After several weeks and hurdles, Camden County Clerk Rowland Todd finally produced emails for Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken. The emails were received on Friday, July 25. This was 74 days after the original request for these records was submitted by Theresa Townsend, local business owner and resident of Camden County for more than twenty years. The emails were requested as a result of Theresa’s investigation into what she considers to be punitive and selective enforcement of Planning and Zoning, the Camden County Sheriff’s Department and Franken.
What was uncovered after reviewing the records and the redaction process is blatantly illegal. It harkens back to a similar scandal to emerge from the Governor’s mansion in 2007. Former Governor Matt Blunt engaged in the same practices that have been uncovered in the preliminary review of these records, provided by the Camden County Clerk’s office. On their surface, they point to behavior by the current Presiding Commissioner and County Clerk that is criminal and in direct violation of state statutes, adding yet another chapter in Camden County’s resume as the ‘Dirtiest County in America’.
The Sunshine request to the Camden County Clerk, Rowland Todd, has been a source of contention for weeks. The request, made by local business owner and resident Theresa Townsend on June 17th, was for all emails sent and received by current Presiding Commissioner Kris Franken for the past year. Below is a copy of that email request.
to me, rowland_todd
Since you seem to be laboring under bad legal advice concerning public records, I am amending my last request …. I would like to review ONLY Mr. Frankens e-mails for the past year. Please let me know when this can be done.
That request went unanswered by Camden County Clerk Rowland Todd, in violation of state statute, Chapter 610. On June 20, Ms. Townsend sent a follow up email. In that email she included the Missouri Revised Statute, Chapter 610.023. She also indicated that the ongoing refusal to respond to the request in the legally allotted time frame would result in yet another in a series of formal complaints made to the Missouri Attorney General’s office.
to me, rowland_todd, casey.lawrence
Mr. Todd, On Tuesday, June 17, 2014 I requested to view ONLY Mr. Frankens e-mail rather than those of all three commissioners. I asked when this would be possible. You have not responded to me.
Since the State Attorney General will only refer you to the statute you are violating rather than STOP these continued, blatant, deliberate violations, I will save her the time and valuable taxpayer money by doing that now.
May I present to you, obviously for the FIRST TIME, the portion of Chapter 610 of the rsMO:
Missouri Revised Statutes
Governmental Bodies and Records
August 28, 2013
Records of governmental bodies to be in care of custodian, duties–records may be copied but not removed, exception, procedure–denial of access, procedure.
610.023. 1. Each public governmental body is to appoint a custodian who is to be responsible for the maintenance of that body’s records. The identity and location of a public governmental body’s custodian is to be made available upon request.
2. Each public governmental body shall make available for inspection and copying by the public of that body’s public records. No person shall remove original public records from the office of a public governmental body or its custodian without written permission of the designated custodian. No public governmental body shall, after August 28, 1998, grant to any person or entity, whether by contract, license or otherwise, the exclusive right to access and disseminate any public record unless the granting of such right is necessary to facilitate coordination with, or uniformity among, industry regulators having similar authority.
3. Each request for access to a public record shall be acted upon as soon as possible, but in no event later than the end of the third business day following the date the request is received by the custodian of records of a public governmental body. If records are requested in a certain format, the public body shall provide the records in the requested format, if such format is available. If access to the public record is not granted immediately, the custodian shall give a detailed explanation of the cause for further delay and the place and earliest time and date that the record will be available for inspection. This period for document production may exceed three days for reasonable cause.
4. If a request for access is denied, the custodian shall provide, upon request, a written statement of the grounds for such denial. Such statement shall cite the specific provision of law under which access is denied and shall be furnished to the requester no later than the end of the third business day following the date that the request for the statement is received.
(L. 1987 S.B. 2, A.L. 1998 H.B. 1095, A.L. 2004 S.B. 1020, et al.)
Please be advised there will be ANOTHER formal complaint filed regarding this matter.
June 23rd, an email exchange between Ms. Townsend and Rowland Todd addressed her request for these emails. Ms. Townsend sent Todd the following email:
Mr. Todd, on 6/17/14 I requested to view Mr. Frankens e-mails for the period of June 1, 2013 through the present. You have failed to acknowledge this request as well as the follow-up request sent 6/20/14. I will be in your office tomorrow 6/24/14 at 11:30 a.m. to view these records. Please see that they are available.
Theresa L. Townsend
Todd responded and the following exchange ensued.
Subject: RE: Public Records Request
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2014 16:19:15 +0000
Mrs. Townsend, This request is a revision of your original request for all three Commissioner’s e-mails. The estimate for the revised request is $250, but this is an estimate and you will be responsible for the actual charges for your request. The $250 will be required to be paid in advance. The IT Department will pull records until your initial payment of $250 has been exhausted for labor charges. At this time you will be made aware that your initial deposit has been exhausted and you will be allowed to make a decision as to whether or not we continue processing your request, or you may choose to view the documents that have been prepared to that point. If you have us continue to process your request you will have to pay the full balance of the actual cost of the request before you will be allowed to view any records. Nothing has been made available to you because you were disputing the charges. We usually do not require advance payments but have never received a request that was going to involve the amount of time that your request will involve. As has been explained to you, this office receives all Sunshine requests, however the appropriate department then fulfills that request. This request requires pulling records from the county server and cannot simply be scrolled through and viewed on the server. There are records that we are not allowed to disclose and they must be filtered in advance. This process has been reviewed by Casey in the Attorney General’s Office.
