Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Five Rivers Open Records Request

The 'Five Rivers' project has been the subject of open records requests of late. Ann Frisch, citizen, made an initial request. During the process to set up convenient times to exercise the 'records' request and give the Planning Services Division of the Oshkosh Dept. of Community Development time to compile and have the records ready for inspection, Ann received a letter from the City of Oshkosh Attorney's office. It was signed by Lynn A. Lorenson, Assistant City Attorney.

The two page letter contained many things of note and with Ann Frisch's permission I am printing one paragraph verbatim.

Subject: The City has hired outside Attorneys and private Financial Consultants to help with the Five Rivers project. (This was news to me and it might be news to you.)

At any rate, read this paragraph, think about it, and feel free to comment on it...

The City of Oshkosh has retained outside counsel and financial consultants to work with the City in the process of redevelopment of the parcel contemplated for development by the Five Rivers Corporation. After reviewing the files, I am denying your request for correspondence as that request may relate to correspondence with the attorney representing the City of Oshkosh as the Correspondence is privileged under 905.03 of the Wisconsin Statutes. In addition I am denying your request for information for correspondence as that request may relate to correspondence with the attorneys representing the city and the Financial consultants representing the City because, after weighing the various competing interests, it is my conclusion that the public interests favoring disclosure of the requested items are outweighed by those public interests favoring non-disclosure.

(signed) Lynn A. Lorenson

Asst. City Attorney

I will put my own comments in the comment section of this blog but will leave you with this...

When we (four of us) met to look at the records we learned from the very pleasant clerk in the Planning Services Division that this was the first open records request ever made in the time she has worked there.


babblemur said...

The public interest favors non-disclosure? Huh?

"The less you know the better you sleep" (Russian Proverb)

Gary said...

Babblemur: The answer is circular. disclosure is good, so good that non-disclosure might even be better. Then you ask for disclosure of the non-disclosure, which leads to non-disclosure of the disclosure of the non-disclosure. Does that help you understand it better?

babblemur said...

So maybe, on the flip side, the private interest(s) favor disclosure? Is disclosure bad or good?

Maybe what we need is "closure", as in an end to this crazy 5 rivers monstrosity.

Gary said...

I've been waiting, hoping someone would comment on an obvious thing. No one did.

Why is the city hiring outside attorneys?

They already have a City Attorney and an Asst. City Attorney. Isn't that enough?

Am I missing the reason? Can someone answer that?

Also...How much are these outside attorneys getting paid vs. Warren Kraft and his Asst? Who authorized the hiring of these outside attorneys?

Anonymous said...

It would be beneficial to see the entire letter to get a feel of the situation. Is there something left out of this posting that would indicate why the request was rejected? Everyone has the opportunity to appeal an open records request that was rejected. Other people might also make the same request to give it more significance.

Gary said...

I just saw a draft of the appeal which will shortly be sent to the Attorney General's office in Madison.

I hand copied that one paragraph from the original which was sent to Ann Frisch, who has the entire letter. Now that you ask, I would certainly post the entire letter on my blog if I had it handy. It was just that one paragraph that piqued my interest, the rest of the letter was very ordinary. A person could walk in the City Attorney's office and ask to see a copy of what they sent Ann. It is, after all, a public record.

Other parts of the letter dealt with arranging to see what WAS open for view. Four of us spent 2hrs poring through records, weren't satisfied with what we saw (didn't see) and more specific things were asked for and we are going next week to look at more. If someone has a genuine interest, they should make that interest known as we would probably have room for one, possibly two others to help us.

Each one of us has concerns and here is one of mine...

Out of a couple of thousand pages, each time the principal investors were listed one of them was listed by name only---no other identifying information, no state of residence, street address, business address, no zip code, nil, nada, zilch! His name:

Jim Keller. I googled that name. The only Wisconsin resident with enough money to invest in Five Rivers, (and remember this is just a guess), might be Jim Keller of J.J.Keller and Associates who employ about a 1,000 people north of Oshkosh. Keep in mind this is just a guess.

Question: Why, for an open records request, would all identifying information on 'this' Jim Keller person be blacked out?


MSM reported recently that the $7-figure$ penthouse suite offered for sale by Five Rivers had been bought by an un-named wealthy person.

A Rank Editorial Guesstimate:

Could it be possible that a yet un-named Neenah Menasha area company might have invested in that penthouse suite at Five Rivers to entertain it's clients? Might that same un-named company north of Oshberg be a large investor in Five Rivers?

That's todays thoughts, and I wish no ill will towards anyone. A curious mind, along with what seems to be almost covert secrecy in the Five Rivers thing, makes me become more curious..., and not the other way around.

Anonymous New Yorker said...

This entire load of crap makes me glad I left Oshkosh.