Sometimes you just want to scream.
Last week, the City Council was scheduled to meet in executive session to talk about ballot Issue 300, the brainchild of City Hall critic Douglas Bruce, and how it affects the annual payment that Colorado Springs Utilities makes in lieu of taxes.
When Mayor Lionel Rivera polled council members about going into executive session, a council majority decided the matter could be discussed in public.
Transparency in government is a beautiful thing.
The council went on to discuss a memo prepared by the City Attorney’s Office that was stamped “confidential” and “attorney client privilege” and ”attorney work product.”
The memo basically said that the so-called PILT “constitutes a surplus under the City Charter” and that the city can continue to collect and spend those funds.
After the meeting, I requested the memo from Deputy City Attorney Wynetta Massey, who provided a hard copy after clearing it with Rivera.
On Friday, I requested a copy of the memo from Massey via e-mail with the intent of posting it on the City Desk blog so taxpayers could read it for themselves.
When Massey responded Monday, she said the hard copy “satisfies” the Colorado Open Records Act.
“While I realize the hard copy of the memo satisfies CORA, I am requesting an electronic copy,” I wrote back Tuesday.
(I didn’t reply sooner because I had the day off on Monday.)
“Are you saying you won’t provide it to me electronically?” I asked.
“The Office policy is not to provide electronic copies of documents released in hard copy that satisfy CORA,” Massey said in an e-mail about three hours later.
Office policy? Seriously?
That triggered a request for the policy.
Three hours later, Massey responded again.
“After seeking Council’s authorization to release the memorandum, I provided you a hard copy of the document, without charge, within 15 minutes of the request. If a written document is provided, it is an Office policy not to duplicate efforts and email the same document, so long as CORA has been satisfied. However, as a courtesy, I have attached an electronic copy of the memorandum,” she said in the e-mail.
“If you wish to obtain an electronic copy of requested documents in the future, you should identify that format when making the request,” she added.
Long story short, transparency in government isn’t always pretty.
Click here to read the memo.