THANK YOU ROWLAND TODD
From: Terri Townsend [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, June 23, 2014 3:22 PM
To: Rowland Todd; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Subject: RE: Public Records Request
Mr. Todd’ I would believe that when you are charging such an outrageous and, I believe, illegal fee that is in no way reflective of the cost actually involved that you would be able to tell me WHEN this WILL be available. You cannot say it is up to another department and just eave it open-ended … perhaps I should be corresponding with the IT Dept., who I am SURE did NOT come up with the hours that YOU did!! WHEN will June, 2013 e-mails be ready? When will the next months be ready?? Etc. You are not given carte blance to ignore requests for public information when you pass it off to another department. And may I ask WHY IT cannot just put words or phrases into a filter?? If this is Microsoft software as stated by Mr. Franken, this is ALL possible within MINUTES!!!
Subject: RE: Public Records Request
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2014 21:02:56 +0000
Mrs. Townsend, as I have tried to explain many times, I do not set the price or the length of time to fulfill a Sunshine request for another officeholder or department! The elected official over that department does that! The IT Department falls under the Commission Office as has been explained before. Our job is SIMPLY to accept the request! I cannot answer questions about pulling information off of the server any more than he (the IT employee) could answer questions about voter registration. As a matter of fact – the hours are what the IT Department estimated! We have forwarded this request to the appropriate department. Any further correspondence needs to be addressed to the Commission.
Mr. Todd, Even though I find the fees you quoted of $250 to be unreasonable AND illegal, I will be in tomorrow with this amount. Please have these documents prepared for my review
Subject: RE: Public Records Request
Date: Mon, 23 Jun 2014 17:15:31 +0000
Mrs. Townsend, As per e-mail sent today, the conditions will stand and at this time there will be nothing available at 11:30 tomorrow (6/24/14) to view. But as always you are welcome in the County Clerk’s Office.
On June 24th, Theresa Townsend spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting of the Camden County Commission. The audio recording of the commission meeting reflects her ongoing concerns, including the handling of Sunshine requests. Below is a transcript of her comments from that meeting.
“I received an email from Rowland Todd yesterday that disturbed me greatly. It said that the fee schedule was the result of a commission decision, that he received those fees from this commission, and I’m wondering when this was discussed? Because in reviewing the past three years of audio and typed minutes, there is no record of fees being discussed by this commission with regard to my records request.
So that tells me, either Rowland Todd lied….again….or that this commission held an illegal meeting in which decisions were made and forwarded to Rowland Todd, or that someone acted alone in giving Rowland Todd this information.
And so again, I’m going to ask, when is this commission going to take its job seriously, investigate the documented allegations I have made with regard to planning and zoning, with regard to Rowland Todd, with regard to Charles McElyea and with regard to your illegal meetings, meetings without notice and meetings without minutes.
Anyone care to respond to that?“
No response was forthcoming from the commission. Instead, they moved on to other business, including over $44,000 in unpaid impact fees at the Old Kinderhoook development. These impact fees, unpaid for months at that time, stood in direct contrast to Theresa Townsend having been charged twice for a permit for an addition to her business, Gidgets’ Gadgets, located on South Highway 5.
Charles McElyea, the attorney for Camden County, clearly had a conflict of interest that case, as he also represented Old Kinderhook. This was one of many facts brought to light by Second District Commissioner Cliff Luber as part of the June 24 meeting.
During this same meeting of the Camden County Commission, at approximately the 23:00 minute mark of the audio recording for June 24, Ms. Townsend’s Sunshine request was discussed at length. It was broached by Second District Commissioner Cliff Luber.
Commissioner Luber addressed the vague timeline offered by Rowland Todd for filling the Sunshine request in the email exchange with Theresa Townsend. Mr. Luber offered his own experience in requesting emails be pulled by the county IT department, referencing a request he himself made for emails from the account of former P&Z administrator Don Hathaway.
According to Luber, it took approximately 45 minutes to an hour for the county’s IT department to fill his request. This was at odds with statements made by Todd to Townsend via email.
Todd indicated that the request made by Townsend, would take eight hours for the IT department to compile. In fact, the eight hours referenced by Todd was for only one month of Franken’s emails. This email exchange, between Theresa Townsend and Todd, occurring on May 12th, May 29th and May 30th, speaks directly to the resistance of the County Clerk in filling ANY request for Franken’s emails.
to rowland_todd, me
Rowland, I would like to know how much I can expect to pay for copies of all emails out of Kris Frankens office for June, 2013. I would like to know, in advance, how many pages I would receive and how many hours it would take your IT Department to gather this information.
You may reply by email. Thank-you
Theresa L. Townsend
To this request, Rowland Todd had the following reply. This reply came a full 17 days after the request was made, in violation of Sunshine Law:
Subject: RE: Public Records Request
Date: Thu, 29 May 2014 20:09:18 +0000
$30.59 PER HOUR, $0.10 PER COPY WITH TWO COPIES PER PAGE . MRS. TOWNSEND ESTIMATED TIME EIGHT HOURS AND THOUSAND PAGES TIMES TWO THANK YOU ROWLAND TODD
Todd, acting as gatekeeper, clearly over-inflated the time necessary to perform the compiling of the email file. Additionally, he attempted to charge an illegal fee to Ms. Townsend. He indicates that there will be a doubling of fees for Ms. Townsend’s request. This is on par with Planning and Zoning charging Ms. Townsend double for a building permit she was told she didn’t need in the first place.
