NOTHING EARTH SCHATTERING

 

 

Same old Stuff.

It seems Ms. Pfister wasn’t clear exactly what my Public Records Request was so I tried to clear it up for her. Copies of our email interaction yesterday are provided below as well as a small amount of background demonstrating where we stand. Ms. Pfister seems to be saying in her email that what I have received, and the CD I will receive are all that the City has, regarding the Cotton/Straub issue that SHE has knowledge of.

It is unclear to me whether or not the CD contains all text messages and emails from the people involved or not. I don’t know whether or not Ms. Pfister had sought records beyond just asking for them via email as she noted in her 10/10/15 (Below) email to me or simply relied on people or Departments within the City to comply.

You might keep in mind that Bob Dunn, Monique Cotton’s attorney, publicly stated that there were text messages supporting her claim of sexual harassment, I haven’t found those in what I have been provided to date, nor have I found any text messages between Mayor David Condon and anyone else involved in this mess.

 

I realize this is pretty long, but I did shorten it up considerably considering the overall picture.

YESTERDAY’S EMAIL FROM MS. PFISTER (12/9/15)

Mr. Breen:

This is a follow up to my email to you below and is in further response to your November 27, 2015, email, also below.

Under Item No. 1 of your email, clarification is needed.    I am not clear from the information and statements provided under this portion of your request as to what you may be requesting from us.  Are you asking that we proceed with performing redactions of those emails that were contained on the Exemption/Redaction Logs provided? Please clarify.  No request has been made at this time by the other requesters for us to proceed with performing redactions on the emails contained on the Exemption Log.  Are you wanting to appeal whatever redactions were made on the records provided to you under the attached response?  The only thing redacted in the records provided on November 24 is a personal cell phone number.  Please clarify.   Pending clarification from you, if you were to ask for a review of the redactions made or exemptions claimed, to the best of my knowledge and understanding, we would not be able to utilize the State Attorney General’s Office to perform the review since they are an outside agency; and, if we provided them (State Attorney General) un-redacted copies of the emails, we would then no longer be able to claim the exemptions applied.

Under Item No. 2, I will place the CD in the mail to you tomorrow.  The copy fee for the CD is $4, plus postage of 92 cents for a total due of $4.92, with check or money order made payable to the City of Spokane. Please remit payment within 30 days of this email, or by January 7, 2016.

For Item No. 3 of your request, I am unclear as to what remaining text messages you may be awaiting receipt of.  As part of the installment of records provided to you on September 29, I provided you a zip file containing the text messages located by Police Department employee Angie Napolitano’s phone.  I provided you another copy of the texts on October 30, 2015.  On November 24, 2015, I provided you a copy of an Excel file labeled “Sanders – Notes and Cell Records_Redacted.PDF.”  Please clarify what remaining text messages you are awaiting.  You indicated the time frame for your request to be January 1, 2015 through September 5, 2015.   As I referenced in my November 2 email response there were some text messages located in response to the Spokesman request and which have since been released; however, those text messages fall between the time frame of April 2013 and August 2014.  Are those the text messages you are referring to and wanting to obtain a copy of?  You emailed me on November 2, 2015, and stated: “I am only asking that you are responsive to my Public Records Request so that I have all the documents I requested including text messages. How you respond to my request is entirely up to you.”  What remaining text messages are you awaiting receipt of? Who in the City possesses such records?  If you have specific knowledge of any remaining texts in the City’s possession that are responsive to your request and that have not yet been made available, please clarify and advise as to what individual or individuals in the City possess such records and we would be happy to look further into this portion of your request.

Under Item No. 4 of your request, I have not provided any type of third-party notification to the Spokesman Review or its employees.   Please clarify what you mean by this.  Also, please clarify what, if any, records you are attempting to seek under this portion of your email.  Sufficient clarification of the identifiable records you are seeking will be needed in order for us to proceed with a diligent search for responsive records, if any.

Under my email to you yesterday, I provided you copies of the requested Deshais requests.

