Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Guest View ~ Mike Zinkin: The Case of the Missing Documents

Council Reports and Council Forwards are MIA
Now that I am no longer a town council member, but just a "lowly" citizen, it has been more difficult to get information from the town without some persistence. For example, a couple of months ago, I requested to be copied on all "Council Reports" and "Council Forwards" beginning on November 16, 2016 (the date that the new council took office.) I was initially told that the town’s software system was not equipped to manage continuing future requests. I persevered and offered alternatives for dispensing the information. The Town eventually acquiesced and improved their online document management system, promising to upload the reports to the Town website as they became available.

However, weeks went by and only one report was posted. Believe it or not, since November 16th, there has been only one Council Report and there have been no Council Forwards at all despite the fact that they used to come out every Friday. One wonders…is the town dispensing information to the council via other avenues in order to avoid publishing the information on the Town website?

Possible Open Meeting Law Violation
On December 16th, I asked the Town Clerk how the information was passed to the Council regarding recent staff promotions within the Oro Valley Police Department. The Town responded that the announcement was made at the CVAP (Citizens Volunteer Assistance Program) reception on December 13th in which all of Town Council was in attendance. Legally, when four or more members of council are present at any meeting or town function, a “Notice of Quorum” must be posted on the town website in order to comply with Open Meeting Laws. I checked the Town website and there was no such announcement that a quorum of council members would be present at the CVAP reception.

I brought this to the town’s attention and was told that Notices of Quorums were automatically deleted from the website once the event has passed. I advised the Town that the website currently contains three years’ worth of quorum notices dating from Dec. 3, 2016 all the way back to 2014. None of these notices were deleted after the event had passed. It seems suspicious that the notice for December 13th is the only one that was “automatically deleted.”

A picture’s worth a thousand words
Click below to see some of the Notices of Quorums from 2014 through 2016. These were taken from the Town website. The December 13th CVAP Reception notice is conspicuously absent.