“There are no records responsive to this request.”

vintage office

This is the MSB’s new catch phrase.  It is how they are responding to many of my recent Public Records Requests.  No explanations. No specifics.  No apologies. Just – a one line response “There are no records responsive to this request.”

Here are my April records requests. The theme was CONSULTANTS.

April PRR

And here were the MSB’s responses to 3 of these 4 requests. I have not gotten a response yet for Request #1.

Apparently, NavNorth didn’t have any expenses (despite the fact that their contract allowed them to recoup expenses):

No records Responsive NavNorthNo Records Responsive NavNorth 2

Apparently, Robert Sheldon wasn’t hired as a consultant (despite the fact that he traveled to Tokyo Japan in 2015 with the MSB contingent) and also, the MSB won’t reveal any expenses paid for him (even though I already know the MSB paid for his plane ticket to Japan due to my credit card requests..I guess the MSB doesn’t want to admit they paid for his plane ticket and I guess the MSB didn’t pay for his food or lodging while he was in Japan.)

No Records Responsive Sheldon 1No REcords Responsive Sheldon 2

Apparently, the MSB doesn’t know anyone named AMY LUCAS. (She was listed in several credit card entries as some sort of consultant on Oil and Gas issues over the past few years…but I guess the MSB isn’t going to tell the public what she did for us.)

no Records Responsive Amy Lucas 1No REcords Responsive Amy Lucas 2

Why can’t we be more like Blaine, Minnesota?

It is often helpful to look to other communities to find out how their local governments are functioning.  How do other governments do things? Is our local gov’t doing the best job it could be doing?

Let’s take Blaine, Minnesota for example. It is a medium-sized city with a population of 57, 186 located close to the Twin Cities.

Here is their official government website.  It is an amazing website.  Crisp, clear, colorful, detailed, helpful, organized, etc.  It has special stand alone sections for Biz and Parks and Events and Safety Services etc.

https://www.blainemn.gov/

Blaine website

Why can’t the MSB’s website be a high quality production like Blaine’s website? We spend MILLIONS in our IT budget each year and our website is sub par. Plus we were hacked and had to spend millions to fix everything.  And we conveniently lost (cough cough) all of the Manager and Dept head’s emails and lots of financial info. It is maddening really.

Blaine has a gov’t structure similar to the MSB. 

Blaine 1

Blaine a

Look at how they organize their meetings.  Regular meetings are  held twice per month and Workshops are held three times per month.  Makes sense to me. (The MSB’s “workshops” are our Special meetings which are just called on an ad hoc basis.)

They use the same software as the MSB – Legistar.

Blaine Legistar

And they live stream and video record their meetings too but there is a huge difference here too in quality btw. Blaine & the MSB.

Blaine’s video recordings are crisp and clear; they have multiple cameras set up so you can see everyone who speaks – not just the elected officials; there are also close up views; and THE AUDIO SOUND QUALITY IS VERY GOOD.  Go take a listen.  So, the lucky public of Blaine, MN, can actually SEE AND HEAR their local gov’t meetings.

Blaine 3Blaine 4Blaine 5

GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY – This may make you cry if you (like me) have grown increasingly frustrated with the MSB’s utter lack of transparency. 

Blaine, Minnesota, publishes online (and their City Council approves) EVERY SINGLE EXPENDITURE.  Payroll/wire transfers and “Schedule of Bills” reports are presented at every single meeting. And they must be approved via the Consent Agenda.  This is oversight at work!

Blaine 6Blaine 7Blaine 8

And – LOOK AT THE QUALITY OF Blaine’s MEETING MINUTES – SO DETAILED! Here is an example from one of their Workshop meetings:

 

Blaine has an Economic Development Authority.  The Mayor is on this one. This is what the MSB needs too (instead of the Port Commission.)  And look – the BUDGET for their Econ Develop Authority has to be approved. Contrast this with how the MSB operates. Our Econ Development budget has “gone underground.” Seriously. It is hidden within the expenses for the Assembly and Administration. It is not separate. And good luck trying to get the MSB to release any records on how they specifically spent $ on econ development. (See my posts on NavNorth – the secret contract as an example.)

So, what Blaine, MN is doing here is a breath of fresh air and how the MSB should be operating too:

Blaine Econ DevBlaine Econ Dev 2Blaine Econ Dev 3

 

Back to Blaine’s website.  Look at how they present their elected officials in the main section for the City Gov’t. Fabulously done. Contact info; background info etc.