Theresa immediately challenged this attempt to impose an illegal fee.
to Rowland, me
I confess to being confused by ” x 2″ … what does this mean and why would you charge me twice? Also, I question why it would take someone in IT (ESPECIALLY someone worth $30.59 an hour!!) EIGHT hours to hit “PRINT” for e-mails from a specific time frame?? Can you perhaps explain this to me??
Subject: RE: Public Records Request
Date: Fri, 30 May 2014 17:50:13 +0000
The reason for charging twice one copy goes to you and one copy goes into the file for our record , it’s not just hitting a print button for the emails, they will have to be gone through, make sure there’s no legal confidential information in them
to Rowland, me
Rowland, You cannot expect ME to pay for YOUR copies, surely!!! Also, anything that should be redacted is your JOB and is already being paid for … THAT is NOT research :) Please adjust your billing to meet state statutes and give me the LEGAL amount I can be expected to pay for a month of Kris Frankens e-mails.
As was first reported on American Spring and Guerrilla Radio, the Missouri Attorney General’s office offered case law that substantiates Theresa’s position. This case law was provided to her by Casey Lawrence, the Attorney General’s Sunshine Law Coordinator. It has not been overturned on appeal and the judgment states that a citizen cannot be charged for redactions that are supposed to be occurring already as the normal course of duties of elected officials.
This was the first of many roadblocks and obstacles that were placed between the public and the emails of the current Presiding Commissioner, courtesy Rowland Todd.
As Cliff Luber pointed out in the audio from the June 24th meeting of the Camden County Commission, there had been no discussion or consultation on the fees as a commission body. If there were any such discussions, Commissioner Luber did not take part in them.
In fact, Commissioner Luber spoke with Keith in the county’s IT department that confirmed that it would only take the same 45 minutes to compile Franken’s emails for an entire year. This is clearly not what Rowland Todd was attempting to tell Theresa Townsend. He was pursuing punitive fees that had been arrived at arbitrarily.
Commissioner Luber also indicated, that as a result of his conversation with IT, he was assured that, even if an email had been deleted off of Franken’s computer, it would still be accessible on the county’s server. There was essentially no chance that any emails could be lost. This is not exclusive to Franken. It would presumably apply to every county employee with an email address, including Sheriff Dwight Franklin.
On June 28th, Theresa made a request for three emails, exchanged between her and Sheriff Franklin. This request was also sent to Todd and, predictably, it was also met with a questionable response.
I would like copies of all correspondence between my attorney, Gail Troutwine, myself and Planning & Zoning for the year 2007, with respect to the postings that were made upon my place of business. I would like copies of ALL notes, documents, e-mails, etc. pertaining to that year. It would have started June, 2007.
Also, I request copies of ALL e-mails to the Sheriffs’ Dept. (There ARE no replies) from myself and/or Gidgets’ Gadgets from 2007 to the present. There are THREE of them.
Please advise me of the cost and when I can expect to come pick them up.
Theresa L. Townsend
Todd’s response to this new request:
Subject: RE: Public Records Request
Date: Mon, 30 Jun 2014 17:48:00 +0000
MRS. TOWSEND, BOTH REQUEST HAS BEEN RECEIVE HEARD FROM I.T .DEPT. NOTHING FOUND ON SHERIFF’S DEPT. E MAILS PER YOUR REQUEST THANKYOU ROWLAND TODD
At this point, Theresa sent a copy of the exchange to Casey Lawrence of the Attorney General’s office:
to casey.lawrence, Rowland, me
Mr. Todd, as I am in possession of the original copies that were sent, I find this to be totally untrue … those e-mails ARE on your system and they are NOT removable without a trace and failure to produce them WILL result in me filing a suit :)
As mentioned before, this appears to contradict what the IT department relayed to Commissioner Luber with regards to county email accounts. Also, it begs the obvious question:
If Todd lied about the eight hours required for IT to pull this data, might he also be inventing the story that the IT department tried, but was unable to recover the Sheriff’s emails?
To this point, Commissioner Luber also addressed a potential conflict in the Clerk’s office with relation to handling Franken’s emails. He brought up the role of the redactor and the need for the process to be above board. Commissioner Luber addressed Todd, advising the Clerk that he was in possession of an email that caused “concerns”. This allusion to a potential bias or conflict on the part of an employee in the Clerk’s office led Todd to make the statement that he didn’t want his department to handle the redactions at all. Commissioner Luber indicated that he would share the email in question, indicating bias, with Todd.
Todd, in response, said that he agreed with the Commissioner. He outlined his department’s procedure regarding Sunshine requests, which was to forward all requests to the appropriate departments to be filled. In this case, the redaction process, it was agreed, would fall to the Commission itself.
Franken, at this point said that he ‘didn’t care who did it’, regarding the redactions.
Commissioner Luber volunteered to do the redactions. He offered to do them on Saturdays.
Franken then brought up the issue of the deposit he and Todd were requiring Ms. Townsend to make in order to begin the process of collection and redaction of these emails. Despite case law provided by the Attorney General’s Sunshine Law Coordinator, proving any redaction fees to be illegal, Franken boldly stated that the need for the deposit came directly from the lawyer, hired earlier in the month to defend these illegal actions. In Franken’s own words:
“ We aren’t going to allow political phishing for free.”
Franken went on to state that there were approximately 6,000 emails. Commissioner Luber indicated there were 6200 emails making up the dates covered in Ms. Townsend’s request. After considering Commissioner Luber’s offer, Franken then replied:
“I’m ok with that.”
The issue of the $250 deposit, cited by Todd, reinforced by Franken, came up again. Franken, when speaking about the deposit, seemed to have direct knowledge of the emails exchanged between Todd and Ms. Townsend. Earlier in the meeting, Commissioner Luber indicated that the matter of a deposit was not a topic of discussion with the commission as a body.
