Letter to City Officials Updated: Mayor Responds

Update: Mayor Povlsen responded to my letter. The e-mail exhange (so far) appears at the end of this post.

The city manager responded to the statements I made Monday at the Council meeting. Here is my reply:

Mr. Biernacki:

The Re:New DeKalb documents you mailed to me July 15, I assume in response to dissatisfaction expressed last Monday, are indeed copies of the same documents mailed earlier this year in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

However, as I stated at the July 13 council meeting, they are only a tiny portion of what I asked for.

Please note on the original FOIA I asked for two fiscal years’ worth of Re:New DeKalb documents specified in the contract between the City of DeKalb and Re:New. The bundle you sent contains only a few of the documents for only one of the years requested. There is also the issue of the meeting minutes. The only meeting minutes sent are the minutes from one meeting in which a Re:New budget was approved. The contract calls for Re:New to submit meeting minutes whenever a meeting is about use of city money. It is not specific to the amount allocated by the city but applies to TIF funds as well; therefore most, if not all, of Re:New DeKalb’s meeting minutes should be submitted by Re:New to the city within the specified time limit and accessible to citizens.

When I first sat down with our former city clerk and she read the original FOIA, her exact words were, “We don’t have anything like that.” It is difficult not to reach certain conclusions about how — or, more to the point, when — the documents she did send were obtained. However, my primary concern is that the Re:New and similar contracts are enforced as they should be. To this end I did inform my caseworker at the Attorney General’s office yesterday that I intend to submit a FOIA afresh and see what comes of it. Also, I will be submitting FOIAs for the same types of documents submitted by other agencies with the same contract provision.

Another area where the city’s enforcement seems to be lacking is the requirement for these agencies to follow the Open Meetings Act whenever use of city funds of any type are discussed, particularly the posting of board meeting schedules and agendas. Since Re:New, CVB, PET, etc., have websites this would be a very easy place to begin corrections. I hope that you will keep me informed of these improvements that I may help pass them on to the DeKalb Citizens for Transparency and other residents.

Thank you.

Yours truly,
[blah blah]

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Update: Mayoral exchange

Subject: Re: New DeKalb documents obtained via FOIA request
Date: Fri, 17 Jul 2009 10:43:07 -0500
From: KPOVLSEN@CITYOFDEKALB.com
To: dlmfazekas@msn.com
CC: Mark.Biernacki@CITYOFDEKALB.com

I will also follow up. I would really like to sit down with you sometime and learn just what the real issues you have with the city. I would like to be able to assure you that it is not an entity filled with corruption and secret activities to decieve its residents. Kris

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From: Fazekas Family (xxxxxxx@xxx.com)
Sent: Sun 7/19/09 10:49 AM
To: kris povlsen (kpovlsen@cityofdekalb.com)
Cc: mark biernacki (mark.biernacki@cityofdekalb.com)

Dear Mayor Povlsen:

I do not believe I’ve ever used the words “filled with corruption” or “secret activities.” I am entirely convinced, however, that the city is going backwards in some areas when it comes to openness and transparency and, as a citizen, I have a stake in this.

People who know me understand they can take what I say at face value. I would be glad to meet with you, but first you must understand this, too. It will do us no good if you approach the table with the assumption that I have ulterior motives.

Regards,
Lynn Fazekas
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