in the residence.  Shame on the City for twisting around statistics to try to portray an erroneous perspective.
  • Transferring the events revenues and expenses out of the golf course fund is a step in the right direction (recommended a year ago).  Unfortunately the actual financial status of the events business is still not transparent as it is now hidden in the general fund.
  • Glad to see that the “grill” was shut down.  Sammy’s is a for-profit business and the only reason they would agree to operate out of the Golf Course Club House would be if the rents they would pay the City would allow them to be profitable.  Thus the question: are the rents being charged Sammy’s covering the actual capital and operating cost of the use of the building space?  If the rents do not cover the actual costs, then the citizens of Cedar Hills are subsidizing Sammy’s.
  • City admits general fund transfer to cover losses not covered by property tax.  Now the transfer will not be disguised as a loan and hidden by an obscure accounting manipulation.
  • The explanation that the budgeted revenues were over estimated and therefore lead to a higher losses because budgeted subsidy was under estimated is misleading.  The golf course is losing more money than anticipated because not enough golfers are paying to golf in Cedar Hills.  It is not a budgeting problem.
  • Budgets do not provide an indication of the financial status of the City.  Residents should be given a summary of the audited financials that show the operating revenue and expenses along with all subsidies for all years, current and past.
  • Golf course financial details still add property tax subsidy to revenues.

For the complete analysis, please see this PDF… CHCRG Analysis of _State of the City Report 2013_.pt 1 of 2

.

Did you know? New development south of Walmart…

Written By: admin - Oct• 23•13

A group of citizens living around the Walmart area — not connected directly with CEDAR HILLS CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT — have been circulating the attached flyer, provided here as a public service.

The flyer begins as follows:

DID YOU KNOW?

About the proposed development south of Walmart?

Are you aware that a developer has proposed plans to build a 300 UNIT 5 STORY (600 residents age 55+) apartment complex at the roundabout?  The city code allows for a 35 ft w story building height, but that’s for buildings that are not set back far from the sidewalk.  Sine this building will be set back, this restriction doesn’t apply.  It will be HUGE!  No privacy or view for those who live around it.

 

To read the complete flyer click this PDF…

CH Development Did you Know flyer and map

 

.

Attempt to Negotiate on GRAMA request was rejected by City

Written By: admin - Oct• 22•13

Friday, October 18, 2013 a conference call requested by Cedar Hills Citizens for Responsible Government (CHCRG) was facilitated by Utah State Archives Ombudsman Rosemary Cundiff to negotiate possible options on fulfillment of our GRAMA request for emails & texts.

The follow-up email was sent yesterday, Monday Oct. 21st, to Rosemary Cundiff, CH City Recorder Colleen Mulvey, CH Attorney Eric Johnson, and CHCRG legal adviser Jerry Dearinger.  The email was also CC-ed to the CH Mayor, Council and City Manager and a few CHCRG members.

We hope the negotiations may resume, therefore, we will not provide further details for now.

 

Rosemary, Ms. Mulvey, Jerry, and Mr. Johnson,

Thank you all for being willing to attempt a negotiation via Friday afternoon’s phone conference, under the capable guidance of Utah State Records Ombudsman Rosemary Cundiff.  Much appreciated.

We look forward to the follow-up information and research from Rosemary, which will help us, Cedar Hills Citizens for Responsible Government, determine how we may want to proceed.  Our understanding is that the City is not interested in negotiating timing, content, quantity or delivery approach of our October 1st GRAMA request, instead suggesting that we file a new GRAMA request.

While disappointed, we also know we have no control over the City’s decision nor expenditure of legal fees that City officials may choose or not choose to incur as Cedar Hills Citizens for Responsible Government seeks to obtain the public record.  We believe that providing the public documents clearly serves the public interest and should be provided for free, as encouraged, under Utah State Code.   As done last year, once the public record is obtained we intend to share and publish it for the public.  We hope the Records Committee will not be required to make this decision on this again, but recognize that as a possibility.  Nevertheless, we will do what is necessary for public record transparency in Cedar Hills.

We believe that a public record that is properly maintained and easily accessible to the public, not only protects the taxpayers from potentially bad government action, but it also protects the government officials from their own questionable decisions by just knowing the public may ultimately become aware of their words and deeds.  Good, easily accessible public records are a protection.  Everyone benefits by records transparency!