The meeting was adjourned at that point, with the agreement that Commissioner Luber would handle the redactions as part of the record.
On July 10th, a full 59 days after the Sunshine request for Franken’s emails had been made, Theresa Townsend again appeared before the Camden County Commission. She was the second item on the agenda for discussion.
She was the first taxpayer in recent memory to be taken out of a commission meeting by a CCSD officer.
The meeting of July 10 began with a point of contention regarding the approval of the previous week’s meeting minutes. Commissioner Luber refused to accept the meeting minutes as written by the Clerk’s office. His reasoning for that was the inclusion of a letter read in the July 7 meeting of the Camden County Commission. The letter was reproduced in its entirety, at the request of Kim Krostue, the letter’s author and Bill Pragman, the only two registered officers for Krostue’s PAC. Krostue did not read his own statement into the record. Instead, it was suggested that he was afraid to read his own blasphemy. Pragman read it for him. The letter, as has been proven to be the case with other ‘allegations’ made by the PAC, was patently false on many of its points. As a result of this litany of lies, Commissioner Luber refused to accept any minutes that contained the prepared statement. Luber called the remarks “disgraceful” and indicated that he would not approve the minutes until the statement was removed.
There was no public comment made during the July 10 meeting. After tabling a bid for property, the commission moved to Theresa Townsend.
Theresa Townsend began by asking, yet again, for a response to the sixteen questions she sent to the commission. She stated, and minutes from the Camden Commission confirm, that no actions have been taken to investigate the documentation she has provided to her allegations regarding how Planning and Zoning were used punitively against her business. That documentation can be found on Citizens for a Better Camden County’s Facebook page and by clicking here.
Ms. Townsend went on to mention the efforts of the PAC and Kim Krostue to impugn her character and question her credibility during the June 11 meeting of the Camden County Commission during public comment . Ms. Townsend was on the agenda for June 11, despite Franken’s attempt to have her omitted.
During this meeting, Ms. Townsend went on to discuss the $250 deposit she was quoted by Rowland Todd. The redaction fees she had been quoted seemed ludicrous, in light of the fact that Franken sent Krostue emails containing personnel matters and information. This is a fact substantiated by Krostue’s own admission, as confirmed on the June 24 recording.
She questioned the doubling of her permit fees, considering that Franken himself had unilaterally waived fees in other cases.
Ms. Townsend also addressed the formal complaints she has made to the Missouri Attorney General’s office. She has filed more than a dozen formal complaints with Casey Lawrence, the AG’s Sunshine Law Coordinator. The first seven of these formal complaints have been investigated and, in each case, the illegal behavior of the commission has been proven. Letters from Ms. Lawrence confirm this fact, despite claims of Franken to the contrary.
On June 25th, in the Camden County Reporter, Franken is quoted as saying the formal complaints were ‘dismissed’. This is a blatant falsehood and a continuation of Franken’s casual relationship with the truth. The Lake Sun, instead of investigating themselves, simply reprinted Franken’s assurances of “Nope! Nothing wrong here!”
This seems to also be contradicted by the hiring of an attorney, at a rate of $150/hour, to defend the county against the stream of formal complaints that have been made by Theresa, other citizens and Commissioner Cliff Luber himself.
Theresa continued, calling Franken’s claims of dismissal an “outright lie”.
She also spoke about the way in which Planning and Zoning was allowed to extort money from her, despite her repeated efforts and actions to be considered ‘compliant’. She questioned the perversion of law that appears to be the norm in Camden County government.
Ms. Townsend was composed throughout her remarks. She asked the commission for justification for the doubling of her permit fees, a request she has been making repeatedly since October 21 of 2013. Franken has refused to discuss any of Ms. Townsend’s documentation, including his own email admission that the Planning and Zoning department was responsible for the mistake that resulted in a doubling of her fees.
After Ms. Townsend asked the commission for discussion on her remarks, Franken asked if she was done speaking. She stated she was not finished and that she had been placed on the agenda for that very reason: discussion and resolution.
Commissioner Luber, when he was asked for comment on the doubling of her fees, answered Ms. Townsend.
He stated that fees being waived and lowered without a vote at the sole discretion of Franken and fees not being collected is an ongoing problem in Camden County and that Ms. Townsend’s fees “should be waived”.
He went on to make the point that “extreme preference” has been extended to certain people and organizations, and that Planning and Zoning had not been fairly administered throughout the county.
Theresa offered that Franken, through his email to her, indicated the problem was in how her property was designated through GIS mapping. That was untrue, as she cited that this was the second time Planning and Zoning had failed to correctly designate her property as a business. The very reason former P&Z administrator Don Hathaway claimed, falsely, that Gidgets’ Gadgets was ‘non-compliant’ was because it was zoned, incorrectly, as a residence.
She went on to describe the great lengths Planning and Zoning went to in order to extort money from her. She described a ‘requirement’, also invented by Hathaway, to change the driveway into her store. Finally, MODoT intervened, telling Hathaway that the drive was fine with them and they had no reason to request any changes.
Franken still sat in silence. Theresa went on to read a prepared statement that again cited extortion and additional collusion to impede her access to information. When Theresa went to the office of Circuit Clerk Jo McElwee to obtain evidence related to her case, she was provided a form with an invented statute that granted the Judge, in this case Aaron Koeppen, the ability to either approve or deny her request for records. This is not something that is at the Judge’s discretion. She also cited the efforts of Todd’s office in putting up a procession of “road blocks” with regards to Sunshine requests. She wrapped up her statement by wondering if her status as a Native American woman was the reason for such obvious and blatant discrimination.
