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Thursday, June 18, 2015

Public Info Request: City meetings @ Hooters; Competitive bids (contd use of Biltmore Construction)

Following are official Public Information Requests (PIR) sent to City Manager Edmunds requesting answers to questions, and documentation.  Instead of following FL State Law in providing requested information, Edmunds presented my PIRs to the City Council at the May 12, 2015 Meeting.  Mayor Waters then motioned to instruct Edmunds to "report to Council all communications from Councilor Plantamura", and authorized the Manager "to appropriately charge a fee for all public records by Councilor Plantamura that are not timely or relevant."  The motion passed.

Accordingly, in response to one PIR, attached is a request by Seminole management stating that I must pay more than $23.00 for copies of two receipts.  To date this PIR has not been filled.

Read text of email below, or click here for email PDF.
Click here for Hooters receipt 1 PDF.
Click here for Hooters receipt 2 PDF.
Click here for $23 fee request PDF.
Sent April 22, 2015
From: Patricia Plantamura
To: Frank Edmunds
Cc: Harry Kyne‎;  Patricia‎ Beliveau

RE:  Hooters Seminole Staff Meetings
       Competitive bidding for multiple Seminole projects completed by Biltmore Construction
       Public Information Requests

Good morning, Manager Edmunds (and Administrator Kyne), 

Since last summer a number of people in our community have contacted me with questions they would like answered. 

RE:  Hooters "Lunch Meeting(s) with Harry Kyne" City of Seminole Purchase Requisitions

Attached please find City of Seminole Purchase Requisitions for two separate "Lunch Meeting(s) w/ Harry Kyne" at Hooters.  From the itemized notes, it seems that these were meetings of Manager Edmunds with Administrator Kyne.  Since these Requisitions detail  the expenses as "Lunch Meetings" please provide me copies of  those Meeting Agendas,  and also the notes/minutes which were produced as a result.

RE:  Competitive bidding on multiple projects completed by Biltmore Construction (from my previous request for information made through Administrator Kyne when Manager Edmunds was out of town)

Community members have asked about Seminole's continuous use of only one company in our building projects, and whether Seminole is soliciting competitive bids for our projects.  I know that Manager Edmunds has a relationship with Biltmore Construction, but since he is resigning soon, we need to prepare ourselves for the next phase in Seminole. 

In my previous questions about Biltmore Construction, Administrator Kyne proposed the use of two employee days staff time to provide information.   I suggest that City employees confirm what is being requested before proceeding with potentially costly requests.  The simple information which I request should not take two full days to produce.

The information which I request has to do with competitive bidding.  Mr. Kyne's  related email names the projects which have all been completed in recent years, and all of these projects use the same company, Biltmore Construction.  His list consists of:
· our recently completed Community Building ($2,350,579 est.) 
· our Emergency Operations Center ($1,987,283) 
· PW garage building ($4,124,670) 
· Fire Station #30 renovation ($1,081,633) 
· Mr. Kyne's email also notes that "they have recently been awarded the Construction of Station 32."   

These are multi-million dollar projects.  If bids exist for those projects, I'd like to see the bids from the other companies considered, from which Seminole staff awarded/selected Biltmore.  If there are not bids, please provide me written explanation/reason for no competitive bids, so that I may share that information. 

RE:  Public Information Requests

At the Ethics Training last week, a question was asked about staff costs related to public information requests.  A City Clerk answered that question stating that providing information to the public is an employee's duty; it is not out of the ordinary but rather as an employee of the city, that is part of the job.  From Ethics Training I learned that public requests of information can be made of any employee, and lest Seminole be sued, as is happening in other cities, I trust that Seminole employees are trained, prepared and willingly provide timely information for all requests. 

Considering your policy of circulating whatever is requested by one Council member to all Council members, it occurs to me that, over my six years on Council, I have hardly ever received copies of information requested by other Council members.  From this, it appears that other Council members have rarely asked for information.  This tells me that Staff has not been overly tasked with information requests from Council members. 

Manager Edmunds, some months ago, I asked for information and your answer came in the form of voluminous binders of data which were given to every Council member. Council members indicated their displeasure at your action, and I also communicated that I considered your choice as a poor use of tax dollars.  Again now, in noting Administrator Kyne's proposal to spend two days staff time on a simple request, I am copying him (and City Clerk Beliveau) on this email so that he may know what is actually being requested.  As of this request and moving forward, please advise me before staff proceeds on any request I make which might exceed two hours time.  In those instances, also provide details which justify time and cost.  

At the ethics workshop the Attorney shared that there is a Florida statute fee schedule for public information requests.  Please provide that to me, along with any specific or additional fee schedule  which Seminole may be using for requests.  I will share that information with other people who are asking questions.

Please let me know by return email today when I will receive the information from each of the abovementioned requests.

Thank you.

Patricia Plantamura, Councilor
City of Seminole