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May 29, 2014

Records requests bog down county offices

PRYOR, OK — Are open records requests slowing down county progress?

Some Mayes County officials are choking on the sheer volume of open records requests filed.

Former District Judge Gary Dean, now acting as a concerned citizen, filed a three-page request with Mayes County 911 director Debby Pennypacker.

The formal request was for only one month of information, but stipulated that it would be repeated every month.

The request began by asking how many full-time and part-time personnel Pennypacker has, and if any of them have National Emergency Communication Certification. The request breaks it down further, asking for a list of certifications for each employee as well as a number of hours of training each employee receives before working alone.

Page two of the request asks for the rate of pay for entry level positions and for wages of those with experience. It asks for over-time and comp time numbers.

Dean requested the total of 911 calls taken during the month, how many fire departments were dispatched, how many law enforcement agencies were dispatched and how many ambulances were dispatched.

Dean asked for an all-inclusive list of operational costs including personnel expenses paid including wages, payroll taxes, retirement, health insurance, over-time, education, comp time, utilities, telephone, supplies, car expenses and any other expenditures.

In addition, Dean asked for sales tax collections, contributions by fire department, contributions by law enforcement, and any accounts payable expenditures.

In the midst of the series of requests, Pennypacker’s job is staffing the newly independent 911 Center.

“This request is sought for a member of the press for publication and research,” said Dean, who has a political blog. Dean is not a member of the press.

Mayes County Commissioner Alva Martin, District 1, was issued a 15-item request dating back to 2004.

Tulsa attorney Tony Mareshie, on behalf of Mayes Emergency Services Trust Authority Director Rick Langkamp, requested all records, emails, written correspondence, written communications and telephone messages between Martin and the two other commissioners and six MESTA board members. The request asked for any information on several resignations from MESTA, in addition to any communications of any kind containing the names Gary Dean or Rick Langkamp.

“All records, emails, written correspondence, written communications, and telephone messages relating to any Mayes County Commissioner's intentions or purpose to have access to the MESTA 911 tape or digital recordings since Jan. 1, 2004,” said Mareshie’s request.

Mayes County Emergency Management received a lengthy request in recent weeks as well.

MCEM, which is a two-man operation, received a request of several pages that primarily requested information on the county 911 center and MESTA.

The information requested, according to MCEM Director Johnny Janzen, didn't even pertain to MCEM.

The records request for MCEM asked for any communications between Janzen and his deputy director Michael Dunham regarding MESTA.

These requests are just the most recent in a series of investigations launched by county agencies and concerned citizens.

MCEM's administration is actively working on the county safe room grant project, a paperwork-intensive process that is slowed by the records request.

“I do not represent MESTA, just Mr. Langkamp,” said Mareshie. “I was hired to explore all his legal rights including his civil rights.”

Mareshei said he filed a total of six records requests on behalf of Langkamp, for County Commissioner Yoder, Martin, MESTA, Janzen, Dunham and Brent Crittenden.

Mareshie said he is in the process of filing a tort claim and that it will become public record “in a matter of weeks, not months.

“I have been hired to protect Mr. Langkamp's interest which means making sure I have all the facts,” said Mareshie. “I know there's a lot of politics, or conflict, between entities but I only represent Mr. Langkamp. My responsibility is to make sure his character and legal interests are fully protected.”

The attorney continued in saying he is a civil litigator, meaning his job is to “achieve benefits and things through the civil process, filing civil actions for injunctions, declaratory judgments or monetary return because of defamation.”

While Mareshie could not confirm whether or not a lawsuit will be filed, he did say he's making every effort to be flexible with the entities of whom he's made requests.

“I'm very cautious in this process,” said Mareshie. “The last thing I want is to slow down the function of county entities.”


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