After she read her statement, she then asked the commission: When are you going to do your jobs?
Once again, she asked Franken for discussion. He said, falsely, that she was not up for discussion and that he would only make comments after she agreed not to speak. Theresa reiterated that being placed on the agenda means that the county has business to discuss.
Franken began banging his gavel loudly, attempting to silence Ms. Townsend. He then issued the threat:
“One more time and you are gone.”
At that point, Lt. Helms of the CCSD, on the scene at Franken’s request, approached Theresa and told her she had to leave.
“What rules am I violating?” she asked.
“Doesn’t matter.” Was Helms’ response. “I’ve been ordered by the Presiding Commissioner”
When Ms. Townsend continued to press for the reason for her being made to leave the meeting, Helms very clearly threatens her.
“We can do this nice and easy or I can….escort you.”
It was at that point that Commissioner Luber, presumably to protect Ms. Townsend from an assault, encouraged her to leave.
“Am I breaking the law?” she asked.
“Yes.” Replied Helms.
“What law am I breaking?”
“Ma’am, you’re about to find out, ‘cause you are about to go to the hoosegow…”
It was at that point that Theresa claimed, correctly, that her civil rights were being violated. In fact, in using the CCSD as his own private Gestapo, not once, but twice, against Ms. Townsend, Franken violated the agreement he signed below.
While Theresa could still be heard in the background, outside the meeting, asking for some sort of reason for the involvement of the police, Franken decided to make three comments in response.
First, he said he wanted to record to reflect that he was not a member of a PAC and that it ‘didn’t belong to him’. Second, he stated that Theresa had started an illegal building addition on her property. Third, he stated that she was not the only person to have their fees doubled.
Franken then directed Becky Farris, of the Clerk’s office, that ‘I think those are the three main points that need to be shown on the record’. In the background, Theresa can still be heard asking what law was broken. The inability of Helms’ to provide her an answer is also evident.
Commissioner Luber then spoke about the Theresa Townsend situation.
He began by talking about a request he had made of the Clerk’s office. His request was for all of the meeting minutes from 2012. He requested these to review how business had been conducted before taking office. While he said the clerk staff was always good about providing him information when he requested it, he pointed toward a relationship between Todd’s office and Franken that was “disturbing”.
The email below, sent by Kris Franken to Joyce Miller, editor of the Lake Sun, was generated after the clerk’s office notified Franken of Commissioner Luber’s request for the minutes for 2012.
I am heading out to meetings this afternoon, but I will give you an overview. Essentially, Teresa wants all three Commissioner’s emails from June of 2013 to June of 2014. We cannot give her emails that have items that fall under 610.021, or more specifically to do with legal issues or personnel issues. All of these emails will have to be gone through by hand, and these items will have to be redacted. I know that just for me, that time period contains over 2500 individual emails, some with large attachments. To print all of these out just for me could easily be over 7500 pages. We have estimated (conservatively I might add) the time frame at 35 hours to prepare the documents at an average wage of $20 per hour, not counting the $0.10 per page cost. As per the Attorney General’s office, we are requiring a deposit to begin the work. Using our estimate, we are requiring $700.00 to begin the work, which will probably fall well short of the actual cost of the request. Teresa does not want to pay for the request or make the deposit. I think that it is only right that we get the deposit so we don’t waste an entire week’s worth of county employee’s time for a request that she may or may not pay for and pick up. Since this request, she has decided that she wants print outs of all of the minutes from 2012, which are available for free on the website, and Commissioner Luber is printing these off for her so she does not have to pay for them. If you need more information regarding this, my cell is 216-1145. I am willing to try this route again if we can maintain some mutual respect.
The claims made by Franken in this email are completely false. Theresa Townsend never asked for the 2012 minutes. She is well versed, as should be obvious by now, in how to find the minutes online.
Luber went on to say that he ‘should be able to request something without the clerk’s office notifying Franken’. The allegations Franken made against Commissioner Luber in the email to Miller were, according to the Second District Commissioner, “false allegations made against me again”.
He also cited an email exchange in 2013 between Franken and Spree Hilliard, also of the Lake Sun. The exchange was in regard to the addition of a public comment policy.
From: Hilliard, Spree [firstname.lastname@example.org ]
Sent: Monday, June 10, 2013 12:49 PM
To: Kris Franken
Subject: Lake Sun article
I have some questions about the public comment portion of the Camden County commission meetings. Why was this instated? What is the background of this? Is this opportunity open everyday to residents or only on meeting days when there is official business to vote on? Is there a time limit on public comment? Does the person speaking have to live within Camden County? What do you think the public comment portion will add to the meetings? Why add this now?
Anything else you would like to add?
I am working on a story. Please get back to me as soon as you can. I called and left a message with a secretary just a few minutes ago, but figured I’d try emailing you.
On Mon, Jun 10, 2013 at 2:40 PM, Kris Franken <email@example.com > wrote:
This was something that I was asked about by a group of citizens, and I did not have a good reason why we did not provide time for public comment other than it had never been done before, and it was not statutorily required. The Camden County Commission has always had an open door policy with regard to meeting with citizens at any time and about any issue. This formal period will only be on the days that we actually conduct business meetings, but as it has always been, citizens can come in any time to voice their concerns to the Commission. We are going to hold comment to 3 minutes unless there is additional questions from the Commission to the person making their comments. Anyone is welcome to make comments so long as it is done respectfully and within the reasonable confines of standard meeting procedures. People come in very regularly to visit with the Commission, and the only difference that I can see with the comments being made during the meeting is that the comments will be on the official record of the county, where the casual meetings with citizens that we currently have, while still just as important to us, are not a part of the official record. I know that this is something that has been abused in other parts of the state and in some instances it has been discontinued, but I think it is worthwhile to give it a try as long as comments and demeanor remain respectful.