Click on any bio for “more info.”  Our website has very few details for our elected officials. Here is their Mayor’s page:

Blaine b 2

Note he is on various COMMITTEES!  The MSB has no committees at all. (Oh sure sometimes we have an ad hoc committee such as the “Sneaky sales tax committee” or the upcoming “Police Powers committee,” but we don’t have regular, established gov’t sub committees.)

Now – this will blow you away – the MAYOR HOLDS OFFICE HOURS! No need to call or make an appointment.  Visits are done on a drop-in basis.

THIS IS FROM Blaine’s most recent Report/Newsletter which is issued bimonthly.  And look at this nice feature introducing the new council members.

Blaine 14

Honest to God, I have no idea what the MSB Public Affairs office is doing besides (endless, repetitive) Economic Development presentations (i.e. give us $ for the Port and Rail Spur – they can just cut and paste the same paragraphs and re-mix the same Power Point presentations over and over again) and the occasional press release, because they sure as heck don’t produce fabulous glossy reports like Blaine, Minnesota. (And um, our Manager’s reports don’t even come close to this type of quality work. Plus our Manager’s reports are posted so late that all of the info in them is stale.)

More pages from a recent Blaine City Connect report:

Look  – they have a regular photo contest:

Blaine 16

Look – they list all sorts of events and opportunities:

Blaine 17

AND LOOK AT THEIR WEBSITE SECTION ON LOCAL DEVELOPMENT/THE ECONOMY/Business News:

NOTE THE Amazing list of future and current development going on in Blaine. Why doesn’t the MSB do something like this? (Probably because the MSB is very secretive.)

Blaine 18Blaine 19

Seward Meridian Parkway Improvements Phase II, the 7-mile canoe trail, an ATV bridge, and color commentary

The Seward Meridian Parkway Improvements Project (Phase II), which will soon be underway, is on the agenda of the next MSB Parks, Recs and Trails Advisory board meeting.

This long-delayed project made for a lively discussion on the Mat-Su Valley News Facebook group yesterday.

A former MSB employee (Bill Klebesadel) provided some interesting color commentary and background history.  He was challenged by Cindy Bettine, a former Assembly member and current MSB Transportation Advisory Board member.

Seward BK 1Seward BK 2

More documents from the PRTAB meeting packet:

Seward PkwySeward Pkwy 2Seward Pkwy 4

Seward Pkwy 3

And even more documents:

Seward Pkwy email 4Seward Pkway email 3Seward Pkwy emailSeward Pkwy email 2Seward Pkwy email 5

Records? What records? (GPRA update)

The MSB signed a contract with Lifetime Adventures in December of 2017 to manage the GPRA ski chalet.

(Photo of high school students waxing skis during a race at GPRA this past winter.)

GPRA wax skis

Here is the contract:

GPRA Agreement with Lifetime Adventures 2017-12-28

Has Lifetime Adventures paid the $500 per month as agreed? Have they paid MSB the required 10% share of the event rental revenue?  Have they submitted monthly invoices setting forth the revenue collected?

Extremely doubtful…

Here are a series of Public Records requests and emails btw. this blogger and the MSB…Months of back and forth beginning on January 9th and finally, on March 29th, 2019, the MSB stated that they had “no records responsive” to my request for the GPRA-Lifetime Adventures financials.

JANUARY 9TH 2019 – My first request for the records:

GPRA Jan 9

GPRA Jan 9th 1 p.m.GPRA Jan 9th form ski club

I did not get any response from the MSB.

(Note: However, even though they couldn’t be bothered to respond to me – they did require Lifetime Adventures to keep the Chalet open during the evenings to accommodate the Jr. Nordic skiers. Look at the revision to the contract – the MSB is now “crediting” Lifetime Adventures $15 per hour for this.)

JANUARY 18TH – I sent a reminder:

GPRA Jan 18

FEBRUARY 1st – I sent a reminder.

GPRA Feb 1st

FEBRUARY 5th

I asked again in February as part of my monthly public records request. (For the past few months, I have been submitting monthly PRRs to the MSB. I am doing this because each member of the pubic gets 5 hours per month and this is a way for me to keep track of my requests and whether or not the MSB responds or claims I am over the time limit or tries to charge me etc.)

