Stonewalling and Secrecy (OR, Why won’t the MSB release more information to the public?)

bricklayer

The Matanuska-Susitna Borough, compared to the State of Alaska and other boroughs and cities, puts very little information on its website.

The MSB does not have an online checkbook or share executive travel records like the State of Alaska.

The MSB doesn’t post any reports from its Internal Auditor like the Municipality of Anchorage.

The MSB’s Purchasing Officer used to be required to submit a monthly Informational Memorandum to the Assembly of all contracts awarded or amended each month which are $100K or less (contracts for more than that require Assembly approval)…However, I have not seen any of these IMs in the Assembly meeting packets lately.  Here is an example of one from 2011:

 

The MSB meeting packets are deleted from the website within 2 years (Assembly) or just a few months (boards).

Top Secret

Note: Even when the meeting packets are online, sometimes they are posted at the very last minute and/or are missing information, especially the Port Commission board meetings.  If you attend a meeting in person, there are often additional documents which never make it to the website.  These additional documents are not always available to the public.  Sometimes the additional documents are at the back of the room; sometimes they are not.  At every Assembly meeting, the Clerk inevitably states to the members:  Such and such information was provided in your folders.  These “folder” documents are never in the official meeting packets and they are never available to the public.

All RFPS and Bids are deleted almost as soon as they are awarded. (In contrast, the City of Palmer keeps winning bids listed for over 10 years.)

The MSB’s Press Release section is missing select old press releases.

A source tells me that all of this historical information is online and available for MSB employees to access, but the MSB chooses NOT to allow the public to have continuing access.

Assembly member Jim Sykes has been advocating for more transparency with little success so far.  He did manage to get the MSB to post its (basic, general) budgets online, something that was not done until he advocated for it!!

Thus, the only way to obtain certain information from the MSB is to do “Public Records Requests.”

However, the MSB does not always comply with records requests.  The MSB will give out some records but for other records, they will claim it will take them too much time (more than the 5 hour limit per citizen per month) and send a bill to the requester asking for a payment up front.

Note: A source told me recently that the MSB was “keeping me busy” with records such as the credit card records and employee reimbursement records, but they will never release the more important financial records to me. (I have no way to confirm this.) Further note: I have to pay $10 for most digital records – the cost of the thumb drives.

Here are some examples of the MSB charging high costs for records:

I asked for all Internal Audit reports.  The MSB said not until you pay $540.70:

 

Note: I doubt it would take the Internal Auditor more than one hour to copy all of his “Internal Audit” reports from his computer.

I asked for all TRAVEL RECORDS for the past three years.  The Travel Authorizations.  The MSB said – not until you pay us $971:

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I asked to review financial and contractual records.  I stated that I would come down to the MSB building to look at these records. No need for the MSB staff to pull the records for me or make copies.  The code allows the public to inspect records at no cost.  The MSB told me I still needed to pay $233.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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