To the Editor: Citizens should be free to get information

My Public Records Act (PRA) requests you are having so much heart burn over seem to be soliciting a very obstructive attitude on your part.

Our Government is designed to be transparent, and citizens are to be free to get  the information they want. Why is it then that you are not eager to fulfill these requests when they come through?  Even to the point of trying to be obstructive and penalize citizens when they ask for their information.

Consider the selected enclosed email of May 3 from yourself to Ron Strand and Ricca Charlon, obtained via one of these PRA requests.  In it you talk like you think you are at somebody’s  mercy when you are required to fulfill California law in responding to such requests.  You go much further then and discuss wanting to strategize how to “Stop personalities like this through the use of actual cost.”  You then take it further in showing results of your time spent researching what you call Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) requests.   Of course, Ron Strand replies affirmatively and agrees to use our expensive City Attorney’s time to find ways to try and repress PRA requests.

So, is it that you feel above the citizens of Ridgecrest and not accountable? Or maybe you have communications you would rather not be made public. What’s the problem here?  You readily fall back on California law when you don’t want to accommodate citizen’s request, but balk when you yourself are required to follow it.

Well I say -  tough. You wanted the job so much you spent $20,000 to get your 37% vote in to be Mayor.   It’s time to start acting like one.  Quit trying to obstruct citizens who are availing themselves of their rightful access to your public servant communications.

Your little tactic isn’t working by the way. I will find out if this is legal at all for the City to charge their newly inflated fees for a PRA request fulfillment even when all the documentation is on a computer.  I will likewise point out publicly what a repressive attempt to squelch City transparency this is, with you being the originator of it. In the mean time, it is a pleasure to pay to continue to hold your feet to the fire.    Your little scheme isn’t working for you.

Freedom to the good people of Ridgecrest

Not Very Respectfully,

Mike Neel

Story First Published: 2021-09-24