Last week a city councilman berated the press for printing information about city finances.
This is an age-old tactic used by politicians when numbers and events make them look bad, and when constituents start holding them more accountable.
Politicians like it a lot better when no one is paying attention to what they are doing -- how they are spending the tax money that we work hard for and they take away from us.
The numbers the city politician was complaining about came actually from the city. They may not be correct, but those are the numbers the city gave us. The discrepancy was labeled a glitch in the system. Unfortunately this “glitch” seems to have existed for years and, to our knowledge, no one has even attempted to address the problem since Mayor Mike Hyneman and Councilmen George Mullen and Rich Rothwell left office.
The present mayor and council routinely unanimously approve the city’s list of expenditures every month with few, if any questions asked. This total often tops $1 million.
We have asked the city for more accounting information. On Sept. 4 we filed several Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.
We asked for all receipts and documentation in connection with the city council’s travel expenses.
We asked for a 12-month statement of expenses for the Lewis Johnson Senior Citizens Center. When the center first opened, we asked for a projected budget, but all we received was a long, rambling letter (which we published) that essentially said, “We don’t have the foggiest idea how much it will cost to operate.”
The facility has had many months of operation, and we assume the council receives a monthly operating printout that could easily be copied and shared with taxpayers. We assume the council receives monthly operating statements on all city departments. The taxpayers should have easy access to them also, but they don’t.
The city responded to our FOI requests Wednesday, stating that it would cost $154 to produce the information we asked for. We hand-delivered a check Wednesday morning and should receive the paperwork soon.
An Open Letter To Councilman Lewis Johnson
Sept. 13, 2013
Dear Mr. Johnson:
Thank you for your comments concerning this newspaper’s coverage of the Grenada City Council and Grenada City Government.
We share your desire for the most accurate and complete coverage possible.
We were delighted at your offer to share information on your travel expenses and the benefits of such travel.
We, like you, think the voters of Grenada would profit from an accurate accounting of what these trips have cost and what financial benefits your trips have brought home.
In connection with your kind offer, please send us an accounting of your last 10 years of travel expenses and a detailed list of all the grants and direct financial benefits these trip brought back to the city.
Concerning the grants, please list the matching components and out-of-pocket city expenses for each.
Again, we appreciate your kind offer to make this information available and we, like you, are vitally interested in presenting the voters of Grenada an accurate accounting of just what the city council is doing and how the council is spending tax money.
Joe Lee III