City taking its time on request

Local developer Travin Pennington is seeking e-mails from city finance director

KINGMAN - Travin Pennington is not a believer.

After reading Kingman Mayor Les Byram's statement in Sunday's Miner, "I think we have had as open a government as you could have," Pennington said he was "outraged."

"I was frustrated and disappointed regarding the mayor's statement of returning to open and honest government in light of the fact that I've been forced to sue the city for (City Manager Paul) Beecher's e-mails, and in the meantime, an additional request for (Finance Director) Coral Loyd's e-mails submitted over a month ago has been ignored," Pennington said.

It's been 36 days since the local developer-turned government critic last submitted a public records request for Loyd's e-mails, and to date he has not received a single document.

On June 26, Pennington asked for e-mails dated between Feb. 1 and March 31. After submitting the request, Pennington said he spoke with Loyd at a Council meeting, where she told him "she's busy with year-end stuff, she knows it's important to me, she'll get it to me as soon as possible, blah, blah, blah, and that there was substantially less e-mails" than some of his previous requests, which reached 10,000 pages over four months for Beecher.

Having not received anything for more than three weeks after his request, Pennington hand-delivered a letter to city hall addressed to the mayor, the Council members and Loyd explaining the situation and asking for prompt release of the documents, as he had already indicated in the original request that they be released by July 3.

"This slow response time by your staff defies your new commitment to leadership and open and honest government," he wrote, referencing a statement the mayor made following Council's evaluation of the city manager about a new direction for the city. "I am merely asking what I, as a citizen of a democracy, have the right to request.

"I look to you, as the mayor, for leadership to ensure that your staff both respects and abides by the law."

It's been nearly two weeks since writing the letter, and Pennington still has not heard back on the status from either the mayor, Council or Loyd.

He expressed his frustration Tuesday, stating that from his perspective, city officials act like they can do no wrong and that they have the mindset that "all our sins are forgiven and darn the public for bringing up last week!" Pennington said.

"I keep thinking this is Groundhog Day. Every Monday they wake up and forget what they did ... they think on Monday everything's fixed and we should trust them. It's mind-boggling," he said.

Calls placed Tuesday by the Miner to City Clerk Debbie Francis and Coral Loyd were not returned. Loyd's voice mail message said she is out of town until Aug. 3.

City Manager Beecher said last week during a public meeting that more e-mails would be released, but he did not return an e-mail or phone call Tuesday asking that he expand on the statement. Pennington has been battling the city for several months now and has spent upwards of $16,000 in attorneys fees for a lawsuit filed against Beecher, Francis and the city itself for withholding more than 8,400 of Beecher's and Economic Development Director Jeff Weir's e-mails. Weir no longer is employed by the city following a Council vote to remove his position as of July 1.

After having approximately 60 percent of his public records requests for Beecher's and Weir's e-mails denied, Pennington filed the lawsuit arguing, in part, that by the city's own standards - its electronic communication policy - all electronic mail messages are considered public records and that "users have no expectation of privacy."