In the meanwhile, may we offer some help on one item?  There was some apparent confusion on if we had ever put a “litigation hold” on CH records.  I think the response from the City was we, “don’t know what you’re talking about,” said more than once.  Below is information, as originally sent May 7, 2012 and subsequently provided to a number of other officials, that may help refresh our collective memory.

We respectfully remind the City, not knowing if the City attorney immediately advised all the parties named in our October 1, 2013 GRAMA request, that because of the GRAMA request as well as the “litigation hold”, that City records, currently maintained by the City Recorder or not, — cannot lawfully be destroyed.  We trust all have been properly advised.

Thanks again for at least being willing to talk.  We will attempt to keep this “open door” negotiation option open as long as possible.

Respectfully,

Ken Cromar
Researcher for…
CEDAR HILLS CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT

 

.

$2,320 Public Records Ransom?

Written By: admin - Oct• 15•13

The City has responded to the GRAMA request by Cedar Hills Citizens for Responsible Government (CHCRG) with a fee demand of $2,320, possibly more.

This is unacceptable.

.

In our GRAMA request we reminded the City, “…According to Utah Code 63G-2-201:

Right to inspect records and receive copies of records.
(1)  Every person has the right to inspect a public record free of charge,
and the right to take a copy of the public record during normal working hours,…

(see GRAMA request PDF… 10-1-13 GRAMA Request – Cedar Hills Citizens for Responsible Governement )

 

The City responded, “The records you request are not kept or maintained by the City in the organization or format you desire.  Without compiling records, the City cannot provide any documents.”   (see City Response to GRAMA request PDF… Response to GRAMA Request dated October 1, 2013 )

What a strange response to a simple request.  We did not “desire” or request the public records in any format or organization — simply “as is” in whatever form the City keeps them — we don’t care.  Our request  reads:

  • “To be perfectly clear, this is NOT a request that the city organize, compile, format, manipulate, package or tailor the email and text records in any manner whatsoever…  Simply an inspection [of] the records as they are maintained.”

What part of “as they are maintained” does the City not understand?  Does the City have the emails as required by law?  Then, that’s the form we want to review them in – as is!  If they want the attorney to review them, that is their choice, but State Code doesn’t allow the City to charge the requester for legal review.  If the City has the email records they are supposed to, a simple word-search would allow them to find the GRAMA requested emails almost instantly.  We’re trying to keep it simple and free.  The City seems to have other objectives.

Why is it so easy for City officials to so quickly spend other people’s money?

City Council Candidate Rob Crawley (a CFO and former CPA) has attempted to negotiate a solution between CHCRG and CH City officials.  Unsuccessful, he requested a written response:

 

Rob,

Thank you for your generous offer to negotiate between CH City officials and our Cedar Hills Citizens for Responsible Government.  It is very kind of you to brave these waters and try to help.  We, in our group, are reasonable people, and hence have been willing to consider any written counter-offer by the City of CH to our lawful GRAMA request.  You have explained that the City is not willing to do this.

New actions on the part of the City, via their written response to our GRAMA request now make your efforts a mute point.  The City claims in their letter that our GRAMA request would take 80 hours to fulfill, possibly more, and want to charge $2,320 at $29/ hour.  This is unacceptable.

Therefore, this morning, I contacted the Utah State Archive Ombudsman to request her help to contact the City Recorder to ask to request a private phone conference.  The City agreed to my request through her, and we will be talking later this week.  As I said, we are reasonable people — simply seeking what is supposed to be an existing Public Record available for anyone to review.  (BTW, we similarly requested the Ombudsman’s help last year.)

You may quote me on the Forum if you choose, but only in whole, never in part.  Thanks in advance.

As you would understand, it would be inappropriate and unwise of us to say anymore regarding this issue for public consumption.