This email was sent to Hillard before public comment had even been mentioned to Commissioners Luber and Thomas, according to Luber. He had no idea who the citizens were requesting the public comment implementation, although they were later identified as members and contributors to Krostue’s PAC.
He also addressed the fees relating to Theresa’s Sunshine request for Franken’s emails. He asked how the fee was determined, other than by an attorney who works for the County. The terms of the related fees and deposits for Theresa’s request had never been discussed by the commission as a body. There was no consultation or conversation. There was never a vote.
He also mentioned the ongoing stream of complaints to the AG’s office. Commissioner Luber said that the commission had never been provided any of the letters from Casey Lawrence regarding the seven findings of wrongdoing by the commission. Franken had not shared those with Commissioners Luber or Thomas.
Again, Commissioner Luber referenced the relationship between the Clerk’s office and Franken and stated that he had no faith that the clerk’s office could redact properly in an unbiased fashion.
He also questioned information that was provided to Bill Pragman of the PAC. According to the email below, Franken worked to compile information for Pragman at his request, but there was no fee associated with this extra work. This, Luber stated, indicated a discrepancy when compared to Theresa’s request.
From: Kris Franken
To: Bill & Karen Pragman
Sent: Friday, June 7, 2013 3:12 PM
Subject: RE: Statistics
I have you information…it was a little more work than I expected, but it was informative for myself as well. A couple of considerations when viewing this data, especially with regards to the business and sales tax numbers. I can only count the businesses that remit sales tax to Camden County. If a business does not remit sales tax, like a manufacturer, or a feed store for farm use, or many other uses, they are still businesses but we have no way to count them…and they do not generate sales tax directly from their operation, but we get the sales tax generated by the economic activity from the salaries and jobs they provide. Many of these types of businesses are located outside of the P&Z boundary. These are actual numbers from our reports that I have compiled and I would say that the margin of error is a maximum of 3%. Also, there are a lot of businesses out there that pay their sales tax at their point of purchase and only add labor, so they do not remit and show up on this report as a reporting business. Business and sales tax numbers are from March, 2013. On the real estate taxes, it is real estate only, no personal property, and it is for all taxing entities…state, county, fire, ambulance, etc. If you have any further questions, let me know. Here is the info:
Total number of parcels in Camden County = 65,536
Total amount of property tax paid by this group = $53,092,845.00
Total number of parcels in the P&Z District = 60,707
Total amount of property tax paid by this group = $47,817,873
Total number of full time residents in Camden County = 44,002
Total number of full time residents in P&Z District = 30,801
Total number of RETAIL businesses in Camden County reporting sales tax = 722
Total amount of sales tax collected by this group = $607,813.30
Total number of RETAIL businesses in P&Z District reporting sales tax = 711
Total amount of sales tax collected by this group = $606,445.30
There you go. Have a great weekend.
With regard to the doubling of Ms. Townsend’s permit fees, Commissioner Luber asked Franken about a BOA hearing fee, dated 2/11/13. The fees for this were waived unilaterally by Franken.
Even when confronted with this evidence, Franken claimed: “No it was not.”
Franken then attempted to feign shock and outrage, when presented with this proof, some of which was uncovered during the redaction process. It was at that point that Franken’s pathological affliction seems to have taken over. He attempted to rewrite history and claim that he never gave Commissioner Luber ‘permission’ to do redactions on his emails. This, of course, is contradicted by the official record of the June 24 meeting of the commission, as detailed above.
Franken claimed that, after the meeting, he changed his mind. He claimed also that he informed Commissioner Luber of this change of heart. Spree Hilliard, in attendance, backed up her buddy Kris, claiming that she heard Franken say that Cliff couldn’t review his emails. Unfortunately, three other witnesses, including Commissioner Luber, never heard any such statement.
Luber went on to say that because of Franken’s own actions, he was having difficulty in deciding what should or should not be redacted. He cited emails that Franken sent to Kim Krostue, a private citizen, regarding personnel issues.
“What am I supposed to redact when you’ve given a personnel email to a private citizen who supports you?” asked Luber.
Hilliard at that point asked for a copy of the full recording of the meeting and copies of the emails mentioned by Commissioner Luber between Franken and the Lake Sun.
“If the Lake Sun’s going to be mentioned, we should know about it.” Spree said, her naivety on full display.
Franken then, obviously shaken, declared the meeting adjourned.
On July 25th, 74 days after Theresa Townsend made a Sunshine request for one year of Franken’s emails, she received the following email from Clerk Rowland Todd.
Mrs. Townsend, your sunshine request for Commissioner Franken’s emails is finished. For your convenience we put them on the disc that you can take with you, there is a total of 6,074 emails. On June 24 you made a down payment of $250 I had one staff handle this at a rate of $11.77 per hour it took her 16 hours which comes out to $188.32 leaves a refund of $61.68. This can be picked up here in the office Thank you Rowland Todd 1 Court Circle N.W. Camdenton, Mo. 650203) 317-3890 (573) 317-3890 Fax: (573) 346-8445
This email has several important admissions in it. First, according to Todd, there were a total of 6,074 emails. Additionally, he admits that the redaction was performed by a female staff member in his office. This is in direct conflict with the official county record, in which it was decided that Commissioner Luber would handle redactions. In fact, Commissioner Luber had indicated that his redaction was nearly complete several days earlier, as evidenced by audio recording.