In response to your question under No. 6, due to the number of emails contained on the log, in the interest of time and other workload, we provided the log as electronically generated.  If you would like us to add a column and manually fill in recipient name(s), please advise and we will then let you know the time frame needed to do that.  In addition, if you would like us to proceed with the redaction of the emails as listed on the log, please advise, and we will then let you know of the anticipated time frame needed to perform the redactions.

With respect to the pending email review, in my November 24 response, I indicated that I would let you know when a first installment of emails was available.  However, I realized in looking back at my October 30 email response to you that I have not received the clarification I was seeking.  You did respond with the comments as reflected under Item No. 3; however, that does not assist with clarifying if or how you would like us to proceed on the email review.   Please provide a confirmation that you would like us to proceed with a review of the 44,500 hits as referenced in my October 30 email to you.  Due to the time and resources involved in reviewing this number of emails and in light of other workload, I feel it prudent to seek this confirmation from you.  I look forward to your confirmation and or clarification in this regard at your earliest convenience.

 

MY RESPONSE (12/9/15)

 

Ms. Pfister,

Please refer to the copy below which is the second page of my September 5th, 2015 Public Records Request. I have also attached copies.

I specifically requested all available text messages by stating this “immediately take the necessary steps to protect and maintain any and all public documents transmitted or contained on public or private computers or cell phones used at any time or by any method for conducting public business with special attention given to but not limited to the following City of Spokane Employees or Elected Officials; David Condon, Theresa Sanders, Nancy Isserlis, Brian Coddington, Heather Lowe, Frank G Straub, Monique Cotton, and Leroy Eadie.”

In my view it is quite clear my request was for all next messages from anyone who has them and I asked that you pay special attention to certain individuals, but not limit your search for records to those individuals. I will again remind you that Mayor David Condon stated on the Mike Fitzsimmons radio show the he and “Frank” were going over their text messages and they would be provided to me. Obviously based on recent media reports there may be documents within the Fire Department, the Parks Department, as well as the Police Department and the Condon Administration, I am only asking a diligent search be done for the records I have requested and they be supplied.

If a diligent search has been conducted by you including reviewing the cell phones and interviewing the users and you have been unable to locate any other responsive documents, please advise me.

With respect to redactions and exemptions. To be very clear I object to any and all redactions made or claims of exemptions made as a result of my request.

 

To clear this up: ” Under Item No. 4 of your request, I have not provided any type of third-party notification to the Spokesman Review or its employees.   Please clarify what you mean by this.  Also, please clarify what, if any, records you are attempting to seek under this portion of your email.  Sufficient clarification of the identifiable records you are seeking will be needed in order for us to proceed with a diligent search for responsive records, if any.”

I thought I was clear when I stated this in my original request,

” further request any and all formal or informal public records request documents made by the Spokesman Review Newspaper regarding complaints or allegations against any and all employees of the City of Spokane including any and all elected officials, such documents to included email or text messages received by or sent from computers or cell phones public or private used to transact public business.”

To be clear I request text messages and emails between City Employees/Officials and Spokesman Review Owners or Employees concerning this issue. I apologize if I wasn’t clear in the beginning.

 

I hope this helps, if not please don’t hesitate to contact me.

 

 

______________________________

 

SOME BUT NOT ALL BACKGROUND

Pfister to Breen 9/29/15 (IT WILL TAKE ONE YEAR TO COMPLY)

With respect to your request for emails, the City’s IT Department has performed a search in the City’s Enterprise Vault (email storage) system.  The parameters utilized for the search are, as follows:

 

1/1/2015 – 9/5/2015

(complaint AND cotton) OR (allegation AND cotton) OR (complaint AND straub) OR (allegation AND straub) OR (transfer AND cotton) OR (complaint AND spokesman) OR (allegation AND spokesman)

 

This search returned approximately 11,000 hits.  The emails will now need to be reviewed for responsiveness to your request and for any exempt information.    At this time, due to the size of the email review and based on our present work load, we estimate requiring at minimum a one-year period of time within which to perform a review of the emails and to conclude your request.  If additional time is needed, we will advise you accordingly.  Likewise, if we are able to conclude the review sooner, we will let you know. 

 

Before we proceed with a review of the emails, please confirm that the parameters utilized for the search are satisfactory to you.  In the alternative, if you wish to make any modifications in the search parameters, please advise.  We would respectfully request that you get back to us at your earliest convenience, or at least by no later than October 9, 2015, as to whether you are satisfied with the search parameters or whether you have any modifications that you would like made in the parameters.

 

Breen to Pfister 9/30/15

 

Ms. Pfister,

Please understand I consider the records you have provided thus far to be un-responsive to my request in a number of areas. Please carefully review my request as to specifics. It is not surprising that the search criterion the City used resulted in “11,000 hits” I will work on a refined search criteria and provide it soon. I realize the production of text messages is somewhat new to you folks but again please review my FOIA and the individuals described. I am aware that some of the documents you have provided me were also provided to the media, however I am requesting production of documents separate and different from any media requests.

 

I feel we should be able to work this out as long as every effort is made on the City’s part to be transparent, follow the PRA and subsequent court cases which apply.

 

Breen to Pfister 10/6/15

Ms. Pfister:

 

As you requested here are some additional search criterion for emails during the time frame I listed.

 

(Cotton AND Fire Department) or (Monique AND Fire Department) or (Cotton AND Park Department) or Monique AND Park Department) or (Frank AND Monique) or (Straub AND Cotton) (Monique AND Condon) or (Spokesman AND Cotton) or (Hatch and Straub) or (Hatch and Straub) or (Graham AND Cotton) or (Graham and Monique) or (Graham and Straub) 0r (Monique AND Transfer) or (Review and Cotton) or (Cotton AND Salary) or (Monique and Pay)

Please pay special attention to emails to and from the following:

garyg@spokesman.com

jonathanb@spokesman.com

nickd@spokesman.com

addyh@spokesman.com

alisonb@spokesman.com

 

I believe I have made it quite clear that I am seeking all records regarding the issue involving the transfer of Monique Cotton out of the Spokane Police Department. Also please recall I have specifically requested in those documents that mention Lt. Mark Griffiths of the Spokane Police Department. I also request an explanation of the redactions based on a claim of Attorney Client Privilege. Please recall the I have also requested that any further copies of text messages include the phone identifiers.

 

 

Pfister to Breen 10/10/2015 (Emails sent to City Departments and Lt. Griffiths)

 

As I mentioned in my September 29 email to you, aside from the pending email review, I will follow up with you on or about October 30, 2015, to advise as to what if any additional documents have been located in response to your request.

 

With respect to my September 30, 2015 email to you, and in light of your October 1 email, I wanted to provide additional information as to the redactions of information on the previously provided documents labeled “HR Records – Redacted.pdf” and the attachment labeled “PRR-ATM00276Redaction.pdf.”  The redacted information in these documents consists of privileged communications between attorney and client wherein opinions are expressed and/or include advice sought or given in the course of the attorney client relationship, and the information is deemed exempt pursuant to RCW 5.60.060(2)(a) (Privileged communications) and Hangarnter v. Seattle, 151 Wn.2d 439 (2004). If you require any further clarification of the redactions made, please let me know.

 

In relation to your October 1 email, this is to advise that your request has been forwarded to Lt. Mark Griffiths.  I previously relayed that your request had been forwarded for review and compiling responsive records, if any, to staff in the following departments:  Police, Human Resources, My Spokane, Parks, and Mayor’s Office.  In addition, your request was forwarded to City Council members and City Council staff.  Other than the records already provided and the pending email review, I am not personally aware as of this date of any additional responsive records to your request.  However, as I mentioned in my September 29 email to you (aside from the pending email review), I will follow up with you on or about October 30, 2015, to advise as to what if any additional documents have been located in response to your request.    

 

I am in the process of working with Angie Napolitano to obtain additional information as it relates to the text messages that have been provided to you.  If you are not really interested in obtaining the additional information as it relates to Ms. Napolitano’s text messages, please let me know at your earliest convenience.  Otherwise, I will plan to follow up with you with respect to the additional information by October 30.

 

 

Breen to Pfister 10/10/15

Ms. Pfister,

Thank you for pointing that out it should read (Hatch and Cotton).

Please utilize any and all search criterion which will provide all documents related to my request and not just the suggestions made here. As you know the results of an initial search will in most cases lead to expansion of the search criteria to locate responsive documents.

 

Pfister to Breen 10/16/15 (IT WILL TAKE TWO YEARS TO COMPLY)

1/1/2015 – 9/5/2015

(Cotton AND Fire Department) or (Monique AND Fire Department) or (Cotton AND Park Department) or (Monique AND Park Department) or (Frank AND Monique) or (Straub AND Cotton) (Monique AND Condon) or (Spokesman AND Cotton) or (Hatch and Straub) or (Hatch and Cotton) or (Graham AND Cotton) or (Graham and Monique) or (Graham and Straub) 0r (Monique AND Transfer) or (Review and Cotton) or (Cotton AND Salary) or (Monique and Pay)

 

The search returned approximately 44,500 hits.  These emails will now need to be reviewed for responsive to your request and for any exempt information.  Due to the size of the email review, we anticipate it will require approximately two years to conclude the review and your request.  Please provide a confirmation that you would like us to proceed with a review of the 44,500 hits. In the alternative, if you would like to make any further adjustments in the parameters utilized for the email search, please advise.  We would appreciate you getting back to us by October 23 as to your preference in this regard.

 

Breen to Pfister 10/17/15

 

Ms. Pfister,

Thank you for your response. I will get back to you as soon as possible. Please provide the following information regarding the ” City’s Enterprise Vault (email storage) system” so I can pass it along and speed up my response:

1) The name and address of the vendor for the “Enterprise Vault system”

2) The exact search engine utilized by the City for document search and retrieval (i.e. AltaVista etc.).

3) The indexing system utilized by the City of Spokane for the “Enterprise Vault System.

4) A specific statement as to why the City of Spokane is unable to conduct a creditable, responsive, and cost-effective document search in response to Public Records Requests utilizing the systems currently in place.

Please understand that I am aware of a recent request made by another citizen (Ryan Holyk death) in which the City of Spokane’s initial response was that it would take approximately 2 years to fulfill the request yet the documents were provided within a few weeks of the City’s initial estimate of a 2-year time frame.

 

I REPORT YOU DECIDE! 🙂 🙂

4 thoughts on “NOTHING EARTH SCHATTERING

  1. RE: Hatch
    Duh! Sorry about that momentary lapse in recollection. Hope it doesn’t hurt her feelings when she reads that? lol

    Yeah, extrapolating on how long PRRs take or can take: I realize that doing searches and generating docs takes time and effort and that some delay is to be expected. But in this case, two years, to produce the few items you have requested? I suspect foot dragging and obfuscation. Especially in the age of easy key word searches and computer printed docs; not as if they are working from dusty hand scribed archival ledgers and using a mimeograph machine powered by a Hamster on a tread wheel. Jeez!

    I recall a citizen winning a lawsuit against District 81 because the powers that be thought it was cute to delay and deny the requests for information. And the award was substantial.

    Thanks again, Buff!
    ; )

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Regarding: Nothing Earth Shattering

    Up to two years to obtain some of the information requested?
    Good one! By then, the mayor’s term will be 1/2 over and there will be so many new scandals that most will have forgotten the Cottoncandy Massacre. Or at least that is what city admin is hoping, I’m sure.

    When reading the names I was confused by one. Who is Hatch???

    Enjoyed your pointed questions regarding the city’s vault/e-mail storage!

    Go get ’em, Buff!

    I read, I decide. YOU ROCK!
    ; )

    Liked by 1 person

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