Thursday, May 31, 2012

What the Asmar Weekly Did and Did Not Know

Recent articles in the Inweekly and Rick's Blog mentioned a Sunshine Law issue involving the City Administrator Bill Reynolds.  As usual, these articles were spun to create a perception of angst between the City Administrator and me.  Nothing could have been further from the truth.
Did you see anything about this in any other press outlet.  No. 
Is the Asmar Weekly the only one to get the story.  No. 
But it did get it first.

I asked for this issue to be handled discretely as I was convinced that the issue, at its worst, was inadvertent. However, someone intentionally leaked the information directly to the Independent News. Mr. Messer’s letter and Mr. Reynold’s affidavit were sent to me, the Mayor, John Asmar, Mr. Reynolds and the City Clerk on May 3, 2012 at 11:57am. At this point, these were the only people to know of the potential issue.  However, a public records request was sent by the InWeekly that morning at 11:21am. Thirty six minutes before Mr. Messer had asked for a review of the issue by the State Attorney, the request was already in for all of the background emails.

After I saw the public records request from the Asmar Weekly come in, I immediately wanted the real press to know the entire circumstances.  The following statement was prepared by me and sent out the PNJ, local radio and local TV stations.  Obviously, once they had this information they saw that there was no story and I was merely acting on the City Attorney's advice.

I didn't bother to share the above with the Asmar Weekly.  It was too entertaining to watch them spin the story and portray the sinister actions I supposedly alleged.

Why report the news when you can manufacture the news!






Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Who is to Blame?

Pensacola Fire Union representative Phillip Hoffman posted the following on the Fire Union's Facebook page on Saturday.

"The City of Pensacola is misleading the tax payers, they closed three rescue companies in 2008 putting the citizens and the firefighters at risk with under manned fire stations. We have fire houses full of mold and employees that haven't had a raise in 5yrs. Yet their focus is on closing a pension that we pay 11% into and is one of the best funded in the state of Florida. Read this municipal financial analysis of the City of Pensacola put together using standard accounting practice's used across the country, it speaks for itself. It's time to do the right thing and give the tax payers of this great city the fire protection they deserve and pay for already."

I have previously stated exactly what Mr. Hoffman is stating, that the taxpayers are being mislead by the Mayor's office.  I asked for the station and the manning to be corrected last year.  NOTHING HAS BEEN DONE.

I have asked again this year for the Mayor's Office to correct this issue.  I want to be very clear.  The Mayor does not prepare his budget.  His staff prepares it, as they should.  But who has responsibility for the budget and who has neglected the Citizen's safety and the Firemen's safety?  Just see below.

From: Bill Reynolds

Sent: Monday, May 14, 2012 4:35 PM
To: Maren Deweese
Subject: FW: Meeting request for Mr. Reynolds Councilwoman DeWeese,

I am out of the area until Thursday. I looking at your list, the areas of concern are budget issues. I do not have the responsibility for budget. I would suggest you contact Mr. Asmar to discuss.

Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone




Friday, May 25, 2012

Fire!

Recently, Council President Sam Hall mentioned the threats of the Mayor's Staff for failure to support mayoral issues such as the recent DIB Loan forgiveness. 

"President Hall claimed members of Mayor Ashton Hayward’s staff had pressured him—or “threatened” him—warning that he risked a bad portrayal in the press.

“We’d be the whipping boy over this issue and we’d be painted in the worst possible light,” Hall said he was told. “And I did not appreciate that.”

The threats appear to in fact be real and come not only from Staff but from a local journalist.  I obtained the following text message via a public information request.  It is a text message from Rick Outzen, Publisher of the Independent Weekly, to Councilman Larry B. Johnson. 


Due to Mr. Johnson's opposition to the DIB forgiveness, the following appeared in print:

http://inweekly.net/wordpress/?p=9736

http://ricksblog.biz/buzz-vendetta-politics-continues-on-city-council/

I hope this text message shows the "Independent" Weekly to be what it is, a "marketing solution" and enforcement tool of John Asmar, Chief of Staff. 

Additionally, as I previously posted, Mr. Outzen believes that texts messages to or from him and City staff ARE NOT public documents. However, in the below public records request he clearly thinks that text messages between City officials and others ARE public documents. Why is there a difference to him?



