Ludington City Councilor at-large Kaye Holman had a couple stacks of papers at her side and made a speech at the Monday 8-13-2012 Ludington City Council meeting. It was directed at yours truly and the Freedom of Information Act, well mostly at me. Since I couldn't say anything at the meeting, I include my commentary in red here. Her diatribe begins after the 26:00 mark.
"Everyone is asking me what the papers are for [I knew it was going to be part of a visual aid.] Tom, thanks for coming [you're welcome is what I would say if I had the opportunity to speak, but as per the rules of order, I would have to sit mute for the rest] These two stacks of papers constitute about 90% of all the FOIAs that we have had to copy, to send to Tom, because of his Freedom of Information [Note: I have had about 30-40 copies sent to me in total, all paid for without any indigency bonus. I ask to 'inspect' the records, which generally requires no copies to be made, they generally have opted to send it scanned to me via E-mail. About half of the two stacks were from my one FOIA described in "Innerview with a Vamper"]
Now I believe in Freedom of Information, what that means is, yes, you can ask for it and yes we will give it to you, unless it is an open thing such as we have had lately with the Fetters and a couple of other things we just simply can't [I haven't asked the City for anything regarding the Fetters' shooting, the two investigation records I have asked for, they surely can and must if they follow the law When open governments...] However, these are the originals of the copies that Tom has gotten [correction: over 98% that Tom has either inspected or received electronic images of.] We have approximately $6500 in fees, $6500 in fees, but you get a credit if you're indigent (point, smirk), you get a $20 credit (point, smirk) if you're indigent [the $6500 is an arbitrary figure they get when they add in illegal costs such as attorney fees. I have paid for all the material that I have inspected or received. I really appreciate you dissing indigent people interested in why their government is doing corrupt acts, Ms. Holman. Maybe next meeting I'll point to you, smirk and say wealthy, and repeat myself.]
You have approximately 150 hours included in this which includes time for the people who work here, that have to take time from their day [... to do their official duty of providing records via FOIA]. Now consider if you're a minimum wage employee, which is..., I don't even know what minimum wage is now [$7.40 an hour, do your homework, Kaye] , say you make $10 an hour, and you spend 3 hours a day, 5 days a week, that's 15 hours, that's $150 that the City is paying someone to make these copies [again, if copies are being made, they are not following my request to either inspect or receive scanned images].
And I'm sorry, but I consider this a fishing expedition [your speech?]; I think it is done to harass the City [your speech?!]; and I truly believe that or I wouldn't be standing up here [giving your speech?]. We copy actual records [when they don't need to], we have time, we have 100 of staff hours, close to a thousand of staff hours [quick math fact: 1000 hr. X $10/hour minimum wage = $10,000 minimum for these, a bit more than her arbitrary $6500 figure earlier-- is the City paying under minimum wage? Hardly.] since this whole mess was started.
We have... this is approximately two feet, three feet, something (pointing to stack). Normally, we get 4-6 FOIA requests per year (hand wave, repeated). Here we are. Attorney fees are included in this; now we do pay our City Attorney, our City Attorney is on a retainer but if he's working, and we're having to go to him with many of these if not all [let's ask ourselves why the City uses the $185/hour CA to gauge how best to dodge giving out information for most of their responses.] Most of them-- OK so if we're paying him X amount of dollars per year [$40,000 plus $185/hr. for special projects] and I don't have those figures [I do.] and I'm not going to give you one [I can.] If we're paying him X amount of dollars and he's having to take part of that time, and he's taking that time over a course of a year, 40 hours a week, I don't know [I do, its about 7 hrs a week, 28 hrs per month.], which is what most of us work, but because he's got to play with this mess (flourish at the papers), he's now working 50 hours a week [hmm, my less than one FOIA request per week causes the City Attorney to work 10 extra hours that week. Wow, I had no idea...]
