Editor, After eight weeks of trying to get a DVD of the Sept. 14 Ludowici City Council meeting — the first to be recorded in Ludowici City Hall — I was finally told that it would be available to me. Up until this point, city hall had referred my request to the city attorney’s office and I was told they didn’t have to create a disc for me.
I spoke with the mayor and she told me to get my lawyer to talk with theirs because she didn’t know the law. Of course they know I don’t have a lawyer.
After going to the city attorney’s office I met with Kate Smith to show her my booklet that the state sent me about the information I could legally receive. She informed me that I was wrong, so I guess, in turn, the state was wrong.
I decided to reconnect with the attorney general’s office. I had already sent several pages to them weeks before. On Nov. 18, I received a letter from the attorney general’s office, which acts as a mediator, and the enclosure informed me that the city would indeed have to give me a copy of those recorded minutes.
I originally asked for a CD and they claimed they couldn’t create one because the recording of the meeting minutes is on the hard drive of a computer. It was 10 weeks before I was given this DVD and I had to pay $26 because nobody on the city payroll was able to make me a DVD. The DVD itself only cost $1.
Chad Brooker with Economic Technologies put in the system. He has been at the city hall numerous times over these eight weeks and could have made a copy while he was there. The charge was because of his travel time, but isn’t that city hall’s fault? There should be some-one at city hall who can perform this task so the public would only be charged for the time of the lowest-paid employee. This is a state law regarding open records: 50-18-71(d).
After picking up the DVD that evening, I tried to watch it only to realize that it was just audio. Their excuse was that Chad had to pick up a part and then he could get video as well. Since then, however, I have been told that Kate Smith says I only asked for a CD and didn’t request video, so I won’t get it.
On Dec. 12, I turned in another request for the DVD and asked plainly for the DVD of the Sept. 12 meeting with video and audio. Why is it they don’t want me to have this item?
This is our government at work — it’s all about secrets. Did you know a budget is supposed to be adopted each year? The last so-called budget that was voted on was January 2009.
In 2010 there has been no budget voted on because there is no budget. How do they know what they can spend all of our money on?
The taxes have apparently been a mess. I was told by an employee that I couldn’t get copies of the delinquent taxes because they didn’t know who had paid or not and they didn’t want to give me an inaccurate list.
If I had pressed the issue, legally, I should have been given these records whether they’re right or wrong. I also asked for the 2009 audit at the beginning of July and, to date, they do not have one.
I even called the auditor who told me a copy would be at city hall the next week. This was at least three months ago. I think a change in auditor is necessary because, apparently, he disregards the law.
— Janis M. Goode