From: Richard Outzen [mailto:rick@inweekly.net]
Sent: Tuesday, May 01, 2012 1:06 PM
To: Ericka Burnett
Subject: Public Information Request

It has been brought to our attention that Councilman Larry Johnson saves his text messages--thereby making them a public record. We are requesting all of his text messages to and from his cell phone (850-449-1098) from April 9, 2012 through April 27, 2012 regarding the Downtown Improvement Board and its staff, Pen Air Federal Credit Union and its staff, Thiesen Building and its owners, and Mayor Ashton Hayward, his office and any city staff. If there are any questions regarding this request, please contact me. I realize that the legal department may review this request, I am happy to discuss this request with them, too.


Richard OutzenPublisher, Independent News
(850) 438-8115
rick@inweekly.net




Smoke?

I am posting the following email string without comment for public information.

From: Maren Deweese
Sent: Thursday, May 24, 2012 10:45 PM
To: Ashton Hayward; Bill Reynolds; Ericka Burnett; Jim Messer
Cc: Ginny Graybiel; Kevin Doyle
Subject: RE: Deweese - Public Record Request regarding Independent News publisher

Good evening

I am aware that Mr. Outzen made a recent public records request of a councilperson's text messages.  I am aware that at least one text message was provided by a Councilperson to Mr. Messer and Ms. Burnett to fulfill Mr. Outzen's request.  It is therefore a public record as it was provided by the Councilperson as part of a response to a public records request. 

I therefore would like that text immediately and stand by my previous request for Outzen text messages.

Additionally, I would like to expand my request to include:

·         All emails to or from John Asmar and Rick Outzen or any user at inweekly.net in the last 180 days. 
·         The previous 5 emails from John Asmar before any email to or from Rick Outzen or any user at inweekly.net in the last 180 days. 
·         The subsequent 5 emails from John Asmar after any email to or from Rick Outzen or any user at inweekly.net in the last 180 days.

As stated on every email into or out of the City, Florida has a very broad public records law.  Most written communications to or from state and local officials regarding government business are public records available to the public and media upon request.  Your email communications may be subject to public disclosure.

Once again, Mr. Outzen presents himself as a member of the press and therefore no emails resulting from this inquiry should be considered personal.  If such an objection is made, I request that all such emails be identified and retained by the City for further investigation.

Thank you!


Maren DeWeese                 
District 3 Representative
2435 Semoran Drive
Pensacola FL 32503-8203
850-436-5796



Notice:  Florida has a very broad public records law.  Most written communications to or from state and local officials regarding government business are public records available to the public and media upon request.  Your email communications may be subject to public disclosure.





From: Richard Outzen [mailto:rick@inweekly.net]
Sent: Thursday, May 24, 2012 2:44 PM
To: Ashton Hayward; Bill Reynolds; Brian Spencer; Elisabeth Buswell; John Asmar; John Jerralds; Larry B. Johnson; Maren Deweese; Megan Pratt; P.C. Wu; Rita R. Lee; Ronald Townsend; Sam Hall; Sherri Myers; Travis Peterson; Allison Ballenger
Cc: Ginny Graybiel; Kevin Doyle; Susan Watson
Subject: Fwd: Deweese - Public Record Request regarding Independent News publisher

The Independent News is challenging this request. We request that all text messages be withheld until we get a ruling from the City Attorney. If he rules against us, then we will challenge this in federal court as a violation of First Amendment. Communications with the me or any member of the media aren't public record simply because Ms. DeWeese deems it so.



As always, our newspaper will fight vigorously to protect our sources.




Richard Outzen
Publisher, Independent News
(850) 438-8115
rick@inweekly.net

Begin forwarded message:


From: Richard Outzen <rick@inweekly.net>
Subject: Deweese - Public Record Request regarding Independent News publisher
Date: May 24, 2012 2:20:01 PM CDT
To: jmesser@cityofpensacola.com, Ericka Burnett <EBurnett@cityofpensacola.com>
Cc: Mike Papantonio <pap@levinlaw.com>, Bob Kerrigan <rgk@kerrigan.com>


Mr. Messer and Ms. Burnett:

The Independent News challenges Councilwoman DeWeese's interpretation of the Sunshine Law  in the record request below. Before anyone releases any text messages to Ms. Burnett, we ask the city attorney rule on her stipulation that all text messages to and from my cell phone are public record simply because I am journalist regardless of the topic.  Once we receive that ruling, our attorneys will review it and decide whether we will challenge this request in court.  Until then, no one should be compelled to comply.