Don't you think, don't you think, that he's gonna say "You aren't paying me enough." [$185 an hour is plenty for these special projects.] There we are again with the money. It's costing the City a lot for Tom to go fishing [and I don't even have a marina slip under surveillance by the City!] I have no idea what he uses them for [read the Ludington Torch and find out, Kaye, or curse the darkness.], I don't care [I do], I don't know [I do know], I'm sure he's not going to tell me [tell you what Kaye, I will go through my whole list of City FOIA requests next meeting and tell you exactly what I was fishing for, the reason I was fishing, and show you the fish I caught, and even the ones that got away. I'll need more than five minutes however...]
But I'm having a real hard time with this and that's why, because of this (points to papers), and this isn't all of it; John Shay has them all laid out on his counter and I didn't want to mess up his counter any more [... than I did at the last office party.] The dollar rate will go up, hourly we're paying these people, and again I don't know what the average hourly rate is here [I do, once again thanks to FOIA], we'll pick the $10 figure [for City Hall workers, guess again, the lowest clerk goes for over $15, the City manager around $70 per hour].
Right back to paying and paying and paying and I frankly don't have any idea what Tom is doing with these [could it be exposing the corrupt City in action, Kaye?] , other than one of my favorite phrases (mumble) the tail is trying to wag the dog [this idiom means: An item of minor importance dominating a situation-- I don't get it either]. And I resent that deeply, I resent that DEEPLY [I still don't get it either, even with her repeating it.]
I'm going to be here for two more years [knock on wood] and I'm probably not going to shut up (fit of cackling). Those of you that know me, know that I take it very seriously, very, very seriously [why?], and I don't intend to stop talking about it [but I'm restricted to five minutes, is that fair?] and if I bring more of these out (points to papers) I will [no, puh-leeze not again, have mercy], because I believe it is only fair that (mumble) other than costing the City and its... it's not me, I'm a taxpayer, you're all taxpayers also, right? Everybody in this room and the people watching are all taxpayers, we're paying for this, we're paying and paying and paying [there goes her paying ramble again], and I have to say again, I resent that deeply. Thank you
So did you say anything during your turn to speak?
Yes, Jane, you can find Mr. Rotta's comment at the 4:05 mark. Mr. Rotta spent the bulk of his time scrutinizing the elimination of the lifeguard program, and subsequent implimentation of the beach patrol. You may be interested in hearing the reponse to Mr. Rotta's comments, starting first at the 31:15 mark, in which the Chief of Police debunks some of the nonsense that Mr. Rotta had earlier spoken, and extending to the 34:40 mark, in which the Mayor further corrects the erroneous statements Mr. Rotta had made and explains how the beach has never been safer than it is today with the beach patrol.
I missed that explanation, Jmoney8, and I was there. He said it; you took it as "the truth" without any sort of explanation. Also, instead of noting I had erroneous statements and nonsense without saying exactly what was erroneous or nonsense, shows you have little regard for what exactly is nonsense and erroneous.
Ms. Holman came up and gave her speech with a lot of nonsense and erroneous statements-- I pointed it out above-- along with a lot of things she knew nothing about. All of which I know, because I do my research, and do more before I make a speech decrying a person's right to seek information. And bearing enmity at me because I'm indigent and will get a $20 deferment on the often illegally priced information. It's like Mayor Henderson not allowing me to speak on very technical points for my girlfriend when he knew that she had dyslexia. We're not rich, but we are citizens and deserve better treatment.