GPRA Feb 5thGPRA Feb 5th form

FEBRUARY 22nd – the MSB says they are working on gathering up the GPRA records.

GPRA Feb 22nd

March 4th – the MSB gives me some records – the management contract and all of the MEA records.

GPRA March 4th 1st email

FYI – here is an example of one of the MEA bills for the GPRA chalet:

GPRA MEA bill

MARCH 4th – My response to the MSB (Thank you but I need the financial records too.)

GPRA March 4th response

No answer from the Borough.

MARCH 5th – My email to MSB re: GPRA along with my March Public Records Requests:

GPRA March 5

MARCH 5TH – MSB to me – Here are some more records – the diesel fuel (heating) records.

GPRA March 5th response 3

FYI – here is an example of the (very spendy) heating costs for the GPRA chalet:

GPRA fuel

MARCH 5th – My response to MSB – Thank you but I WOULD REALLY REALLY APPRECIATE IT IF YOU WOULD SEND ME THE GPRA-LIFETIME ADVENTURE FINANCIAL RECORDS.

MSB – We are working on it.

GPRA March 5th response 4

Weeks go by.

(Perhaps the MSB thinks I will forget about this Public Records Request if they stall long enough. However, I am not going to forget about it.)

MARCH 25th – a Monday – I send a reminder:

GPRA monday march 25

 

Four more days go by and then finally at the end of the week  – the MSB replies.

FRIDAY, MARCH 29th – the MSB responds – they do not have any “records responsive” to my request:

GPRA Friday march 29

MY RESPONSE – WHAT IS THE SPECIFIC REASON YOU ARE NOT TURNING OVER THESE DOCUMENTS?

GPRA March 29th

And I have not received any response from the MSB re: this question.

This is what it is like trying to get information out of the MSB:

Tearing Hair out

 

 

Lisa Behrens accuses MSB legal team of Obstruction re: Human Resources materials & Deposition of HR Chief

Plaintiff Lisa Behrens filed a second “Motion for a Protective Order and Sanctions” as well as a related “Motion to Compel Production” in her lawsuit against the MSB on March 12, 2019.

In these motions, Ms. Behrens complains that the MSB legal team is interfering with her ability to depose witness Sonya Conant, the MSB’s Director of Human Resources.

The motion accuses the MSB of “repeated efforts to disrupt, delay, interfere with, and harass prosecution of Ms. Behren’s case. Two remarkably important depositions have been prevented: first, by (Perkins Coie Attorney) Jared Gardner’s witness tampering/intimidation (of Wm Gamble) and now by Ms. Ryman (Danielle Ryman, the Perkins Coie attorney/partner representing the MSB)’s self-initiated refusal to timely voice objections to deposition dates” for Ms. Conant’s deposition. “Ms. Ryman and her firm are playing games.”

Ms. Behrens is requesting an order from the court “which will allow Ms. Conant’s deposition freed of any consquence the defendants’ have previously orchestrated through their counsel.”

She is also requesting an order compelling the MSB to produce all material related to the MSB’s Human Resources’ investigation of Ms. Behrens’ HR complaint (following the MSB’s notice to her that they planned to terminate her employment.)

The MSB has not yet filed responses to these motions. (Their responses are not due yet.)

Update: The MSB did file a response – but the copy wasn’t in the file yesterday when I copied it.  The MSB has also filed a cross motion for sanctions.  (Why are the tax payers paying for all of this litigation?! )

cross motion

Herewith are the Plaintiff’s twin motions re: the HR witness and materials:

Scan_20190320

Scan_20190320 (2)Scan_20190320 (3)Scan_20190320 (4)Scan_20190320 (5)Scan_20190320 (6)Scan_20190320 (7)Scan_20190320 (8)Scan_20190320 (9)Scan_20190320 (10)Scan_20190320 (11)Scan_20190320 (12)Scan_20190320 (13)Scan_20190320 (14)Scan_20190320 (15)Scan_20190320 (16)Scan_20190320 (17)Scan_20190320 (18)Scan_20190320 (19)Scan_20190320 (20)Scan_20190320 (21)Scan_20190320 (22)Scan_20190320 (23)Scan_20190320 (24)Scan_20190320 (25)Scan_20190320 (26)Scan_20190320 (27)Scan_20190320 (28)Scan_20190320 (29)Scan_20190320 (30)Scan_20190320 (31)Scan_20190320 (32)Scan_20190320 (33)Scan_20190320 (34)Scan_20190320 (35)Scan_20190320 (36)Scan_20190320 (37)Scan_20190320 (38)Scan_20190320 (39)Scan_20190320 (40)Scan_20190320 (41)Scan_20190320 (42)Scan_20190320 (43)Scan_20190320 (44)