Thank you.


Rick Outzen, Publisher
Independent News


--------
From: Maren Deweese
Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2012 10:24 PM
To: Ericka Burnett
Subject: Public Records Request

Ms. Burnett

I would like to make a public records request of the following information:


·       All text messages sent to or from Rick Outzen to any Councilmember, the Mayor or mayoral staff members or contractors in the last 180 days. The number is (850) 255-1481.

·       Mr. Outzen presents himself as a member of the press and therefore no texts resulting from this inquiry should be considered personal.  If such an objection is made, I request that all such texts be identified and retained by the City for further investigation.

Thank you for your attention to this request.

Best Regards,

Maren DeWeese
District 3 Representative
2435 Semoran Drive
Pensacola FL 32503-8203
850-436-5796

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Promises Made; Promises Unfulfilled

Last year, as part of the budget, I submitted 3 items for Mayoral response.

  1. I requested the Gas price increase not proceed.  That was denied.
  2. I requested Fire Station 3 have mold and structural damage repaired. To date nothing has been done.
  3. I requested rescue trucks be adequately manned.  The Mayor's response was that something would be done in the first quarter of FY2012. We are half way through the 3rd quarter of FY2012 and to date nothing has been done.
Items 2 and 3 were also submitted to the Mayor's office this year as part of the budget cycle.  I look forward to the Mayor's office keeping their pledges to the citizens and to our brave firemen.  I have provided 2 links

  1. the actual Mayoral committments.



  2. a link to an article regarding the safety issues surrounding the manning issue.
http://inweekly.net/wordpress/?p=3634

Will This Year Be Different?

I am posting the following information without comment, as the email speaks for itself.

This was received by a public records request by me:

 From: Travis Peterson travis@impactcampaigns.com
 Date: Tue, 5 Jul 2011 18:35:30
To: John Asmar; Ashton Hayward
Subject: budget / communications - July 5


Okay so here's where I think we are:
* PNJ wants to do the two stories - one on 180 days and one on budget.
* They want to do the 180 days story 1-2 weeks prior to the budget story.
* On this timeline, it's probably Aug. 7 for the budget story prior to the Aug. 8 submission to council, which means July 24th for the 180 days story.
* They are happy for the exclusive but don't want to be "scooped" by anything else we do (big speeches, web videos, etc).

So, I'm recommending:

* Send Jamie my updated checklist off the 20 Solutions, per his request (attached). That tees up the 180 days story that he can follow up on next week.
* We do a web video of Mayor (I've got some ideas for concept) talking about his 180 days that we can email, blog, youtube, etc.
* For budget story, we give Jamie what he needs for a big story.
* We can do similar address / web video for the August 8 presentation of budget to Council.
* Budget message still consistent with our agreed-on plan - little bit of look back, but mostly budget and reorg...this is the basis for the above web video / speech to council.

Now, the big questions are:

? What exactly do we send to Council for budget briefings?
I like John's idea of discussing their district projects but they will probably expect more. Also attached is Yvette's draft budget brief...very numbers-oriented. I believe this is something we can tailor for our budget meetings w/ council to release only what we want. That way if it leaks that revenues are down, or that we have a hole to plug, it's no big deal - that's not news. HOW we plug those holes or reorg is the story.

? Is everyone comfortable with this calendar for communicating?
This is pushed back from original thoughts, but if PNJ is willing to play along, I don't see a downside for the delay as long as we manage the council briefings properly. We may also find that we need to put the "road show" into action FOLLOWING the budget submission, so we're generating public support for it and pressuring council to pass it.

? What other big decisions need to be made for budget?
Are we going forward with rollback? What to do with sanitation, etc.

Let's talk tomorrow am - maybe we can conf call. I'm around all day, on eastern time.

Travis

P.S. - the first page of Yvette's package is 2012 estimates...all the rest is 2011 but this should give you idea of what they normally do. i think it can be tailored to release exactly what we want to release to council.