Too much information?
Damn them. Just damn them for trying to figure out why the travel budget was exhausted in the middle of the year. What's going to come next - citizens actually asking for documentation? If left unchecked, this could possibly lead to officeholders being held to standards of accountability..
I'm sure the rest of the council (or at least Tom Johnson) hopes that never happens in this article from the Rapid City Journal:
Read it all here.
Rapid City Council president Tom Johnson argued with Aldermen Sam Kooiker and Michael Schumacher on Monday in response to claims made by Kooiker and Schumacher in a Rapid City Weekly News story last week that they were being denied information.Johnson said their statements implied that something sneaky was going on and that the council had a hidden agenda.
"I try to conduct myself in an honest way, and it's not a pleasant experience to have somebody try to impugn your integrity. And that's exactly what happened here," he said.
Kooiker and Schumacher raised questions in July about a supplemental appropriation for the council's travel budget.
The city budgeted $20,000 for members' travel this year but reached the limit of those funds by mid-year, mainly on travel to a smart-growth conference and a spring National League of Cities conference. With another national conference in December that several council members want to attend, a majority of the council voted to supplement the travel budget by $28,000 to pay for that trip and any other travel expenses for the remainder of the year.
Kooiker and Schumacher wanted more details about travel expenses, even asking for an audit at one point that was rejected by the other council members. In the news story, the two aldermen said they were denied information about travel expenses and claimed that something was going on behind the scenes by council leadership and the mayor to prevent access.
Kooiker said the information requested wasn't provided until after he and Schumacher complained about it. He said that on July 5, he and Schumacher asked for an audit of all travel expenditures, but the rest of the council voted against the request.
After several attempts to get information over the next couple of weeks, Kooiker said Johnson sent an e-mail to city staff saying requests for travel information had become excessive and anything further would require a directive from the council.
The council has a policy that states that any requests for information that take staff longer than an hour to gather require a council directive.
"Facts are stubborn things, and they are not on your side, Alderman Johnson. We did not get the information until after we asked for the information," Kooiker said.
Kooiker said that throughout the past four years, he sometimes doesn't have the votes to get things to happen his way, so he has found that if he asks repeatedly, he will often get the information.
"And yeah, it irritates some people. But you know what? I'm not here for me, I'm here for the people I represent, and I think the people I represent have a right to know how the money's being spent. I won't apologize for that," he said.