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3/19/2007

Mendham: Town Stuff: The Next Council Meeting: 3/19/2007
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By 07. 07. on Monday, March 19, 2007 - 8:12 am:
"Public comment" Questions to be asked of the Borough Council at the March 19th meeting:

Despite the reasonable request I made, at the previous meeting, to have my questions and comments fairly answered in a manner consistent with the response the average citizen could expect, you have again chosen to answer my simple questions with obvious non-responsive evasion. Afforded no alternative under this circumstance, I will redundantly rephrase the questions, and more precisely point them, until they receive the reasonably honest answer they deserve.

1) At the last meeting I asked the council:
Through what rationale does the council justify charging what the law describes as the "not to exceed maximum" per page copying fee, when even the town's own lawyers charge 15 times less for the same service?

Attorney FRED SEMRAU unanswered the question for the council with the statement "we're looking into that". For public edification the town government has been using this 4 word evasion for over seven years now. The law clearly states that "actual cost" is to be determined excluding labor. Including labor, and all the expenses that go with running a commercial enterprise, the free-market price for a "black-and-white" copy is something under 5 a copy. By charging 15 times in excess of that fair market price the council creates "an appearance" of willful exploitation, and deliberate intention to diminish access to public information.

In light of the facts, and the obvious "appearance problem", I again ask the individual members-of-the-council to rationally justify, through articulated explanation, their individual willful decisions to charge what the law describes as the "not to exceed maximum" per page copying fee, when even the town's own lawyers (as a profession not revered for their devotion to fair pricing) charge 15 times less for the same service?
[pause for answers]

2) At the last meeting I again inquired: "if the council has any concern regarding the Regional Board of Education's refusal to ever publicly disclose what capital projects were canceled, (as promised) to fund the voter approved $2 million transfer of funds?

Council President Murphy chose to answer for the council with the claim that "The Regional Board of education acts independently of the council and makes its own decisions."

I would counter by pointing out that, State government agencies act independently of the council, yet the council shows no apprehension regarding publicly voicing in its opinion of agency action and policy, and fully exercising its power of protest when necessary. I would also point out that your attorney has verified the fact that there is no legal impediment preventing the council from voicing opinions, or exercising proper investigatory authority, regarding actions of the school board. So I again ask the individual members of the town council if they are at all concerned regarding the, $40 million in debt, Regional Board of Education's refusal to publicly disclose what capital projects were canceled, (as was promised to the voters) to fund the voter approved $2 million transfer of funds?
[pause for answers]

3) I would ask the council to respond to the reasonable observation that there seems a gross inefficiency in selling surplus (fuel inefficient firetrucks) to buyers in Nebraska. I would also question the real urgency of the need for a new half million dollar fire truck if we can apparently afford to "risk" getting rid of the old one before the new one is delivered.
[pause for reply]

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By 07. 2....... on Tuesday, March 27, 2007 - 7:52 pm:

quote:

1) At the last meeting I asked the council:
Through what rationale does the council justify charging what the law describes as the "not to exceed maximum" per page copying fee, when even the town's own lawyers charge 15 times less for the same service?

Attorney FRED SEMRAU unanswered the question for the council with the statement "we're looking into that". For public edification the town government has been using this 4 word evasion for over seven years now. The law clearly states that "actual cost" is to be determined excluding labor. Including labor, and all the expenses that go with running a commercial enterprise, the free-market price for a "black-and-white" copy is something under 5 a copy. By charging 15 times in excess of that fair market price the council creates "an appearance" of willful exploitation, and deliberate intention to diminish access to public information.

In light of the facts, and the obvious "appearance problem", I again ask the individual members-of-the-council to rationally justify, through articulated explanation, their individual willful decisions to charge what the law describes as the "not to exceed maximum" per page copying fee, when even the town's own lawyers (as a profession not revered for their devotion to fair pricing) charge 15 times less for the same service?



[Mayor Neil Henry] Fred I'll let you answer that

[Fred Semrau, Esq] ok

[Mayor Neil Henry] one more time.