I didn't hear Kaye Holman address the wastes of the overspending of over $125,000 18 kt. gold signage from Nick to show the public where to park downtown, when everyone already knows where parking lots and city hall is, the James St. plaza fiasco of lawsuits from people tripping over dangerous bricks, the $1Million water tower painting that was scheduled 10 years ahead of time, the $1Million transient dockage at the City Marina that no locals use, and few transients use, the $400K being spent on a new Washington Ave. bridge to nowhere, when Henderson himself told the public the bridge was safe many times, the repeated nepotism policies at the city marina and elsewhere when other applicants from families around town are not even allowed to apply to those positions, the misplaced funds that pay for Friday Nite Live and other events pushed by minions like Venzke/Tykoski, the fired lifeguards that risked their lives for years to have a safe beach, and after their firings, the drownings that occurred three times in two consecutive years of recent, and much more too lengthy to address now, but already on file at the Torch archives. Kaye, you are an overblown grandstander sitting on a huge piece of lard, and are simply following your Honor's orders in this undiplomatic jesture of personal attacks to betray the truths from the public, nothing more.
In reply to his Honor's rebuttal on the lifeguard program being discontinued, he stated that the city was making a valued decision, based on a financial crisis within the city budget. How does spending more for a beach patrol of 2-3 people for $30K, save money over a 6-7 person lifeguard program that costs $22K? And how is the COL so poor, needing to save money, when they have a special savings fund that totals over $7Million in 2009, and now approaches over $9Million today? More LIES to deceive, and keep a warped agenda of current policy Mayor Henderson, and that is why you need to go, and not serve in this important office any longer. I could also add, where does spending $185/hr. for a city attorney team to squash Rotta FOIA's into the tens of thousands of dollars for depositions and court hearings save the public money? More LIES and deceit is all I have witnessed. You can lie and run Henderson, but you can't hide the TRUTH forever, and this Holman, is exactly what Rotta is doing with all these FOIA requests, nothing more nor less.
That's why I love these tongue-lashings by the city officials. Unless you're wearing a City of Ludington Daily News press pin, or are another city official you can poke holes through their arguments all day. They're specious, illogical, and disproved often by their own records. And they're on camera, so you can do it later, when you're away from the oppressive city-state atmosphere of the City Council meeting.
Excellent posts Aquaman, I couldn't have said it better.
Did you notice that sour look on her face and the contempt in her voice when she said 'indigent' twice? I sure did when I was there, and I took silent umbrage with it, but non-verbally reacted with visceral disgust-- but I looked down the line of the city officials and they looked as if they took silent pleasure in her words.
If the City of Ludington was a Federal agency, I would be able to get FOIA responses absolutely free if I made them via my blog with the understanding that the material would be used for media-related purposes. In Ludington, FOIA Coordinator/City Manager John Shay tries to make a profit from FOIA, and he seems to want to charge the most for records that have the 'best stuff' in. Coincidence?
Holman's rant was not on the agenda, for it was meant solely for me if I showed up and stayed. She had said something at the end of the last meeting where I had shown up, told them why my FOIA appeal was legally sound and the FOIA coordinator's denial was against the law and court precedent, then left to attend the WMOM/MCP Candidate forum which was tons more entertaining than watching a bunch of pudgy egalitarians pat each other on the back, laugh at their own dumb jokes, wonder about my shirt choice, and vote to defy the laws of our state.
She had said at the end of that meeting she would have something for me if I came and stayed for the whole meeting. I thought it was going to be a lollipop-- I was soooo disappointed.
I was bored so I watched the video - I found Ms Holman's rant to be completely unprofessional, and unfitting of an elected council member. To point out a citizens indigent status really lacks class. Her only point seems to have been to embarrass you ( if she had truly wanted to enlighten the citizens of Ludington about the cost's incurred as a result of FOIA request's she would of taken the time to gather factual data not just pull random numbers out of the air) - so not what I would expect from a council member.
And I plan on going to Ludington City Council meetings for at least the next 12 months to make up for the time that I was banned from that building illegally, unless I have a conflict in my schedule. I've still got plenty to say, and only ten minutes a month to say it.
I was so used to them blaming me for doing things I haven't done, that I was surprised to hear them praise me at the end and crediting me for doing things I haven't done.
I didn't have the heart to tell them that the person sitting in front of me did the watering, I don't know what his name was though, LOL.