Freedom of Information; Department of Fibbing?


In my article yesterday I asked the question,” why won’t elected officials just tell the truth and take the consequences rather than prattle on and try to make themselves look good”?

A week ago I submitted a Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) to the city of Goodyear. That was last Wednesday or Thursday August 10 or 11.  In it, I asked for copies of all written and electronic correspondence between the city of Goodyear and GEO Group, Inc. the private prison operators.  I expected to find evidence to show that as Gary Gibbs has suggested, city of Goodyear officials are saying one thing but doing another with the prison proposal because they need the tax revenues so they can keep spending for their political base, developers, city employees, and public unions.

The city of  Goodyear first deflected my request by telling me in an email August 12, that what I asked for was too broad. So on the same day, August 12, nearly 7 days ago, I modified my request to include only “Mayor and council, economic development, city manager and his directors, director of information and communications”.

On, Monday, nearly 4 days ago, on August 15 after city officials’ protestations appeared claiming that they have been all over this issue opposing it from the start “protecting all YOUR best interests”, I made my request even more concise and easier for Goodyear to respond to.  I limited the search time period to only the past 180 days.  But I also asked to see any correspondence between all the same city officials (plus the city attorney) and not just GEO Group, Inc. but also between the city and any Arizona legislators and the Arizona Department of Corrections.  This after reading public statements by Stipp, Osborne, and Georgia describing all the frantic work the city has been doing with each of these entities to oppose the prison.

Here is what Goodyear’s website says about information requests;

When can I expect a response to my request?

Most requests will be processed within 24 to 48 hours; however, at least 4 full business days should be allowed if records need to be retrieved from storage. Occasionally, legal review by the City Attorney may be necessary if issues of privacy or confidentiality arise. This may result in a longer delay in providing an appropriate response to your request.

Well none of my requests are coming from storage, I’m looking for only the past 180 days and what could be confidential about my request? Stipp and Georgia have already told you all that they’re doing all this work for the voters’ benefit.  They should want to get “all the details” out there.  I’m surprised that none of them have delivered all their good work voluntarily to the newspapers and me.

Nearly a week later and I’ve still not received anything from the city of Goodyear regarding my FOIA request.

I emailed the city yesterday and asked them how it’s going.  They said they were, “still waiting for some departments” to respond. I then asked them if they have even found anything at all yet to send me and they responded that they, “don’t fulfill by piece-mail”.

As Georgia wrote in the West Valley Screw;

“I assure you, city staff is diligently reviewing information about Perryville Prison dating from the 1980s and the current proposal is being scrutinized” and that “Legislators, the Department of Corrections, the GEO group, the State Attorney General and others have been contacted.”

Well, Georgia, I’m waiting to see all that correspondence and effort that you claim your city folks have been doing PRIOR to the August 10 public meeting.  I am also anxious to see evidence of all the effort that both you and Bill Stipp claimed was going on in your letters to concerned citizens. I’m still waiting for a reply to my Freedom of Information Request for all the details but based upon what city officials have been saying I expect to be getting a HUGE packet of information from them any day now.

GREAT COMMENT FROM BLOGGER Aaron;  “Maybe we can name the new prison after Mayor Lord?”

For those of you who have missed any of this, reproduced below are more of what Georgia and Stipp have been telling Goodyear voters;

Stipp email to his sister, Jewel White (he addressed her “Mrs. White”);

“while council is officially on break, city staff has been working diligently on details, proposals and concerns regarding the Perryville Prison matter. They have reached out to our legislators, the Governor’s office, the Department of Corrections, the GEO group, and others. The city attorney has had discussions with the state attorney general about concerns, details and objections regarding the selection of the site for the proposed expansion. The city manager has also had discussions about the location with the Department of Corrections and is aware of the situation, as well. Staff is looking into all aspects and objections raised by the city’s residents about the proposed expansion. They are actively working every angle to better understand the proposal to expand Perryville.”

and Georgia in an email to a resident;

 “The city is working hard and putting every effort into representing the citizens best interests. The process is not fast and it can be a difficult road, but I assure you we have been involved from the beginning” and ” let me offer you some comfort. The council, city staff and I have and will continue to diligently review the proposal and identify concerns regarding the proposed prison expansion. Staff members have reached out to our legislators, the Department of Corrections, the GEO group as well as and other decision makers. The city attorney has had discussions with the state attorney general about concerns, details and objections regarding the selection of the site for the proposed expansion. Staff is looking into all aspects and objections raised by the city’s residents about the proposed expansion. They are actively working every angle to better understand the proposal and express the concerns of our city and its residents.”

Notice how similar those two replies are.  Especially the last part about all the “angles” they are working.  I wonder which one of their lobbyist supporters is writing the script for them?

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5 Responses

  1. The prison will create jobs and city income.

    That’s a good thing.

  2. Please keep up the heat Howard and keep this issue on the front burner. The last thing Goodyear needs to be known as is a “prison town”. What a wonderful legacy for Georgia and her crew that will be. Sadly at Georgia’s and Wally’s advanced age it is Goodyear’s younger families that will be saddled with their terrible legacy.

    Maybe we can name the new prison after Mayor Lord?

  3. In answer to your question,”why won’t elected officials just tell the truth and take the consequences rather than prattle on and try to make themselves look good?”, I really believe that no matter on what level of government, our representatives are only out to protect themselves and to glean as many benefits from their position as humanly possible. Looking good, getting re-elected, maintaining existing personal benefits, etc., are all that they think about. If their constituents happen to benefit from anything that they do, that’s purely unintentional or accomplished for the purpose of making them look good.

  4. The name of the new prison can be “Lord’s Ward”.

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