"Clerk’s Office Lawyers Up for Public Records Requests"
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master that’s all.”
“They’ve a temper, some of them—particularly verbs, they’re the proudest—adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs—however, I can manage the whole lot!
"Impenetrability! That’s what I say!"
by Scott Ellis
The battle goes on for simple public records requested of the Brevard County Clerk’s Office. Anything requested with the magic word ‘BlueWare’ triggers an all out effort to twist words to create semantic lies. I am accused of flooding the Clerk’s Office with FS 119 requests, when in fact the simple requests which should be answerable in a few minutes are deliberately left to die of neglect.
There is no interruption of an ‘everyday work process’ producing any public records because no work is being done. As the requests continue to sort through the legal weasel wording and stonewalling, we are now threatened with having the Legal Bully Boys sicced on us for ‘harassment’. This is somewhat mystifying to me, perhaps a new crime has been created?
What is truly pitiful is while Mr. Campbell bemoans the office is swamped in these simple requests, they seem to find the time to push BlueWare products to other agencies ON THE TAXPAYER NICKEL. I thought it was bad enough using the tax dollars to buy radio ads on WMMB to promote Zephyr Communications, the advertising genii, but even better is the Clerk trying to drag in all the local police departments to a demonstration of a useless gadget for the Clerk and Law Enforcement.
The data pen passes real time information, great for some purposes but of no value for traffic citations. What is needed is a laptop program which will populate the citation and place the data into a file which could be downloaded to the Clerk, populating our database with the download rather than the manual entering of the citation we must do now. Even with the Clerk promising he could find grant money (the free kind, you know) for the data pen product there was zero interest shown by Law Enforcement.
Now why in the world is a Clerk’s Office which cannot supply simple public records, primarily on personnel and BlueWare contracts, pushing more BlueWare contracts if there is not some Friend of Mitch (FoM) out there with a vested interest?
By hook, crook, or court, we will get the records and find out just how much of a sham bid the Invitation to Negotiate (ITN) was for the multi-million dollar document imaging contract for documents not needing to be imaged.
See Below, all highlighting is mine.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
From: Scott Ellis [mailto:email@example.com]
Well, Sean, the truth is your office, the Brevard County Clerk, has made a habit of sandbagging unflattering public records requests and when finally replying, often after months, reply incompletely or sometimes not at all.
Let’s list what I have asked for which you seem to need another attorney’s opinion, now that the Clerk’s Office has lawyered up with three on the regular payroll and untold numbers under ‘contract’.
1. From January you never responded to the simple question of monies returned from the Clerk to the Commission over ten years. You claimed the Clerk had to pay the Board well over $100,000 for ‘unpaid’ insurance during my tenure, no such invoice was ever produced.
2. From January you never produced the letter from Microsoft stating the office was being fined heavily (over $100,000 according to you) for unlicensed computers. You likewise never produced an invoice showing said fine was paid.
3. You were asked for the simple task of outside attorneys paid under contract. You conveniently left out the attorney Mr. Hogge of Tallahassee, probably being paid (I only know what Mr. Hogge told someone else in Tallahassee) to ‘watch’ the CCOC and the FACC.
4. You were asked for a simple copy of the Invitation to Negotiate (ITN) the document imaging contract, a document you had already (unknown to myself) publicly posted on Onvia. After first denying any such document existed, you admitted existence when I finally got a copy from a vendor. Weeks later when you sent it to me you tried to charge me $100 for a bogus legal opinion benefiting your office (evidently), not myself. The document could have been mailed me within the day.
5. You were asked for the simple task of WHO did you select for the ITN. Again, after first denying anyone had been selected and then presented with the e-mail from Mike McDaniel telling the vendors the award had been made, I have yet to get the information of who was selected. I have no idea how naming the company can take weeks.
6. Weeks ago I asked for the total amount of money and invoices paid to BlueWare/RoseWare/BlueGem/BestBond or whatever other names Ms. Harr’s companies operate under. Nothing. This is another simple task to look up the vendor name and produce all invoices.
7. I have recently asked for the contracts of those people the office is now paying: another simple task. The answer may be embarrassing but that’s not my problem. Everything requested is a semantic runaround, and now a legal runaround. Had I gotten real answers on other requests I’d not have to keep repeating requests in greater detail.
8. I have asked for the names and billing for other people and their public records request for this year. Personnel keeps the requests, this is a simple task. Mitch’s campaign literature is heavily saturated with public records, surely they were paid for. Ms. Bonnie Roberts and Ms. Elizabeth Young have claimed many times they’ve gone through public records, including personnel files. Just as I have had to pay dearly for the smallest records, these individuals and the Needelman campaign should have likewise been charged for the staff time to prepare their requests. They either were – or they were not.
For some reason you must think I never worked there. I know how Clerk’s Finance is supposed to operate and I know how little effort it takes to pull up the information I have requested. Jason Steele last October requested copies of every contract in the office over $10,000 a year, we produced them in a week. Under you nothing is produced; not from difficulty, but because you do not want to shine the light on the areas I have requested.
There is nothing to delay in any of the public records requests. They are all being sandbagged and have ever since Mitch Needleman was sworn in. The partial request I received, with a bill of $131, took four months to produce with only THREE HOURS of expensive labor.
No work is being done on the requests other than work [that] is trying to figure out how not to answer them.
I have a better idea about how to determine if my requests under FS 119 are ‘harassing’ your office with a few hours of work. Rather than go to your ‘Legal Department’ we can just go to court and let the Judge decide.
Since you have now completed your tirade, am I going to get my request in a timely manner or not?
I was told the financials would be available this week, are they going to be or not?
You claim I have this queue of public records requests, can you please name them?
You claim you’ve been flooded by public records requests, can you not simply print the list from Personnel?
The comments of political exploitation are laughable coming from an agency which prides itself on keeping public records from the public and flaunting the Florida Public Records laws at every opportunity.
I am sure ample time for the current clerk means August 15th, or beyond.
From: Sean Campbell [mailto:Sean.Campbell@brevardclerk.us]
I have received your request and I will add it to your other requests we are processing. Please allow ample time for our response since you have numerous request [sic] and all of them take time to research. I am not sure where you get your time estimates for these request [sic] that “should be little analysis or work” involved. Your constant request for information and never ending rebuttals to the facts presented leaves little time for us to move forward on your request or any others; this once again is more political grand standing involving fishing expeditions for information that has little relevance or repeated request for information that has already been supplied to you. Due to the unsought [sic] of your public record request [sic] I am asking our legal department to review F.S. 119 statutes and see if your actions are covered or if you are now harassing this office for political exploitation causing a detrimental delay in our every day work process.
From: Scott Ellis [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
To avoid the endless semantics which seem to prevent me from getting public records, I would like a list of the people currently on contract with the Clerk’s Office.
This does not include employees paid through the Source2 mark-up rates.
It would include any Source2 employees pad through other means, such as Beverly Young.
I would like the contracted amounts and amount of payments made for March, April, and May.
This would include contracted security at the six story, Source2 personnel not paid through the regular contract, lobbyists, lawyers, consultants, public relations wizards, etc. I already have the request for the BlueWare payments.
There should be little analysis or work for this. The Clerk cuts the checks and should know where they go without hours of research.
I snagged a picture of the Florida Today Public Records Watchdogs
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