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Tom (Yusha) Sager
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Friday, August 7, 2009

Response to Council members
Louis Magdits and Stan Spadoni
concerning the sunshine law, secrecy, accountability and open government

Date: Friday, August 7, 2009 2:04 PM
From: Tom Sager
To: City Council, Mayor Bill Jenks, John Butz
Cc: Steffanie Rogers
Subject: Sunshine Law, Secrecy, Accountability and Open Government (response to Council members Magdits and Spadoni)

Dear Rolla City Council, mayor Jenks and city administrator Butz:

First: I wish to thank Mr. Spadoni for making the below exchange available to a wide audience. I really appreciate receiving a copy. I understand that Mr. Magdits' email, although an open record under State Law, was not meant to be viewed by a wide audience. I appreciate the fact that Mr. Spadoni is not obsessed with secrecy like Mr. Magdits and others in city government.

Second: Let me point out that this is not the first time the subject of denying Council members access to members of City government has been explored. The 1997 proposed City Charter contained the provision: Sec. 3.7(c): [T]he members of the City Council shall deal with the City administrative officials and employees solely through the City Administrator or his designee. This provision, along with Sec 7.10(c) on levying a City income tax, were among the most onerous provisions in a document that was so onerous that it was rejected by the voters on the strength of a $250 campaign waged by a small group of citizens, in spite of a well-financed campaign in favor of it. Mr. Magdits, who was a member of the City Council at the time, along with Monty Jordan (also member of Charter Commission), Don Barklage, Susan Eudaly and Jim Williams are no doubt aware of what the voters thought of this document and the provisions in it for creating a bureaucratic government virtually beyond the contol of the people's representatives. I find it indeed sad that Mr. Magdits chooses to bring this up again secretly at a time like this; and that Mr. Spadoni chooses to endorse such a proposal.

I would like to suggest that Mr. Magdits' basic error is his contention that the city should be run like a private business. The city is run by and for its residents: all of them, not just the high and mighty. Council represents the people who elected them; and staff, including Mr. Butz, are answerable to the people who, through taxes, pay their salaries, and in particular, to those whom the people elect to serve them.

Neither Mr. Magdits, Mr. Butz, nor anyone else in city government is in a position to determine what information "is truly for the public good," nor what information "should or should not be released." This is why we have a Sunshine Law. Follow it: both in spirit and in letter.

Third: I find this obsession with secrecy revealing. People who resort to such secrecy generally have much to hide. There is a very simple, effective solution to this impasse: Simply give Council member Hawley the open documents and information she requests. I would like to suggest that the rest of you take the trouble to read these documents too. You might find them informative and helpful in making the decisions that deeply effect our city.

Yours sincerely,

Tom Sager


From: Stan Spadoni []
Sent: Saturday, August 01, 2009 2:30 PM
To: magdits
Cc: City Council; John Butz; billjenks
Subject: Re: Sunshine Law Request - Payroll and CID

Lou, I agree I said this before that all requests for information should be directed to John. John could write a Policy ref what requests should be directed to him. I'm sure the staff has to take the time to go to John in most cases before they release any information anyway. Stan


From: magdits
To: 'John Butz'
Cc: 'Mark Walburg' ; ; 'Don Morris' ; 'Eudaly, Sue' ; ; ; ; 'Monty Jordan' ; ; ; 'Mayor Bill Jenks'
Sent: Friday, July 31, 2009 1:14 PM
Subject: RE: Sunshine Law Request - Payroll and CID

I do not know how the rest of you feel about this exchange
[concerning Council member Donna Hawley's requests for open records and open information. -ed.] however I think it has gone far enough especially given the fact that city staff is trying to prepare the budget and John has had a very trying few weeks.

I think Donna uses the Sunshine Law to the point of abuse and I for one am willing to have her file a complaint in Jeff City . I also think that we as a council should adopt a policy that a city councilperson should direct all inquires for information to John Butz and not staff. Staff works for John not us and it is unfair for us to put someone like Steffanie in a position like this. John can make the determination as to what information should and should not be released and when. He needs to set the priorities of his employees not any one of us.

I also think John has the right to question if the request for information (under the Sunshine Law) is truly for the public good. I cannot see how Donna’s fishing trips are for the public good. Perhaps some are and I would be open minded enough to listen to and accept those that are.

It is time for us to step up and offer John some support on this issue or it will only magnify as time goes on

Lou Magdits