Citizens should be able to access information easily from the District of New Berlin and understand how government officials are spending taxpayers’ money. The District should be sharing information willingly with its citizens.
But instead, the District seems to prefer secrecy to transparency. Getting information from that government entity sure can be a hassle.
On November 8, 2010, I sent the District an email requesting three records and asking some questions about District spending and finances --- including questions concerning the cost of the District Office makeover. More than 3 months after I sent that inquiry, I was contacted by a lawyer retained by the District, who told me the District’s administrators were not going to answer my questions or meet with me. See my previous blog post.
I raised the issue in a privilege of the floor speech at the February 28 School Board meeting.
On March 24, I sent School Board Treasurer Art Marquardt an email asking him what the renovation, remodeling and redecoration of the District Office undertaken during Dr. Kreutzer’s tenure had cost. In his April 13 email, Marquardt responded, “I am not in possession of that information”. He posted a comment to my blog suggesting he had better things to do than care about the District Office’s paint job.
Unable to get answers to my questions regarding the cost of the District Office transformation, I decided to put my inquiry in the form of an Open Records Request. On May 3, I emailed Superintendent Kreutzer and Asst. Superintendent Garza a request to inspect all records which pertain to the cost/expenditures of renovation, remodeling, re-decorating of the District Office that occurred during Dr. Kreutzer’s tenure with the District. I also asked to be notified in advance if there was any fee for that service.
At the May 23 School Board Meeting, I gave a privilege of the floor speech informing the school board and anyone else listening that I’d gotten no response whatsoever to my May 3 records request. That night, I also submitted a formal complaint to the District expressing dissatisfaction with its handling of my information/records requests.
The next evening (May 24), the District responded via its lawyer, who emailed me what she called “the responsive records” to my May 3 records request, in a PDF “attachment”.
On May 31, the District emailed me a message conveying that since the District had responded to my records request, they considered the matter-- and my complaint-- resolved. Well, I don’t. I’d been in the District Office and seen the extensive remodeling/décor changes. After reviewing the records the District provided, I concluded (for several reasons) the District’s response was incomplete, insufficient and unsatisfactory. But more about that later.
Note that my request was to inspect all records which pertain to the cost/expenditures of renovation, remodeling, redecorating of the District Office that occurred during Dr. Kreutzer’s tenure with the District. In response, the District (via its lawyer) sent 13 documents (most of which are unsigned purchase orders).
Here’s what those records convey:
12/18/08 Don’s Floor Covering Carpet (customer supplied) installed District Office rooms #12, #13, vinyl base $ 580.00
2/3/09 Sallmann Painting Time & Material not to exceed $ 25, 050.00
2/6/09 Sallmann Painting Paint black: all District Office heat vents, covers, oak doors, frames, windows, all wood cabinets and paneling in Garza & Kreutzer’s offices; paint Tech office paneling white $10, 000.00
3/2/09 Don’s Floor Covering Carpet (customer-supplied) installed in Administrative Offices, vinyl base $ 2, 210.00
6/30/09 DH Graphics & Signs Wall Display installed , Letters and Photo Mounts $ 2, 437. 91
7/7/09 Bartlett Electrical LLC Curriculum Room Wiring $ 825.00
7/20/09 DH Graphics & Signs Laser-cut black letters, install lettering on wall areas $ 1,115.00
9/17/09 Sallmann Painting Paint ceiling/tile grates in conference room & cabinet $ 570.00
10/22/10 Don’s Floor Covering Conference Room carpet (material and labor) $ 1, 734.00
10/22/10 Mortenson Co. New Dividable Conference Room in District Office $ 11, 871.00
10/22/10 Quality Ceilings Install White Grid and Accoustical Panels $ 1, 410.00
10/22/10 Marshfield Book & Stationery Conference Room tables, chairs,shell desks, desk chairs, files/file pedestals, markerboard; stack- on units total $10,168.00
subtract $1,284.00 for Poplar Creek files and hanging racks--------- $ 8, 884.00
10/22/10 DH Graphics & Signs
Acrylic graphics, ICON/Expect Excellence Laser-cut black vinyl ( Logo and “Expect Excellence”) Icon, “stars” full-color Smaller text HP black vinyl. On-site installation (walls) ----- $ 551.00
According to my math, these cost figures total $ 67, 237. 91
Part 2. To be continued………….