[Fred Semrau, Esq] yes mayor we are looking into that a number of municipalities I would estimate a majority of municipalities are in accord with what the pricing guidelines that have been established under the Open Public Records law and also what has been previously established by our legislature which is what we charge right now... when I say looking into that um number one I spoke to the legal counsel for the League of municipalities what if any position the league has with respect to this, because what Mr. Mozner points out is a concern that has been expressed by a number of people throughout the state... on the same token the law has certain parameters... what we can charge... the league right now indicated to me that there was some legislation that was discussed.. to be more definitive with respect to what can be charged... because right now it says up to or not to exceed for example 75 per page so that's one thing we've looked into I asked if we could maintain any updates from the league as to where they're going with this... the second thing is I do plan to discuss further with the administrator what the actual costs are because in some cases it's more than just the 5 there is certain costs that need to be factored into this, and time. certainly it is something that should be looked into but a number of municipalities have the same type of pricing scheme that is in place. and it's all within the statute. so for us to look into it is something that I did mention last month and I will report back. as to where we are with respect to fees.

[Ralph E. Blakeslee, Administrator]can I make an observation about the 5 fee

[Fred Semrau, Esq] yes

[Ralph E. Blakeslee, Administrator]just because a business charges 5 a copy, that does not mean that is what their expense is.... it could simply mean that they are trying to bring people in by discounting the cost of a photocopying so they can attempt to sell them other services... so the relevancy of what a private business may charge per copy verses what we charge per copy really is mute.

[Councilman Stanley Witczak] we have obviously other overhead costs that those businesses like you said may not really have or pass on... our goal here is to make sure we can cover any cost for those copies.

[Mayor Neil Henry] thank-you Fred

quote:

2) At the last meeting I again inquired: "if the council has any concern regarding the Regional Board of Education's refusal to ever publicly disclose what capital projects were canceled, (as promised) to fund the voter approved $2 million transfer of funds?

Council President Murphy chose to answer for the council with the claim that "The Regional Board of education acts independently of the council and makes its own decisions."

I would counter by pointing out that, State government agencies act independently of the council, yet the council shows no apprehension regarding publicly voicing in its opinion of agency action and policy, and fully exercising its power of protest when necessary. I would also point out that your attorney has verified the fact that there is no legal impediment preventing the council from voicing opinions, or exercising proper investigatory authority, regarding actions of the school board. So I again ask the individual members of the town council if they are at all concerned regarding the, $40 million in debt, Regional Board of Education's refusal to publicly disclose what capital projects were canceled, (as was promised to the voters) to fund the voter approved $2 million transfer of funds?



[Mayor Neil Henry] I would abide by council President reply that the regional school board of education acts independently of the council and a makes its own decisions that's always been the approach our council has taken...a I would suggest to Mr. Mosher if he would like to get an answer to that question he reached out for the West Morris Regional High School and perhaps submit a question for them to review at their next meeting.

[Fred Semrau, Esq] that would be available through an open public records request.

quote:

3) I would ask the council to respond to the reasonable observation that there seems a gross inefficiency in selling surplus (fuel inefficient firetrucks) to buyers in Nebraska. I would also question the real urgency of the need for a new half million dollar fire truck if we can apparently afford to "risk" getting rid of the old one before the new one is delivered.




Early in the meeting the Council attempted to deal with the incongruous appearance (raised in my question) of selling the old fire truck before the new fire truck would be delivered-- unfortunately they didn't address the weirdness of selling surplus to buyers and Nebraska. I don't know if I will bother transcribing the entire discussion (it's not like any of you people care) I probably will post the direct quote of the fire chief who said something like "we're not even currently using the old firetruck". What seems pretty obvious is that this 1/2 million-dollar expenditure was more want then urgent need.

[Mayor Neil Henry] Mr. Blakeslee.... we addressed part of that earlier in the conversation

[Ralph E. Blakeslee, Administrator] right as we had indicated earlier in the meeting...um the decision has been made by the governing body to purchase a new fire truck... that purchase has been made, we're under contract... take delivery... The fire chief um is going to coordinate the delivery of the fire truck to the Omaha Power Co. he'll make accommodations to make sure that the Borough is protected... I don't know what more can be said.

[Mayor Neil Henry] all right hearing nothing else from the public.

Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By 07. 07. 07. 2....... on Wednesday, March 28, 2007 - 9:02 am:

quote:

[Fred Semrau, Esq] yes mayor we are looking into that a number of municipalities I would estimate a majority of municipalities are in accord with what the pricing guidelines that have been established under the Open Public Records law and also what has been previously established by our legislature which is what we charge right now



The old "everyone else is doing it" excuse... again. There is no other entity charging 75 a page for black-and-white copies, but corrupt governments. and they're charging this fee for "public information" often acutely relevant to scrutinizing the operation of government. The deliberate intent to keep the public ignorant, and exercise control, it is quite simply obvious.

quote:

... when I say looking into that um number one I spoke to the legal counsel for the League of municipalities



A preposterously phony rubber-stamp organization created and financed by all the local fascist bastions, and fifetems of corruption.

quote:

what if any position the league has with respect to this, because what Mr. Mozner points out is a concern that has been expressed by a number of people throughout the state...



the dozen or so Americans left in this state.

quote:

on the same token the law has certain parameters... what we can charge...



1 parameter, a "not to exceed" maximum.

quote:

the league right now indicated to me that there was some legislation that was discussed.. to be more definitive with respect to what can be charged... because right now it says up to or not to exceed for example 75 per page so that's one thing we've looked into I asked if we could maintain any updates from the league as to where they're going with this...



It's going nowhere, towns currently have a free choice to charge whatever they like under the absolute maximum of 75 a page for usual/common document requests... for unusual or expensive requests they may only charge a reasonable approximation of "actual cost" excluding labor. To save 1500% maybe I'll make my next comment document request, asking them make the copies standing on one foot.

quote:

the second thing is I do plan to discuss further with the administrator what the actual costs are because in some cases it's more than just the 5 there is certain costs that need to be factored into this, and time.



Unless it's over an hour of time, courts have already ruled that municipalities cannot not charge for time. The only thing your elected fascists are trying to factor into the price, is enough excess to keep public documents out of my hands.

quote:

certainly it is something that should be looked into but a number of municipalities have the same type of pricing scheme that is in place.



Demonstrating the existence of widespread corruption and an effective constitutional crisis.

quote:

and it's all within the statute.



Yet it preposterously offends the intent of the statute, and violates promises made to the people.

quote:

so for us to look into it is something that I did mention last month and I will report back. as to where we are with respect to fees.



They've been feeding me this lying lawyer crap for nine years. it doesn't take much more than 25 seconds to "analyze" a 75 a page fee for black-and-white copies and conclude it is outrageous.

quote:

[Ralph E. Blakeslee, Administrator]just because a business charges 5 a copy, that does not mean that is what their expense is.... it could simply mean that they are trying to bring people in by discounting the cost of a photocopying so they can attempt to sell them other services.



As the Borough administrator is no doubt aware... when stores offering copping services want you in their store they offer rates as low as 2 a copy.

quote:

... so the relevancy of what a private business may charge per copy verses what we charge per copy really is mute.



Mute, to a deaf and dumb public, and corrupt government, that chooses to ignore the echoes of the wisdom of our forefathers.

quote:

[Councilman Stanley Witczak] we have obviously other overhead costs that those businesses like you said may not really have or pass on...



The overhead of evil intentions and gross incompetence.

quote:

Our goal here is to make sure we can cover any cost for those copies.



I wonder how much the publicly subsidized public library charges for document copies??... Why no concern for covering costs their? The answer... because there's no information their current enough to keep a citizen informed regarding the policy of its government.

quote:

[Mayor Neil Henry] thank-you Fred



For contriving a pile of inarticulate crap incomprehensibly obscuring our illegal intent.

quote:

[Mayor Neil Henry] I would abide by council President Murphys reply that the regional school board of education acts independently of the council and a makes its own decisions that's always been the approach our council has taken...



In other words, as lawbreakers, we feel no obligation to scrutinize their lawbreaking.

quote:

a I would suggest to Mr. Mosher if he would like to get an answer to that question he reached out for the West Morris Regional High School and perhaps submit a question for them to review at their next meeting.



Been there, done that...

quote:

[Fred Semrau, Esq] that would be available through an open public records request.



not one filed by this American citizen.

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