Thanks for Your Courageous & Noble Attempt,

 

Ken Cromar – Researcher for…

CEDAR HILLS CITIZENS FOR RESPONSIBLE GOVERNMENT

 

 

 

Money Decision is 100% in hands of City – not CHCRG

Written By: admin - Oct• 14•13

“Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys. “ ~P.J. O’Rourke

 

If the trend holds consistent, sometime tomorrow, – at the very end of the 10-day period allowed for the City to respond to our new GRAMA request for email & text message Records – the City will tell Cedar Hills Citizens for Responsible Government (CHCRG) how they will provide the documents.  The City has no choice.  The good news is that State law requires them to provide the Public Record to anyone who asks.  Where they do have a choice though, is on how much it will cost taxpayers.

In advance of their response to our GRAMA request tomorrow, we thought it might be helpful to encourage the City to avoid choosing to again unnecessarily waste taxpayer money in legal fees.  (“$30,000” last time, though we believe probably much more.)

There are two main approaches they can choose;  the 1.) FREE way, or the 2.) EXPENSIVE way.  We recommend the FREE way.

Please remember, CHCRG has ZERO power or influence over how the City chooses to obey the law and expend taxpayer funds.   City spending decisions are 100% in the hands of the Mayor & Council who “hold the purse-strings” on all financial decisions through their votes on the Council.

Here are some cost-saving reasons why we believe THE CITY SHOULD WANT to provide CHCRG the Public Record for FREE:

#1 – Newspapers comments.

Last year, City leadership was publicly chastised for not providing public documents for free, and a number of other errors, saying that, “…Disclosure is precisely in the public interest”.   See…

SL Tribune & Daily Herald come to our defense!

 

#2  – List of Emails exposed on CHCRG.

Remember: These emails are in their words, — not ours.  These are Public Record business issues your City leadership thought you would never know about, and tried to stop you from having this information.  Why?  The reasons may become clear when you read what they wrote:

Secret Emails Exposed – #1 “Throw existing Council under the bus”

Secret Emails Exposed – #2 Former Mayor Brad Sears involved?

Secret Email Exposed – #3 Smoking gun – “Korihor soldier”

Secret Email #4 – Mayor: “Beer Tavern license”, -but “after the election”

Secret Email #5 – Councilmen Gary Gygi & Scott Jackman proposed $5/month tax increase

 

#3 – CHCRG has and continues to applaud Council-woman Jenney Rees

We are grateful for her when she has shown, “…strong championing of the voice of many residents who are in favor of true open, honest and transparent government, especially on controversial items like the city facilitating alcohol service and expenditures over $400,000 without full-disclosure…”.   In other words, when anyone is fighting in behalf of “open, honest and transparent” government to protect Cedar Hills families and finances, WE ARE ON THE SAME TEAM.:

Council Breaks Laws Again! Votes for alcohol in “Family Rec Center”

(See our support of Council-woman Jenney Rees’ championing of truth, also documented in “Emails Exposed #1” above.)

 

#4 – Get your copy of the previous 6000+ pages GRAMA request from CHCRG for FREE.

Though the City charged us $766, we won’t charge you anything.   Just ask for your free copy via email at Info@CedarHillsCitizens.org or click at end of this email…

“CH lawyer blames his high legal bill on citizen group”

 

In conclusion:  The public being able to have easy access to the Public Record is not about Cedar Hills Citizens for Responsible Government, or about Ken Cromar (who serves as one of our Researchers), or anyone else.  It’s all about “open, honest and transparent” government.

The Daily Herald Editorial Staff summed it best when they wrote in their defense (see subject 1. above) :

“The city should welcome Cromar’s effort [in behalf of CHCRG] to clear the air, even if it views him personally as an annoying and unwelcome antagonist.  This isn’t about Cromar: It’s about shining light fully on a difficult period in city history.

“In that sense, disclosure is precisely in the public interest.  Mayor Gygi should step above perceptions of petty politics and recognize that.”

We agree with the Daily Herald!  We also believe that most people in Cedar Hills will agree too – IF they are allowed to access to the facts.

As mentioned above, there are two main approaches; 1.) the FREE way, or the 2.) EXPENSIVE way.   We, at Cedar Hills Citizens for Responsible Government strongly encourage the City choose to save taxpayer money, quickly be “open, honest & transparent” by immediately providing the Public Record for FREE.

Providing the Public Record will better serve the public interest in open government, it will protect City Officials who act honestly and honorably, and also save taxpayer tens and tens dollars in needless legal bills.

