Monday, April 16, 2007

My day, and a bad one it was...

Luckily for us we are pretty much done with tax season...

I was very angry today when The Deputy Mayor announced the Memorandum's of Understanding regarding Harrison Square would probably be completed today and would be voted on by the Redevelopment Commission today. He added that it would be introduced to City Council tomorrow...

Copies can be found here:
<http://downtownfortwaynebaseball.blogspot.com/>

I attended the meeting today after filing seven Freedom of Information Requests with the City this afternoon.

The Mayor's office has to date refused to provide basic financial information that they have repeatedly promised to provide to the public and I am very disappointed in The Mayor's office.

It does not seem to matter to the Mayor that he made a personal promise to get me the information that I requested two months ago. It does not seem to matter to our Deputy Mayor that he has failed to answer questions that have been posed to him over the last couple of months. At several public meetings our Deputy Mayor has promised that "all questions will be answered."

They lied.

I am extremely disappointed in the lack of transparency and the unwillingness of the Mayor's office to provide public documents to concerned citizens.

I am almost as angry that Kevin Knuth, the local Democrat Chair has decided to turn a blind eye to this blatant violation of open and transparent government. Kevin Knuth is constantly complaining about a lack of transparency when dealing with Republicans; however, it does not seem to bother him when our Democratic Mayor does the exact same thing...

Kevin Knuth, it is NOT complicated. Our Mayor PROMISED me that the City would provide me with all of the financial information associated with Harrison Square BEFORE it was introduced at City Council. He did this in a public setting with about sixty witnesses. Heck ask Karren Goldner or Jeff Pruitt (Local Democrats) if you need some verification.

I have not been given one single paragraph of information to date and not one of my financing questions (I submitted 58 questions in writing) has been answered since my meeting with Pat Roller in early March.

This is disgraceful and it is wrong.

The City forced me to file Freedom of Information Requests so that I can review basic financial information.

Before I went Downtown today I called Councilman Tom Didier. I told him that I was angry that I have not been given ANY of the information that I was promised. Councilman Didier was quite surprised. He told me he would call the Mayors office personally and that he would make sure I got the information I was promised...

I sat in a room with both The Deputy Mayor and The City attorney a couple of hours later. Neither gave me any information.

I talked to Councilman Didier tonight and he wanted to make sure I got all of the information I requested. I told him that I still have received nothing and he was very surprised. He told me that he had been told today that I would be given what I have been asking for...

To date I have received nothing...

So much for open and transparent Government in Fort Wayne...

Mike Sylvester

11 comments:

James Fitch said...

See you at the City Council tomorrow.

Kevin Knuth said...

Mike,

What do you want me to do? Put the Mayor on "double secret probation"?

You have filed FOIA requests- I could do no more.

However, have you considered, that you currently have ALL the information that is available?

The MOU with Hardball was signed on Sunday, and you got it on Monday.

There most likely are no final numbers- there are no contracts yet. So what is the city suppose to give you?

Matt Brunson said...

Ok Kevin. If this wasn't done until Sunday then shouldn't there be a period of time that the information is viewable by the public before things are voted on. It just seems to me that things are being done to the technical letter of disclosure with no true effort to inform the public in a reasonable manner.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Kevin Knuth:

You must not be following this situation as closely as I thought. There are a huge number of things I have requested and not been given, here is a short list for you:

1. I have been asking for a breakdown of the public vs private financing by item. I want to check their math. Please relaize that TWO new sources of public funding were mentioned at yesterdays meeting that I had never heard would be part of the project.

2. All financinal projections including hotel occupancy, parking occupancy, etc.

3. A copy of all revenue sharing agreements.

4. When the hotel developer responded to the December RFP they had to provide the city with forms A1, A2, A3, and A4. The City has had these for two months and not released them yet...

5. Answers to the 58 written questions that I submitted in March. To date not one has been answered.

6. The "Crowe" report repeaatedly mentions another report that I have requested. No one I have talked to even knows what the report entitled "City of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Downtown Community Revitalization Enhancement District, Consultants Report.