 

 

Lisa Behrens accuses MSB of threatening key witness in her lawsuit

Lisa Behrens, the former Deputy Director of EMS, who is suing the MSB for wrongful termination, is accusing the MSB of threatening a key witness in her lawsuit.

Ms. Behrens filed a Motion for a Protective Order and for Sanctions against the MSB on January 7th.  She claims that the MSB, through their contract attorneys – the law firm of Perkins Coie –  threatened and intimidated witness William F. Gamble, constructively preventing his deposition. Mr. Gamble signed a “legal settlement” (which they are terming a Non Disclosure Agreement) with the MSB in 2017.  According to Ms. Behrens’ Motion, Mr. Gamble has important (potentially dispositive) information relevant to her case.  Thus, her attorneys wanted to take his deposition.  However, Mr. Gamble was reluctant to participate in a deposition without either the MSB’s permission or a court order.  Ms. Behrens’ legal team tried repeatedly to no avail to get the MSB to inform Mr. Gamble that the NDA did not prevent him from sitting for the deposition.  Finally, on the morning of the deposition, the MSB’s Perkins Coie attorney called Mr. Gamble “threatening him should he testify in deposition.”

The MSB denies these accusations.

https://matsumuckraker.com/2018/08/04/former-msb-deputy-director-of-emergency-services-files-lawsuit-against-the-msb/

https://matsumuckraker.com/2019/02/12/the-gamble-settlement/

A two hour hearing on this motion is scheduled for Thursday, March 22nd, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in Palmer Superior Court.

Scan_20190319 (77)

Here is the Motion (with lots of exhibits), the MSB’s Opposition (with exhibits including an affidavit from MSB Atty Nick Spiropoulos), and the Reply.

Scan_20190319

Scan_20190319 (2)Scan_20190319 (3)Scan_20190319 (4)Scan_20190319 (5)Scan_20190319 (6)Scan_20190319 (7)Scan_20190319 (8)Scan_20190319 (9)

Scan_20190319 (10)Scan_20190319 (11)Scan_20190319 (12)Scan_20190319 (13)Scan_20190319 (14)Scan_20190319 (15)Scan_20190319 (16)Scan_20190319 (17)Scan_20190319 (18)Scan_20190319 (19)

Scan_20190319 (20)Scan_20190319 (21)Scan_20190319 (22)Scan_20190319 (23)Scan_20190319 (24)Scan_20190319 (25)Scan_20190319 (26)Scan_20190319 (27)Scan_20190319 (28)Scan_20190319 (29)

Scan_20190319 (30)Scan_20190319 (31)Scan_20190319 (32)Scan_20190319 (33)Scan_20190319 (34)Scan_20190319 (35)Scan_20190319 (36)Scan_20190319 (37)Scan_20190319 (38)Scan_20190319 (39)

Scan_20190319 (40)Scan_20190319 (41)Scan_20190319 (42)Scan_20190319 (43)Scan_20190319 (44)Scan_20190319 (45)Scan_20190319 (46)Scan_20190319 (47)Scan_20190319 (48)Scan_20190319 (49)

Scan_20190319 (50)Scan_20190319 (51)Scan_20190319 (52)Scan_20190319 (53)Scan_20190319 (54)Scan_20190319 (55)Scan_20190319 (56)Scan_20190319 (57)Scan_20190319 (58)Scan_20190319 (59)

Scan_20190319 (60)Scan_20190319 (61)Scan_20190319 (62)Scan_20190319 (63)Scan_20190319 (64)Scan_20190319 (65)Scan_20190319 (66)Scan_20190319 (67)Scan_20190319 (68)

Scan_20190319 (69)Scan_20190319 (70)Scan_20190319 (71)Scan_20190319 (72)Scan_20190319 (73)Scan_20190319 (74)Scan_20190319 (75)Scan_20190319 (76)