This financial choice is 100% in the hands of the Mayor & Council – not CHCRG.

 

 

“The lady doth protest too much…”

Written By: admin - Oct• 12•13

Shakespeare’s Hamlet:  “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.

Apparently a City Council woman is very unhappy about the fact that Cedar Hills Citizens for Responsible Government (CHCRG) would make a new request the City to provide Public Records for free.  We’re told that she has typed many words and accusations about the matter at www.aboutcedarhills.org

Last year, CHCRG made a GRAMA request asking for an electronic copy of ALL emails between Mayor, City Council members and the City Manager – from whatever email account City or Personal.

Ooops! City Officials weren’t doing all their City business on their City email accounts.  Some subjects were dealt with on their personal accounts.   Now, this isn’t against the law, — but only IF they provide copies back to the City Record as part of the Public Record.  They did not – and it took an ORDER by the Utah State Records Committee to get them to do it.

Apparently, the Mayor, Council and City Manager thought no one would ever see these emails. Unfortunately for them, the City Manager himself made a silly mistake.  He wrote an email complaining one of our CHCRG member’s GRAMA request for records about his princely pay, and generous personal perks which totaled over $155,000 /year.  His mistake was that he sent the email to the Mayor and Council’s personal email addresses, and in an apparent effort to ridicule and intimidate her – “CC-ed” it to her.  That was a big mistake.  That’s when we wondered, well, if there was one “off record” email exchange using their personal email accounts, could there be more?

Oh, there was more alright!. A lot more!  Thousands of pages more.

The City likes to attempt to intimidate and ridicule CHCRG by trumpeting that our GRAMA request cost taxpayers “$30,000”.  We don’t believe it.  We think they spent a whole lot more.   (Possibly as much as the $120,000 in attorneys fees over 18 months.  We don’t know the exact amounts because the City wouldn’t provide the details.)  The City claims that the reason they fought to make sure we paid $766 in GRAMA request compilation fees was because they considered the request for my – Ken Cromar – personal benefit rather than for the benefit of the public.

The law in Utah State Code 63G-2-203, states that…

(4) A governmental entity may fulfill a record request without charge and is encouraged to do so when it determines that:
(a) releasing the record primarily benefits the public rather than a person;

So, here’s the obvious question that should be asked:  “What intelligent, frugal, true guardian of taxpayer dollars thinks it wise to spend $30,000 (or more) to collect $766?”

In the end, the City Officials lost.  The Utah Records Committee ORDERED the City to collect the email records, – and to provide them to CHCRG.  (State Law required the City to keep City business emails sent on personal email accounts with the City Recorder, but they chose not to until they were ORDERED to do so.)

So, now that we have made a second request for similar email records and texts now, the appointed-Mayor and Council are acting surprised and upset, and trying to propagandize the issue into making us look bad for asking for the public record.

Doesn’t this remind you of Washington DC funding shut-down of the WW2 Memorial so 90-year old veterans in wheelchairs can’t see their own memorial, — but then hypocritically spending much more money to fence it off, and put guards around it to stop folks from getting in?

We, at Cedar Hills Citizens for Responsible Government, have a few questions for the Council and City Staff:

1.  What are the appointed Mayor & Council trying to hide this time?

2.  Did the Council not learn anything from the last GRAMA request for public records?

3.  Did they not anticipate that there might be future request to similarly see the Public Record – and hence pre-sort their emails as they go?

4.  Did any of them read the 6,000+ pages of email records that Utah State Records Committee ORDERED the Council to provide to us at CHCRG?

5.  Does the current Council support the things that were written in those emails and think it appropriate that City official were trying to illegally withhold or hide public record in this literal/actual proven conspiracy?

6.  Do they not realize that we at CHCRG are trying to help them be “open, honest and transparent”, whether they want to be or not – for the sake of protecting CH taxpayers dollars?

7.  Do they not think that there will be additional future GRAMA requests to obtain the Public Record?

 

The appointed-Mayor and Council, and their handsomely paid attorney, made another miscalculation.  Despite their charging us $766 for our copy of the records we obtained via our GRAMA request, you can your own copy, FREE of charge, for the asking via email request to…  Info@CedarHillsCitizens.org

Yes, it appears, “The lady [and Council] doth protest too much…!