Hypocrisy in a Board Meeting
Only a few weeks ago, our board pledged their undying allegiance to transparency and yet they've worked overtime to become even less transparent. That is unless that transparency is used against a resident. You see the majority gang up on Trustee Odom who brought a resident concern to the board because she didn't go behind closed doors and craft a message with them about how everything is a-ok. No, she knew residents have concerns which means that residents want to SEE and HEAR the responses. So, the board did the right thing at the end of February -- they tabled the financials pending a review. Then a couple of Trustees did research -- however, instead of being transparent and adding the review to the board packet so that the rest of the Trustees and the public could follow along -- they Weaponized Transparency to attempt to humiliate Trustee Odom and any resident who is trying to watch our financials.
How is this ok? When did we praise the school yard bully? Why are we not just silencing resident concerns, but openly mocking them? This is what needs to end.
So let's do our review of the board meeting:
Humor Note -- Apparently, Phil's Gaming Microphone wasn't working last night -- so, can we all agree that was good money spent??
Reminder of the Disaster Proclamation --
This is where Phil tries to convince us that he's looking out for our health by not allowing even a hybrid in person/remote meeting structure. This is despite many of our surrounding municipalities allowing for some in person setting -- but then again, most of our neighbors video their meetings to post online, so why should we keep up with the times. The good news is that we have one more board meeting before the election and after the election we should be able to start moving to in person again.
Phil Defends his Lakewood Ledger:
He claims getting the truth about the village is his guiding principles and that is the goal of his Lakewood Ledger. Additionally, he says that this has been done every year for the past few years.
The actual complaint is that the timing, style, and information included (and excluded) in his rush Winter 2021 Ledger is more tailored to a campaign piece and not aa residential informational piece. Also, there are distinct issues with the 'facts' provided in this piece, follow my overview here. And unlike the examples he shared, there are key differences in the pieces. These differences truly highlight how different this $3,400 booklet is than a true newsletter.
One thing to note: the Spring 2021 Newsletter is not currently on the village website (as the CAO stated) as of the typing of this post.
Here's the past three year end Ledgers or village newsletters for comparison to the 8 page glossy sales pitch we all got in our mail.
Details: on our village website there's a section of posted Newsletters. If you click through the SIX posted since the Year in Review 2017 that Past President Serwatka wrote, you will see a few things:
All except for Paul's and Phil's latest that is not posted in the Newsletter section but in multiple places on the home page have resident information -- like what is in the Spring Newsletter in my utility bill.
You will notice that other than Paul's and Phil's latest, the list of accomplishments for the village are a tight summary in the form of a President's letter. Interim President Carl Davis' was a bit over a page, but only highlighted five accomplishments with a brief explanation. You'll also notice that the 2019 summary from Phil is a simple 2 page affair with one page being his letter.
Did anyone catch that Phil said that they had to change the striping because if they used a double yellow people wouldn't be able to turn into their driveways? I found this statement to be incredibly odd for someone who worked in Streets and Sewers for 30 years -- but maybe that's because he isn't familiar with the rules of striping? It appears that Phil is confusing a double yellow (which is used to divide oncoming traffic and indicate no passing zones) with a painted median (normally seen as a double double yellow). Do not fear, you may cross a double yellow to turn into a private driveway. I only call this out because it's really a non explanation to why the road program was over budget and frankly, was just odd.
We end our evening with comments orchestrated by Trustee Berman regarding my recent FOIA. I've complied with the village's request to narrow my request -- but I find it completely hypocritical to claim that my request is wasting time when he personally cost this village over $5,000 on his baseless objections without apology. He accused multiple families in this village of a felony and wants to claim that he is affronted with any of the accusations made of lax oversight of this board. His one job is financial oversight and he spends far more time trying to humiliate residents than actually doing to his job.
So, let's discuss FOIAs briefly: Yes, there's been a metric ton of FOIAs -- and looking through the log, I'll freely admit that some don't make sense to me. But that's really not for me to judge. What I can say is that the claim that FOIAs are costing the village a ton of money isn't actually the case. For example, Trustee Berman's baseless objection cost the village over $5,000 in January -- my favorite line items are the multiple hours the law firm had to sit with Doug Ulrich who was on a single board of the four hearings. His prep with the lawyer was 4.25 hours (or $743) just for what? At the beginning of the month, it appears that Trustee Augustine sat with the lawyer about the objection hearing -- but that was it. As that first line item describes three items, I divided equally to get Trustee Ulrich's estimated time.
Calculated at 1.25 hours for Ulrich.
Calculated at 1.5 hours for Ulrich.
Calculated at 1.5 hours for Ulrich.
In that same month, I see about 8 hours (there are a few line items that list multiple activities so I evenly divided the hours) for FOIA requests and PAC referrals. That's only $1,400. This means that Doug's time alone for his personal prep for his few seconds of time on the board cost the village HALF of what the FOIAs and PAC referrals for the same month.
Yes, I can see clearly why Trustee Berman feels the need to call me out because I dare to use the FOIA to learn something -- you know, since our CAO/Finance Director/Budget Officer refuses to take my calls or respond to my emails asking for information -- it's frankly, my only recourse to gain knowledge. I can see why Trustee Berman thinks that FOIAs are the problem -- it's certainly not any of our trustees who are abusing their 'power' and using their time in board meetings to berate residents when they can't respond.