Tuesday, April 09, 2013

SLC-Weekly: Activist Talks About Bringing Ogden Budget Out of the Shadows

Sodden question: When (if ever) will our home-town newspaper, the Standard-Examiner, get off its derriere and devote some ink to this story?

We have more news this morning concerning Ogden City political watchdog Dan Schroeder's herculean effort to pry Ogden City's line-item budget by means of Utah's Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) statutes this morning, as Salt Lake City Weekly provides additional public information about the details of Schroeders' several months-long government transparency quest:
For the first time during the public reporting of this story, SL-Weekly reporter Eric Peterson sheds light upon the question of why Ogden City at first refused to provide an electronic PDF copy (or alternatively an original database data file) of the originally-requested document, but then later "insisted on printing out the document and charging Schroeder 25 cents a page, for $169 in total printing costs," even though such an electronic copy could have been easily generated from the electronic "source" of the "printed" text version which was already "maintained by a city comptroller":
Ogden city administrator and spokesman Mark Johnson, however, said that the city resisted releasing the budget at first because they were unaware that there was a complete, printed-out version of the line-item budget in their possession. In researching the appeal, they discovered there was one maintained by a city comptroller. Johnson says the city was still reviewing the legality of the document when Schroeder sought to bring in the state records ombudsman to the discussion and so they decided not to participate in mediation.

As for why they chose to print the record out and charge $169, Johnson writes via e-mail that that decision was made “so that the city could keep track of the record provided and reduce the chance that the document could be manipulated.”
That's right, folks, Ogden City Administrator Mark Johnson's level of paranoia has ascended to the point where he (says he) believes (with a perfectly straight face) that Dan Schroeder, the very founder of the Ogden Ethics Project (and we are not making this up), might be capable of unethically "jiggering" the data.

Professor Schroeder has his own views on the city's ham-handed document production strategy, of course:
“I think it’s important if you are requesting documents from the government not to take up inordinate amounts of public employees’ time,” Schroeder says. “But when they insist on doing extra work so as to charge extra for it, that’s when I think something’s wrong.”
Notably, this story, which has all the makings of a David v. Goliath allegory, has been reported not once, but twice by the Salt Lake Tribune, and now, of course by SLC-Weekly.  Likewise, we've covered this story in depth on Weber County Forum from nearly day one. There's been not a peep, however from the Standard-Examiner, even though this locally-important story has been unfolding, as it were, right under the Standard's very journalistic nose.

It's in this context that we ask the sodden question:

When (if ever) will our home-town newspaper, the Standard-Examiner (which has been creepily silent on this story), get off its derriere and devote some ink to this story?

Given the Standard's careful inattention to this story, a cynic would conclude that the Standard (and Ogden City) may still have something to hide, yes?

Added Bonus Query: Ainnit about time that Ogden City issued Dan a full refund, along with a contrite mea culpa apology?

1 comment:

constructivist said...

I too am wondering when the SE is going to cover Dan's latest efforts.

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