So far I have not got one of these things and it is irritating.

So no, I do not have all of the information, in fact I still do not have ANY of the information needed to analyze the financing that the Mayor promised me.

I want the City to give me their Financial Projections Kevin. That is what I keep saying. I want their financial estimates so I can check them and analyze their assumptions...

This is getting more absurd by the day...

Mike Sylvester

Kevin Knuth said...

Mike,

The reality is, even if you had those documents you would not be satisfied.

But in the interest of open government, I suggest you contact Indiana's Public Access Counselor (www.in.gov/pac).

They will validate if the City has broken public access laws for you.

In reviewing several of your posts it is clear that you do not really believe in Public/Private partnerships.

I would like to pose a question to you, as a CPA- A client of yours owns a small business that could qualify for certain tax credits from the city. Do you encourage your client to apply for these, or, because you are opposed to them, do you not?

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Kevin Knuth:

You are entirely wrong.

I would be satisfied if the City gave me the documents the Mayor promised. I want to check their math. In fact Kevin, you being an "open government guy" should want me to check their math...

You need to stop defending the Mayor and you need to realize that his office has handled this badly...

I do NOT think the City has broken any laws Kevin.

The Mayor has broken a public promise for sure. The Deputy Mayor has not fulfilled his promise at numerous Public Meetings to answer any and all questions. They have not violated the law.

What I SHOULD have done, and what I will do from now on when I deal with our current Mayors Office is I will file a separate Freedom of Information Request for each item of Public Information that I want from the City.

Two different people recommended I do just that in March of this year. They both told me I would regret not filing them.

They were right.

I trusted the Mayors office and I got burned.

I consider this a learning experience.

Mike Sylvester

Kevin Knuth said...

Mike,

You want to "Check their math"?

You REALLY think that they cannot add?

Anyone reading this blog knows that you are going to take issue with ANY conclusions that they would have.

I am not defending the Mayor- I am a supporter of Harrison Square, and I openly admit that.

I, too, doubt that they have broken any laws. I really think that much of the information you are requesting simply does not exist at this time.

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Kevin Knuth:

Your "double secret probation" comment is pretty funny...

I expect you to realize that the Mayor's office has handled this badly.

I should NOT have been forced to file seven Freedom of Information Acts.

I should have been given the information I was promised.

Mike Sylvester

LP Mike Sylvester said...

Kevin Knuth:

Lets see their announcement in December of 2006 claimed that the Harrison Square Project would have 60% PRIVATE Financing and would involve a hotel with AT LEAST 300 rooms.

I am sure you remember all of this Kevin? I still have copies of the brochures the City handed out in Feb and March of 2007 stating this...

Yesterdays JG says it has dropped to only 51.5% PRIVATE money.

Then last night at The Redevelopment Commission Meeting two brand new Public subsidies were revealed for the very first time...

Hmmm...

It seems like they need to have their math checked...

Back when you beleived in open Government you would have agreed with me. It seems that you have changed your tune since I am dealing with a Democratic administration?

That is sad and I expected better from you!

Mike Sylvester

B.G. (Semper Paratus) said...

Mike:

Maybe this city's governmental "transparency" is JUST what we need...as in we can SEE RIGHT THROUGH their shenanigans.

B.G.

Jeff Pruitt said...

Kevin,

"I really think that much of the information you are requesting simply does not exist at this time. "

You are CERTAINLY incorrect w/ regards to one specific document - the CRED consultants report. This was used to define the inputs to the economic impact study that was released. It is specifically referenced in the impact study yet the city has not released it - why?

And is it ethical to release the results of an impact study w/o defining the assumptions that went into that study? You know, the mayor constantly talks about statistics-based government (e.g. six sigma) but the crap they're pulling would NEVER fly in the private sector.

They have shown nothing but contempt for the role of public oversight and involvement. I am sorely disappointed in their ham-handed approach...