Friday, September 4, 2015

Public Records Request follies

Thieves, thieves, thieves.  That is the word that came to mind last week when I got an invoice from the Jackson city clerk's office for a copy of the Goodwill Industries Zoning application.  The city charged $80 for a copy of a zoning app that was all of sixty pages.  $45 for copying charges and $35 for "staff costs".  Ridiculous.   

A citizen should be able to go in and see a zoning application on demand. Period.  There is nothing that draws the ire of voters as does a zoning problem, well, except for crime.  However, the city forces people to first file a public records request for a zoning application, makes them wait seven business days to get the records, and then pulls this crap and charges $80 for something that should be posted FOR FREE on the city website.   Hi, we're from the government and we are here to help you.

The cost for the Goodwill Industries app was $80.  The cost for all of the MDA Tourism Sales Tax Rebate applications was $50.  More than a few people were giving thanks for the posting of the MDA docs.   If you want to chip in for the costs of these documents, feel free to hit the donate button on the right or send a donation to

ATTN: Jackson Jambalaya
P.O. Box 1078
Ridgeland, MS 39158

We can have as good a public records party as y'all want to pay for. ;-)  


Anonymous said...

They probably had to hire a temp to do the work since Jackson City employees don't do shit all day.

Anonymous said...

These days they should just be able to let you look at the documents in the office at no charge. In most cases you could take a photo of what you're interested in with your phone and no copies would be needed. This is a clear effort to keep the public in the dark, but our gutless state leaders won't change anything because they might be expected to follow the rules too.

Muldoon said...

Lieutenant Graham could have gotten it for you for free. But, you'd have to be on speakin' terms.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile Young Harvey Yarber believes his own copious self-hype and takes some sort of pyrrhic victory lap for supposedly committing to government transparency.

Anonymous said...

Why is it not all available electronically?

Anonymous said...

Talk to Tom Hood. Ethics Commission has model rules (that are now enforceable) for all agencies to follow regarding public records access including costs for records access.

Anonymous said...

If you don't get anywhere talking to Tom Hood, talk to Tom Head. He's the one who really knows what's going on around here.

Anonymous said...

While we are exposing documents and rackets, we need to talk about police reports and this Report Beam scam where everyone who wants a copy has to pay $25.

Hom Ted said...

1:22 goes immediately in the 'runner up' category. lol.

Anonymous said...

Hizzhonor the less than honorable Mayor has said that starting a week or so ago, our fair City was going to be absolutely transparent. All information was going to be readily available to the public. The citizens were entitled to know everything about what its City is doing.

Guess that was just another of his hyperbole, and lies. Or else, just shows how deep into his own ego-belief he is that shows again how he doesn't have a clue about how his administration operates.

But damn, KF. You know that now that the City Clerk's office has increased to almost two dozen employees over the past couple of years, they have to find some way to pay the overly staffed bureaucracy down on the west end of President Street. All them folks need jobs, you know.

Anonymous said...

The Mississippi Ethics Commission website says that public bodies should NOT charge more than 10 cents a page. AND, they cannot charge more than the actual cost of making the documents available. If they charge for staff time, then they can't charge more that the actual cost of copying, which is probably more like 4 cents a page.

Charging $45 for copying and $35 for "staff costs" is just unconscionable, and probably illegal. The City Attorney's Office is so stupid, though, they can't read the statutes, and certainly they can't fathom legislative intent, from those statues. It's probably going to take a judge to actually read them the case law, along with the statue.

This conduct is SOP for the City of Jackson. WHY? WHY? Why does the City Council tolerate this bullshit from every administration. Most of the shit is already electronic and usually already in somebody's email.

KF, You ought to file for declaratory judgment against the city and force their hands on this.

Also, how in the hell does any of this jive with Yarber's BIG talk this week about transparency in government and putting everything online. He even issued an executive order - No. 2015-06.

What a bunch of crap. He says one thing and his own damn lawyers and clerks do something TOTALLY opposite. He's either lying or stupid. Wonder which one it is. politics as usual downtown.

Dale Danks, how about taking this one on and see if you can foreclose on City Hall again!!

Anonymous said...

An asphalt producer told me that many times City of Jackson Dump trucks fill up with several tons of asphalt and then go ride around for a while, and then they come back and dump the asphalt. So they have to make money somewhere to pay for this Kingfish.

Kingfish said...

The Mayor does not govern the City Clerk's office. The city clerk is supervised by the City Council. The city council hires and fires the clerk. The Mayor has no veto power over its decisions regarding the clerk.

Anonymous said...

You guys will believe anything about Jackson and its Mayor as long as it is bad, bad, bad. There is a grant to put everything on line; can't happen in a week! Good grief you all would s**t in your own bed just to try and make things worse. As far as what KF was charged, I would print out a copy of that particular statute and take it to the City Clerk's office. I believe you will find that our City Attorney is competent to read same. Or, you can always go for Public Comment before each City Council Meeting. Have to sign up to comment before the meeting's scheduled time.

Anonymous said...

Public Comment at City Council as a solution?? You ought to be writing for DonnerKay if you don't have any more sense than that. All public comment is created for is so that the idiots can all get their mugs on camera for the 'hood.

Yes, as a resident of Jackson who has had plenty of 'up close and personal' connection with this administration I have come to the conclusion that they are not capable of managing anything, much less a business as big as our City. All of their actions has proven this - and the idiocy shown by this billing for a public record is nothing more than one little small example of this incompetency.

If the City was competent, it would not need a 'copy of the statute' printed out and shown to it - they have to deal with public records requests every day. They should already know the statute - that's one of the requirements of their job for which they are getting massively overpaid.

No - I don't want to make things worse. I have been fighting in the ditches to make them better. But this current administration - the Mayor and the majority of the Council - has convinced me that there is little hope with this bunch as bad as I wanted to believe differently after the last election.

And KF - it doesn't matter who 'hires' the clerk. The policy is that of the city. Just like the other 'policies' established to make sure contracts are directed toward the favored few, that hiring is limited to those that meet the political clearance, that consultants are selected on criteria that assures the favored few are awarded and others excluded. If the Mayor issues an 'executive order' about transpency, it applies to the City Clerk's office along with the other departments. If he really meant what he said, which as he has proven before, is not the case.

Hubert Umphrey said...

The City Clerk must also be in charge of street maintenance.

Anonymous said...

Kingfish, have you ever thought about adding a section to JJ that is a repository for interesting state documents? Traffic would no doubt spike. Maybe include detailed budgets from agencies which include employee names and salaries, including universities. I think the public would be wide-eyed to see the salaries some people at our universities (cough UMMC) are making as "public servants." Any agencies who give you trouble getting the information, well that would sure make for a worthwhile blog post.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS