As a resident of Prescott, Arizona, you might think that by looking at the council packet on the City’s website, you have all the information that the council members get. But you’d be wrong.
City Manager Craig McConnell does a preliminary briefing that he provides to each of the council members every week. McConnell would have preferred to keep it secret, but when a reporter put in a Public Information request, he legally had to make it available to the public. However, he did so with very stringent requirements.
Although he writes it on Thursday, he doesn’t make it available until Monday at 2 PM. (Originally, he refused to make it available until Tuesday but relented slightly.) Additionally, McConnell won’t allow it to be emailed upon request, he requires that anyone wanting to view it, must come into City Hall and read it at a designated location. Paper copies are available, but there is a charge per page for that.
Here is the original email regarding this issue received by our offices. Please note, Catherine Sebold is no longer employed by the City, and Patti Crouse has been transferred to another department.
Electronic copies are not available. Later, McConnell claimed that there was no electronic copy, although it’s obvious that these communications are not written on an Underwood typewriter. So, there must be an electronic copy somewhere.
We do not believe that this action is in compliance with Public Information laws. We will explain our reasoning in a later article.
Lately, with personnel shifts due to budget cuts, there isn’t even a supervised desk for the Press to use, so it is handed out via a 4 inch crack in the doorway to be read in the hall at the City building. We are then expected to hand it back to the staff person.
We here at Specialized Publishing and Prescott eNews believe that people at City Hall work for the public, not themselves. We also believe that Public Information laws are imperative to keeping public employees accountable. Transparency in government is a good thing, not a bad thing and should not be deliberately obfuscated with artificial, unnecessary barriers.
And, so, we are providing a full copy of this week’s Council briefing for you to read. We hope that you find the information helpful. We shortened some pages to remove blank areas.