Typically, when a person submits an information request to a city, the city takes it seriously. The Freedom of Information Act is pretty specific about transparency, yet the Bobsey Twins at the City of Lavon, Mayor Chuck Teske and City Secretary Chris Wess, appear to merely use FOIA as a general guidebook and instead create their own resolutions on the matter in my opinion.
Sadly, when I peer into the souls of the troubled twosome, Teske and Wess, I see evil, dark masses masquerading as smiley-faced upstanding citizens. The trouble is, growing numbers of people around town know the truth about those two as it has even been written about in the Lavon, Texas Facebook Group's page. Stories have been posted about how these two behave, oh and also about their feindship outside of council chambers with their pal Mayor Pro Tem Chris Kane as well.
I am of the opinion that these people are hell-bent on hiding information. Firstly, because a FOIA request came in from a citizen requesting the employment records of Chris Wess and it was discovered that older records, which were locked up and to which only Chris Wess had the key to when the request was made, somehow mysteriously disappeared. It was also discovered that the recent complaints made against Chris Wess by various people were not in her employee file either. Sounds like an HR nightmare to me, especially when complaints are not recorded by the one who they were made against and who is the sole person with access to those files, and particularly when there has been a complaint of sexual harassment made against her. I wonder, is that complaint in her file yet?
Then again, when a sloppy, ripped and stained t-shirt wearing, narcissistic mayor becomes elected and he hires his seemingly sneaky friend to run the City show, one must wonder what the real story is behind that. I mean, here is a woman without any formal training or degree, being hired as a City Secretary and is essentially handed City Manager duties in the name of the Mayor. When she was hired, suddenly all employment management duties were stripped from the former City Manager/Chief of Police, and handed to this uneducated woman who holds no formal training in City Secretarial duties. Hells, at least the Chief of Police has not had any sexual harassment complaints made against him.
Additionally, the tandem sit in City Hall and scheme together, whispering down the hall or outside on one of Wess' numerous smoke breaks. In fact, these two have spent hours a week doing just this, all on Lavon taxpayer dime. Indeed their time together has been witnessed by employees and citizens alike. Must be nice to spend so much chatting during business hours so that Wess can then complain about not having enough time to get things done, and begin racking up comp time staying late and coming in on the weekends to work. Her comp time this year has reached over 100 hours on the books at one point. Take that cumulative total with comp time taken instead of holidays and vacation time being used, it would appear that what is on the books must be worth hiding. Nice, considering I believe she can cash in a certain amount of vacation time for a paycheck at some point. Wouldn't that net her additional cold hard cash by using comp instead of vacation? I am of the opinion that Lavon taxpayers are paying for her to be Chatty Cathy with the Mayor and Loosey Goosey with the time-clock.
As a little side note, this comp time schedule is kept on the shared drive in an excel file, and it would have taken them less than 1 minute to open a new email, attach the file, and email it to me in completion of one of my information requests. That has not happened yet, though I am certain they are waiting for the 10 day clock to tick down and then I surmise, will likely pass the request to the lawyer who I anticipate will ask me even more redundant questions that I already answered in my original requests. How fecking hard is it to interpret, a request for Wess' comp time listing for the year when it is all detailed on one spreadsheet? It is pretty clear the City is stalling on all of my requests. This is the game of cat and mouse the City of Lavon is playing. But they don't play it very well, they just break the law doing it and I suspect that will catch up to them at some point with personal fines.
Lately however, I figure the gruesome twosome must be conspiring against my FOIA information requests because I see the topic has made it on Tuesday night's City Council Meeting Agenda. It seems they will put a time limitation on FOIA requests. Page 19 indicates they will spend no more than 36 hours on any information request or they will charge for time and overhead costs along with copying, etc. I can only hope they plan to stick to the small $ amount FOIA allows for since much has been written about the fines these types of entities have had to pay for dicking around with fees charged or worse yet, not supplying the data requested. I wonder how they will prove that a competent employee actually spent time researching requests and how they will prove they didn't fake the time spent? Considering they have not proven themselves trustworthy, what with missing information and all, I will have a difficult time believing anything they try to charge.
Perhaps I should request to sit in the office and observe said 'research'. I wonder how much they would appreciate daily visits as I record their activities? Seriously, it is a public building and I am allowed to visually obtain the information in my requests at no copy fees to me. Again, two can play that game.
These two are hell-bent on playing as many games as possible. I still do not have an answer to my first request well over 10 days old now because their lawyer decided to play games by asking redundant questions which were already answered in my first request. But feigning ignorance will only go so far with the AGs office.
I wonder, what with all the gossiping and dilly dallying that takes place with hours of chat time on cell phones they are attempting to hide from me, just how can they prove they spent efficient time working on task for a FOIA request? I mean, they have not exactly proven themselves beyond reproach have they? Missing records, just to name one large issue.
And since there is no level of trust of these people, now one might suppose they will 'conveniently' move the files to their off-site storage location down the road, just so they can make the fees insurmountable to anyone that asks for information. The fact remains, the records I requested have been stored on site for years and I have not asked for anything that wasn't easily accessible and could not be provided as an attachment to an email or a $1 CD.
So too I'm sure they will play games by sending certified letters to me and when they go unsigned because I am not able to get to the post office to sign for them due to my schedule, they will use that as an excuse to claim I have somehow retracted my requests. By the way, they are not allowed to purposely make it impossible for the requester to receive information, and if they try that game I'm sure the AG will want to hear about it.
So what Lavon citizens are faced with is a sudden resolution which addresses fees and time limitations on FOIA requests. Doesn't this appear all too convenient considering the fact they are receiving FOIA requests now when nary a request came prior to the last several months? So too, they are asking for trouble with such an edict especially when one can easily find 30 people to make 1 request each and just keep the fun rolling over and over again sucking up those 36 hours times 30. Again, two can play that game.
Alas, time is on my side, as I am in no hurry for documents I've already seen in person. The longer Teske and Wess stall, the more time I have to blog about their foibles and the greater my readership levels grow. Soon there will not be a person in Lavon who is unaware of their crappy behavior. I predict that as the clock ticks down, each person occupying a seat will be removed and new blood will arrive, and I am confident that eventually the matter will be dealt with. I will win in the end, so I am not concerning myself with the games these people are playing. And since I believe they are no longer being taken seriously or trusted by community members, I believe their bed is already made.
Despite all that nonsense, I find this new 'resolution' to be yet another convenient example that Mayor Chuck Teske and his pal City Secretary Chris Wess are playing a hide and seek game with FOIA-able information. This should make every citizen of the City of Lavon wonder exactly what sort of business the Bobsey Twins are hiding anyway?