Industrial Authority Defensive about Minutes

Could the Industrial Authority try any harder to make it look like they’ve got something to hide? Of all things to go to the mattresses about: their board minutes?

The VDT picked up on our series about a local citizen being overcharged for an open records request for VLCIA agendas and minutes. In a front page Sunday VDT story, David Rodock reports:

In response, The Valdosta Daily Times submitted their own Open Records Request for the salaries of all Industrial Authority employees.

According to the information provided by the Authority, the lowest paid fulltime employee, the Operations Manager, is paid an annual salary of $46,526.

When this number is divided by 2080, (52 weeks multiplied by 40 hours per week) it shows that the lowest paid full-time employee is making $22.40 per hour.

The salary quoted on the invoice is not the same as either of the salaries quoted in the salary request: $24.23 vs $22.40 or $10.25. How did they come up with that? It can’t be the fully loaded cost given her $22.40 per hour salary. It also doesn’t match 35 ($25.56) or 37.5 ($23.85) hours. Can they not do arithmetic?
An Authority receptionist is working part-time at a rate of $10.25 per hour.
Well, the law does say “lowest paid full-time employee”. Seems like a very slow rate of work, though.
“We have provided the information that you requested and if you would like to discuss this any further, I would suggest that you speak with Jerry Jennet, our chairman. I have no further comment,” said Ricketts.

Jennet, who is out of town this weekend, offered to answer questions in the presence of J. Stephen Gupton, the Authority attorney, on Monday at their offices.

“We’re going to do it together or we’re not going to do it,” said Gupton, after refusing to answer questions over the telephone, despite being told that the story was running Sunday.

According to Hancock, Ricketts explained to her that the five hours required to process these documents were a result of changing the format from word documents into .pdf files. Unofficially, the Times was told that this was done as a security matter so that the minutes could not be altered.

What could possibly take 5 hours?

Five years of meetings 2006-2010 times 12 = 60 meetings, plus a few this year. With maybe a few executive sessions for legal but those aren’t going to be released anyway because they are privileged.

5 hours x 60 minutes / 60 meetings = 5 minutes per meeting conversion.

Open file, save file as, next file: that takes five minutes? What kind of computer are they using, one from the beginning of time?

Or perhaps they were redacting as they converted?

How about seeing the signed copies? Do they have signed copies? The County Commission does, the ZBOA does.

The meeting minutes are not available from the Authority unless citizens file a formal request.
Um, why not? And of course having it cost prohibitive makes it so that poor (or even middle class) people can’t afford to participate.

They have a website. It would take about ten minutes to put the PDF of the minutes up there. OK, maybe ten hours with their demonstrated level of competence. But then any citizen could see them and nobody would have to spend more time or effort on this.

Wouldn’t it be to the Industrial Authority’s (and the community’s) advantage to have the minutes on the IA web site so that companies thinking of relocating here could see how many other great businesses and jobs have been attracted to our exclusive community?

That VLCIA won’t do this just makes everybody wonder what they have to hide.

-jsq & -gretchen

3 thoughts on “Industrial Authority Defensive about Minutes

  1. Shame

    Pretty strong commentary, still up on Valdosta Daily Times webpage. If I were the attorney on the Industrial Authority Board (Roy Copeland) I’d be more than a little concerned about how this is going to publicly play out.

  2. The Noll Family

    And as one of the comments on the website of the Valdosta Daily Times reads:
    “This is just another example of how “the good ole boys” conduct business in town. An Industrial Authority that stonewalls citizens as they attempt to exercise their right to request open records, indicating they have something to hide; a county commission led by a Chairman who has no respect for the First Amendment, as again witnessed by the decision to push the “citizens wishing to be heard” section all the way to the end of their meetings; city council members, who for months have been ignoring questions by the very citizens that have elected them, as again experienced at the most recent meeting. It is time for a change!
    We demand transparency. We demand that questions of citizens will be answered in a timely fashion. We demand that the make-up of the Industrial Authority, the Lowndes County Commission, and the City Council be changed, so that our city and county governments may again be of the people, by the people and for the people.”
    That pretty much sums it up!

Comments are closed.