Wake up, Port Authority Citizens Brigade: This Isn’t Transparency

In the last 6 months I have written at least 5 posts read by thousands of people specifically about how I want to attend Port Authority Board meetings and encouraging others to do the same.

boardmeetings

We have even photo-shopped a picture to show people where to go. But the Port says they didn’t know we wanted to be informed of their meetings.

On February 6, 2015 I wrote, Mark Your Calendars for the Port Authority Citizen Brigade.

On March 10, 2015 I wrote You Can Sleep In Tomorrow, Port Authority Citizens Brigade about a conversation I had with a member of the Port Authority staff about the last minute cancellation of their regularly scheduled meeting.

On April 8, 2015 I posted The Power to Bear Witness about how important it is for citizens to get involved and attend these meetings with me.  This post also documents yet another conversation about my desire to attend meetings with a high-level staff member at the Port.

On May 15, 2015 I posted Port Authority Citizens Brigade, You’ve Got 3 Hours to RSVP about the ridiculously short notice for the special strategic planning meeting in Evendale and the absurd requirements for photo id and reservations.

On June 8, 2015 I wrote It’s that Time of the Month, Port Authority Citizens Brigade and a Bit about Failure.

I also signed-up for the Port Authority email list and had been receiving meeting notices from the assistant to the Executive Director about meetings.  So I thought – especially after multiple one-on-one conversations with Port employees and board members – that they knew.

But, surprise, surprise.  When I questioned why I hadn’t been informed about two special meetings quietly scheduled in July and August – why none of the other citizens who had attended meetings and tried to sign-up for notification had been included in the email notices either, a list that targeted other members of the press, elected officials and random interested parties – now their legal counsel informs me:

You are correct that Chapter 121.22(F) of the Ohio Revised Code does require that any person who has specifically requested notification should be included.  However, we have no record of you ever making such a request.  In light of your recent communications, we appreciate that your desire is to be included on all future meeting notifications.  For our records, please confirm by reply to this email that you wish to receive such notice of future meetings.

No record.  The Port Authority has NO RECORD of my desire to attend their meetings. No FRIGGIN’ RECORD.  They have changed their web site since cincyopolis started to write about them and one of the changes is the move of the sign-up box to request to be put on the email list from the home page to the contact page and it now reads “To receive our newsletter.” Now that list just gets their puff-piece public relations material. So they have no record of my request, implying that if I were to enter into a legal proceeding I would have to produce a written copy of a specific request to be notified.

This year the Port Authority has held more Special Meetings than they have held regularly scheduled meetings.  A public record request reveals that the board is holding regular bi-weekly teleconferences – which probably explains a lot about why their public discussions are so disappointingly lackluster.  Is all this legal?  That’s something that can only be decided by a judge. But whether or not the Port is successful in using legal technicalities to circumvent the intent of the Ohio Sunshine law, this absolutely, positively is not right and the public has to wonder what it is that their 9 person, politically-appointed board is so determined we not know.

We’ve got another chance to stand up for a fundamental principle of democracy on Wednesday, September 16 at 8 a.m. Please join me at the Taft Center at Fountain Square, 425 Walnut St., 2nd Floor Atrium.

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4 thoughts on “Wake up, Port Authority Citizens Brigade: This Isn’t Transparency

  1. Mary Lambert

    Have you ever seen the little green post cards that are inconsistently sent out to notify residents of a “zoning change request” in their area which will can result in extraordinary changes for them, their property, and their status as taxpayers? Or merely someone wanting the addition of a garage on their property. They mingle the simple with complex, incremental changes promoted by the city to support building/development. These cards arrive no more than a week before the hearing, and the meetings held on weekdays, downtown. God forbid you are a working person, or, just have a hard won doctor’s appt. that day, that moment. Even more insidiously, the incremental part: one parcel needing a change one week, then a parcel .25 mile away needing another, etc. No wonder that at least one neighborhood, Hyde Park, requested an IDC (Interim Development _____) which would halt this practice and force the city to work with the neighborhood councils to revise zoning overall, and consistently. This was denied. The realtors were losing their minds, and the city thwarted in it’s glacial, juggernaut movement toward rewarding developers with egregious profits, and new home buyers with tax abatements. And, to my way of thinking, lots of future foreclosures for banks (deja vu all over again) which would lend to buy overpriced housing in already costly neighborhoods, to young urban pros, who may or may not be able to support such a loan. We ain’t out of the recession woods yet, and won’t be for quite some time no matter who’s elected America’s next Father Figure.

    Reply
  2. Bill Collins

    The Port Authority has no excuse for this failure to notify us of their meetings.

    Like you, I signed their sign-in sheet at a meeting, but never was informed of future meetings. In contrast, its the procedure of the Hamilton County Transportation Improvement District to obtain the name of every visitor to their monthly meetings, and then afterwards notify them of EVERY meeting they hold. For goodness sake, even the *Clermont* County Transportation Improvement District notifies me of their meetings even though they obtained my name from Hamilton County and I have never attended one of the Clermont meetings.

    The Port Authority clearly, at this point, does not want the public to attend their meetings, even though we pay the taxes that bankroll their work. Personally I am a huge fan of Laura Brunner, Port Authority chief, so I suspect it’s the land developers and local-government officials buzzing around the Port Authority who value this secrecy and encourage the Port Authority to practice it.

    Reply
  3. Craig Hochscheid

    The Port Authority needs to be sued. I wonder if such a lawsuit would allow a lawyer to collect attorneys fees should he or she win?

    Reply
  4. Blue Ash Mom

    I’d be tempted to hand-delivered a request to be invited to all meetings, and then take a photo with my phone of the receptionist holding the (opened) letter up, to show that it was indeed accepted by a Port staff member (and then email photo to Port the next time they “forget” to invite you). Either that, or send them a letter return-receipt requested, to verify that it was delivered.

    It’s not like they don’t already consider you a giant pest.

    Reply

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