Posted: October 30, 2012 at 8:15 pm

In Flathead County, the Price of Transparency is $82.50 Per Email

A Flathead County official is claiming that citizens who want to see the public documents related to Dennis Rehberg’s boat crash must pay a photocopying fee of $82.50–even if no copies are made.

Flathead area blogger James Conner contacted the county requesting that a PDF of the Rehberg boat crash documents be made available electronically.   He was told that the hefty photocopying fee must be paid even if no photocopies were produced.  You can see the exchange for yourself at the Flathead Memo.

People of the Flathead, this is your county government in action.  If it costs them $82.50 to push the send button on an email, I’d hate to see what they charge for answering their own phones.

 

26 comments

  1. Jennifer Davies

    That’s ridiculous. Reasonable cost would mean the staff time it took to create and email the PDF. Maybe takes 3 minutes–meaning this charge is reasonable if this clerk makes $1,710 per hour.

    • Jennifer Davies

      My comment makes more sense if you read the Flathead Memo’s post. I posted it hear because that sight doesn’t have comments.

      • James Conner

        Yes, FM does have comments. Use the feedback button. But no auto-posted comments yet. FM is 100 percent hand-coded, which makes it both a rarity and an anachronism.

  2. Once tried

    Why is it that Flathead county gov always seems to have so many issues. Time for a change. We’ve let the GOP run this states premier tourist destination into the ground for 40 years. No more.

  3. Jordon

    I have worked with many courts in many counties. They will charge you for “copies” even with a PDF because that is how they balance the books and when it comes to technology state and county system are struggling to make sense of technology.

    I still pay through the nose for my kindle books. Print is dying and the world is adjusting. Denny is a tool but this on this issue there isn’t something shaddy going on you just get charged that same no matter what.

      • Craig Moore

        Jim, I think your speculation is unwarranted as to what the clerk and the judge’s motives may be. These were “sealed” documents. Don’t know why. Two organizations, CREW and the AP, filed suit to receive them. The judge ordered them to be redacted to protect witnesses and other non parties to the proceeding against Barkus. Since these were “sealed” documents, the clerk is exercising caution in their release and leaving it to the judge to decide as to who gets.

        • James Conner

          Craig, once the redacted documents are released to the AP, they become public documents. The seal has been broken by the court. The judge does not have the power to dictate which members of the public can read the documents or download the PDF if the AP or CREW put it online. So what’s the point to all the foot dragging by the clerk of court and the judge? Are they trying to slow the release? Or, are they just behaving this way to show everyone who has the power and who has to beg?

          The PDF will be online less than an hour after it’s released. I’ll do my best to help everyone get a copy.

    • James Conner

      Attorneys can pass these fees on to their clients. Big news organizations have budgets for these expenses. I don’t. I don’t give a damn whether charging for PDFs is business as usual. It’s wrong, and it suppresses access to public documents.

      It’s time to legislative mandate that all documents generated or received by government agencies be in electronic form only, and to put all of those documents into a database in which the entire text can be searched online, and downloaded at will. The technology exists. All that’s lacking is political will.

      • Craig Moore

        James, sorry for referring to you as Jim above. Every the MHP charges ($2) for an incident report, even to victims.

        • James Conner

          Many wrongs, even little ones, do not make a right. And two bucks is forty times less than eighty-two-point-five bucks. And I stand by my assertion that no fee should be charged for an electronic document.

          Incidentally, did you know that the MT Dept of Trans used to encumber PDFs of meeting agendas with security restrictions that prevented readers from copying text and pasting it into another document? No fee for that. Another way that bureaucrats “serve” the people they work for.

  4. Dave Skinner

    That’s nothing — maybe it’s 850 pages.
    I put in an FOI to DNRC and got hit with $715 in proposed copy damages. I worked around that, but I’m still going to make another request and it will probably be no less than 300. And worth it.

  5. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers

    Doper Reeburp gettin’ a little candy for Halloween! LIQUID candy! But ya gotta wonder just WHY his bodyguard is always by Dopey’s side. What’s up with that? Is it the Pubbie way to make sure that Dopey doesn’t drive drunk? Or is there REALLY someone out there that wants to harm Dopey? Why is Vogel always there? And who pays him?? Just plain weird! Schweitzer has Jag, Tester has his wife, and Dopey has ex-cop Vogel! Weird and creepy!

    http://mtstreetfighter.com/rehberg-cant-stay-away-from-alcohol/

  6. Dave Skinner

    Read the whole thing.
    Barkus was driving, tested positive, hit the rocks. So how this harms Rehberg I don’t know. Much ado about old ado.
    Put down the club, the horse is dead.

    • Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers

      Um, that’s sorta the whole POINT, Dave. We CAN’T read the whole thing! Since WHEN were Barkass and Dopey Reeburp above the law?

      Now Dave, you tell me. If that would have been YOU OR I driving that boat, would we have recieved the same treatment?

      BTW, the new docs indicate that among Dopey Reeburp’s OTHER qualities, he’s a lying sack of shit! It’s certified! In the docs!

      But then again, we really didn’t need the latest docs to tell us that. It’s lookin’ more and more like a cover up all the time.

      Ten feet to the left and this entire discussion would be moot, for the entire boatload would be dead! Dopey is the luckiest moron around. I mean, just HOW many places along that shoreline ARE there where you can hit doing 55 mph and walk away? (or be carried still breathing?!)

      The public does INDEED have a right to know just how big a shizerbag IS Dopey beFORE they vote for him! That’s all.

  7. lisa o'conner

    Look. The report says that victim Dustin Frost, who was a staffer of Rehberg’s quote: “still suffers from injuries sustained in the crash.”

    I think people have a right to know if Rehberg has ever been held accountable for his decision to have Frost on the boat? Rehberg is on the record saying that both Dustin Frost and Kristin Smith were “staffing” him that night, which he considered a “working evening.”)

  8. Dave Skinner

    The redacted pages don’t have anything I could call pertinent or scandalizing. Shows his prior conviction and plea, the FWP suspecting bad breath, waitress testimony based on receipts et cetera.
    Barkus made a huge mistake, not Rehberg. Barkus’s reputation is a wreck, unfortunately but deservedly so. The only question is if Greg was such a bad boater to have hit the rocks sober.
    I have Navy in my family tree and saw some amazingly stupid behavior on the water over the years done by stone-sober people.
    I know you lefties lust after Rehberg somehow being at fault here, but there’s nothing substantive or earth shattering that I expect to see in the paper, just more dead horse flogging.

  9. Dave Skinner

    One last thing. Barkus had the smashed pelvis, with the bent steering wheel. Unless Rehberg was driving with his left foot, you can’t stick him.

  10. Larry Kralj, Environmental Rangers

    Faith, Famil, Freedumb,……..BUTTPLUG!
    bwhahhahahahahahahaa!
    Dopey Reeburp, a godly man in the Teatard tradition! Sure, he’s a besotted boob, but by god he’s got the god gene! (as do all criminal types once they’ve been caught) And me too after watching this!

    http://occupyamerica.crooksandliars.com/diane-sweet/mike-huckabee-vote-republicanor-burn-h

    Yesiree Bob! It someone’s spouting faith, family, freedumb, grab your BUTTPLUG ’cause you just KNOW you’re gonna get hosed by a Big Kochk brother!