The people hold the power (August 13, 2015)

The Brown Act says, The people insist on remaining informed, so that they may remain in control over the instruments which they have created. That language is about as clear as it can get as to why I and many of my neighbors in Apple Valley are asking the Town of Apple Valley so many questions through public records requests. Those requests have nothing to do with harassing anyone or driving up costs. What’s my proof? Who pays the costs associated with these requests if it isn’t the taxpayer? Why would I punish myself? If the town’s published costs or document counts are accurate, why is so much being withheld from the public? Who knew so many documents were being hidden from the public view?

What we get from the town when we ask questions under the California Public Records Act, are smug responses from our council and worse yet, from those employed by the town who are OUR employees. I’m only referring to our council and upper management here — not all of our employees. Those in positions of power delay their responses in violation of the law. They claim nearly everything is protected by attorney-client privilege, or some other exemption. The town attorney must review every document first before it is released. At their last council meeting, they used our names in public to ostracize those of us who ask questions and publish how much we have cost them to do their jobs by keeping those who are interested; informed.

Why must the town attorney get paid to review every single document? What are they worried about releasing by mistake? Why are there hundreds of thousands of documents the public has never seen? The staff letter presenting these issues is usually only a page long when items are discussed before the council. Where do you suppose the saying, You can’t fight City Hall originated? From the very people who hijacked control over the instruments the people reserve the right to retain control over. This shall not stand and I will continue to attempt to remain informed, in spite of my council and their management goons’ personal attacks!

— David Mueller, Apple Valley