Instead, Becky Farris went to the IT department and requested the same emails. She said it was because they had received a call from the Casey Lawrence and the AG’s office. According to Todd’s office, they were told by the AG’s office that they were to do the redactions in question, not Commissioner Luber.
Commissioner Luber, seeking conformation of this directive, called the Missouri Attorney General’s office. They indicated they made no such call to Todd’s office.
On Friday afternoon, the disk containing the emails ‘redacted’ by Todd’s office was picked up and the remainder of the deposit was refunded, per the email from Todd to Ms. Townsend.
After receiving the disk provided by Todd’s office, several discrepancies immediately became apparent, seeming to provide validation of Commissioner Luber’s stated reservations about the redactions being done in the Clerk’s office.
First, according to Rowland Todd, there should have been 6,074 email records included on the disk. This was not the case. Only 5,137 records were provided. According to accounts given by Franken (6,000 records), Commissioner Luber (6,200 records) and Todd (6,047 records) there are, at minimum 937 missing emails. These emails appear to have been completely omitted from the disk provided for review.
What can only be characterized in Commissioner Luber’s word, ‘disturbing’, there appears to be a very deliberate pattern regarding the omission of these 937 emails. Also, as predicted by Commissioner Luber when he voiced his concerns regarding the Clerk’s office handling the redactions, emails that should not have been redacted clearly have been.
In taking a tally of outgoing emails authored by Franken, a noticeable problem exists. This year, in the month of May, Franken sent 85 emails. In June of this year (not a full month based on the Sunshine request), there were 101 outgoing emails. It is important to note that these two months are by far the most reasonable, with regard to volume, than the preceding months.
The disk provided by Todd’s office shows that in the months before May of this year, Franken’s outgoing emails have been severely redacted. A monthly tally breaks down as follows:
July 2013 5
August 2013 7
September 2013 8
October 2013 1
November 2013 5
December 2013 5
January 2014 1
February 2014 2
March 2014 2
April 2014 0
The inclusion of the handful of emails that WERE provided indicate that any outgoing emails should still be on the Camden County’s server and was not a technical or user error. Had outgoing emails been in a separate folder and were not uploaded to the disk, there would be zero records for the months above. Instead, what is presented appears to be a fraction of the emails Franken sent during those months. Nor were all of these emails regarding legal or personnel issues. In fact, an email sent by Franken to Theresa Townsend on December 5, 2013 is missing. There could be no reasonable justification for this email to have been redacted, as it is a response to Theresa’s ongoing issues with Planning and Zoning.
Subject: RE: P&Z ongoing issues
Date: Thu, 5 Dec 2013 17:47:18 +0000
I apologize, once again, for the incorrect record keeping in Planning and Zoning regarding your property. We have gone through a series of software updates on our GIS system and sometimes data does not transfer from system to system as we would like. We will do our best to make sure that the zoning map issue does not occur again.
I understand from your email that there are things that you do not like about the rules in Planning and Zoning and would like to encourage you to be a part of the process whenever we have public hearings to take input on proposed changes.
I am not aware of any “selective enforcement” in Planning and Zoning as you have alluded to, but some of that perception may be from variances that were requested and granted to certain applicants by the Planning and Zoning Commission or the Board of Adjustments. As far as incorporated municipal boundaries are concerned, Camden County Planning and Zoning laws do not apply within the city limits of any city or village located within the borders of Camden County.
Finally, you allude to an “illegal meeting”. We have had no illegal meetings. The commission never voted on any action regarding your property. The job of the Planning and Zoning Administrator is to uphold and enforce the laws of Camden County. The action of that enforcement does not, and should not, require authorization of the County Commission. Any “meeting” that you would be referring to would simply be a staff update where the Commission was being made aware of the cases currently being acted upon in Planning and Zoning. These updates help to keep us properly informed should we need to answer questions on case statuses that we may encounter either from the applicant or a concerned citizen.
I appreciate your concerns with Planning and Zoning and will work to improve the program.
Presiding Commissioner Camden County
This email does not appear in the records provided by the clerk’s office. It is one of the missing 937 emails. There can be no reasonable argument made to have redacted this email and it stands as undeniable proof of the collusion between Franken and Todd to thwart Sunshine Law.
This illegal action has exposed the county to unknown liabilities. It is in violation of a decision reached during a meeting of the Camden County Commission and clearly violates both Chapters 109 and 610 of Missouri State Statutes. The omission of these records are criminal, plain and simple, as illustrated in 2007, when former Governor Matt Blunt and his staff ignored state statutes in concealing their emails from the public. It represents a violation of the public trust and the oaths of office taken by both Franken and Todd.
Together, they decided that the decision of the commission could be discarded, in order to conceal Franken’s emails. This decision came without a discussion or vote by the commission body. The decision to have someone other than Commissioner Luber do the redactions is a violation of Sunshine Law itself.
Theresa Townsend, who first found this glaring and sloppy discrepancy, sent the following email to Rowland Todd, in order to clarify who made this decision.
RE: EMAILS REQUEST
Terri Townsend 7/25/14
To: Rowland Todd
Also, what do you mean you had one staff do it?? It was decided in a Commissioner meeting that Mr. Luber was going to do the redaction. Can you please tell me when this was changed, when you were notified of the change and WHO notified you of this change??? There has never been another Commissioner meeting where this was discussed or decided after June 24, 2014. Thank-you
Also, the following email was sent by Theresa Townsend to Casey Lawrence of the Attorney General’s office on Monday morning, July 28, 2014.
On Friday July 25, 2014 I was notified by Rowland Todd that my records request of June 17, 2014 had FINALLY been completed and rather than allowing me to VIEW the records as requested, they were placed on a disc for me to pick up. (Here is copy of request: Public Records Terri Townsend 6/17/14 To: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Since you seem to be laboring under bad legal advice concerning public records, I am amending my last request …. I would like to review ONLY Mr. Frankens e-mails for the past year. Please let me know when this can be done. ) On June 24, 2014 it was agreed that Commissioner Luber would redact these e-mails at no cost. On July 11, 2014 when I sent a follow up to Mr. Todd, he responded that Mr. Luber had the e-mails and was redacting them. (Here is link to audio of June 24, 2014 Commissioner meeting: http://www.camdenmo.org/min2012/June%2024,%202014.mp3 ) In Mr. Todds e-mail of July 25, 2014 he states ” I had one staff handle this at a rate of $11.77 per hour it took her 16 hours which comes out to $188.32″. Since there have been no commissioner meetings since July 10, 2014 I am wondering WHO told Mr. Todd to have a staff member redact these e-mails, HOW was Mr. Todd notified to do this and WHEN?? Also, according to RSmo 109.280 these records should have already been marked as confidential and separated from “regular” public records which means there should be NO charge for redaction. It should have already been done as I have maintained from the beginning of this request. (Here is 109.280: Agency heads may determine nature and form of records–confidential records to be so treated. 109.280. Nothing in sections 109.200 to 109.310 shall be construed to divest agency heads of the authority to determine the nature and form of the records required in the administration of their several departments, or to compel the removal of records deemed necessary by them in the performance of their statutory duties. Any records made confidential by law shall be so treated in the state or local records center and archives.) Also, on June 24, 2014 I was charged $250.00 AFTER it had been determined that Mr. Luber was redacting the e-mails … what was I being charged for??? THAT $250.00 was for the IT Dept. to redact at a rate of $30.59 an hour as you are well aware from previous correspondence. It took over a MONTH for me to be allowed to VIEW e-mails!!! RSmo 109.80 states: Public records open to inspection–refusal to permit inspection, penalty. 109.180. Except as otherwise provided by law, all state, county and municipal records kept pursuant to statute or ordinance shall at all reasonable times be open for a personal inspection by any citizen of Missouri, and those in charge of the records shall not refuse the privilege to any citizen. Any official who violates the provisions of this section shall be subject to removal or impeachment and in addition shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction shall be punished by a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars, or by confinement in the county jail not exceeding ninety days, or by both the fine and the confinement. (L. 1961 p. 548 § 1) CROSS REFERENCE: Tax returns and records of department of revenue, confidentiality, 32.057, 92.338, 94.540, 94.620 I hardly think that this request has met this requirement ….. Moving on. I would like your office to subpeona Mr. Lubers computer immediately as there are 837 missing e-mails. In Mr. Todds e-mail he states “For your convenience we put them on the disc that you can take with you, there is a total of 6,074 emails.” In the June 24, 2014 meeting they claim 6200….. HOWEVER, there are a total of 5,237 on the disc provided to me. All but EIGHT of Mr. Frankens out-going e-mails for the period of June 2013 through May 2014 are NOT on this disc, including the one he sent to me on December 5, 2013 which would NOT have met redaction criteria. I would have a hard time believing that ALL of Mr. Frankens outgoing e-mail for ELEVEN MONTHS would have been “closed” records. Since all other incoming e-mails are here, I would believe that the out going e-mails SHOULD be on the county server or have been deliberately removed/destroyed. I am asking that your office conduct a thorough investigation of these allegations and the record keeping system and the methods used by Camden County as these are public records that are now missing, destroyed or being illegally kept from me, even after I paid the illegal fee! I would mention that I shouldn’t pay for redaction under law, but, also because the person who did the redaction was inept, to say the least. There are SEVERAL e-mails with TWO separate attorneys that SHOULD have been redacted and were not. To conclude, I would like to point out the following as you seem to have missed it in your previous dealings with the Camden County Commissioners and my formal complaints: Liberal construction of law to be public policy. 610.011. 1. It is the public policy of this state that meetings, records, votes, actions, and deliberations of public governmental bodies be open to the public unless otherwise provided by law. Sections 610.010 to 610.200 shall be liberally construed and their exceptions strictly construed to promote this public policy. Your office is charged with seeing that these laws are followed!!! You have FAILED miserably in this task over the course of the past three months. It has led to this brazen crime being committed against me. For the last time, I ask that you do the job you are being paid to do and bring these lawbreakers to justice and see that they are penalized for the willful arrogance with which they continue to break these laws. Any further inability on your part to do the job your are charged to do will result in a freedom of information request being filed for all correspondence between your office & Camden County regarding my formal complaints and you will be named as a co-conspirator in these these crimes in the suit I will file.
The entire file of Franken’s emails will be made available to the public on Monday, July 28, 2014. For more on this story as it continues to develop, tune in today at noon on Guerrilla Radio.
Editor’s Note: Because some email programs track and count emails in different ways, there is a working assumption that the total number of records could vary slightly depending on the program used to view them. This does not however, explain the vast discrepancy between emails included after Franken was made aware of the Sunshine request and those months preceding. The difference is certainly worthy of a thorough investigation by the office of the Attorney General.