In the case of Lily Limon all I can do, at this point, is to speculate on why she has chosen to remain silent on an issue that is central to transparency at the city. Her silence leaves me in an impasse as to whether my belief the city manipulated the results of my open records requests is valid or not.
As you might remember from my various previous blogs I feel like the city has somehow obstructed my search for public information. Of course a feeling is not proof and without proof it is nothing more than an allegation.
The rumor is that the city “upgraded”, “refreshed” or “replaced” the computers sometime after Lily Limon had moved into Steve Ortega’s former office. There is an allegation that there were several images on those computers that after numerous open records requests have yet to materialize. For those pointing out to me that these are only rumors should remember that it was also a “rumor” that circulated that there was an image of Steve Ortega with his hand on Veronica Escobar. After I specifically requested that image it was finally provided to me.
However if you look closely at my open records requests I strongly feel that the four images recently provided to me should have been provided to me when I originally submitted my original open records request back in September. The question I am now left with is wondering whether the rest of the images existed as per the original rumor.
Now add to that question, were the computers in Lily Limon’s office changed before or after my original request?
I don’t know the answer to that however confirming if and when any changes to the computers were made would go a long way in establishing whether there other images out there. It is important to note that the open records laws cannot be used to ask questions. Some of you are probably aware that I can file an open records request asking the city’s technology department for copies of memos, requests for service or computer maintenance logs for Lily Limon’s office to attempt to ascertain whether and when the computers may have been changed.
The problem is that at this point I don’t believe the city is releasing public records to me accurately therefore any requests I make are now tempered with the notion that each any every documents might be incorrect or incomplete. It has become nothing more than an attempt for me to find the proverbial needle in the haystack.
Obviously the next best thing is to ask Lily Limon if she knows whether her computers were changed or not. Notice I use the word “whether” because I understand that it is very possible that she may not know. I can’t compel her to answer my questions however I can always ask.
On November 1, 2013 I submitted a set of questions through the city’s website that included one question asking if, to her knowledge, she knew whether the computers in her office had been changed. As of this morning I have not received a response from her.
So much for me “being a part of a certain faction”, as some of you like to allege.
However, seriously, let’s take a look at the possible reasons for me not getting a response from Lily Limon to my questions.
Did she get the message? Obviously I don’t know the answer to that however I can deduce that she, or someone in her office received the questions because I had sent in a request for the illusive picture using the same process the day before and that request was turned into an official public information request that, in part, resulted in me receiving the latest set of illusive images.
Is it possible that she is not aware of my questions? Yes, it is possible however I know that she is aware of my blog because she asked some pointed questions about the city’s open records request process at the city council meeting of October 22, 2013. Her questions at that meeting indicate to me that she was aware of my request for pictures on her computers. I have previously written a blog about the questions I had submitted to her so, in my opinion, she is probably aware of the questions.
What would be her reasons for not answering my questions? I don’t have an answer to that question however I can speculate.
Has she been too busy to answer to my questions? I don’t know. As a blogger, who does not live in the city, it is possible that my questions are unimportant to her. Or, maybe she just doesn’t like what I have to write.
Has someone advised her not to answer my questions?
To me that is the likely scenario.
Maybe a political advisor told her that to engage me publicly would be detrimental to her political career. She wouldn’t be the first politician to get that advice and definitely won’t be the last.
Maybe the city attorney has told her not to answer because of the legal ramifications her answers might entail. If her answers to me were to show that the city made changes to the computers after my original open records requests then that would further support my notion that the records I was seeking were “sanitized” prior to being delivered to me. If I could prove that they were, then there would be serious legal repercussions for the city and any employee involved in that process.
If that were the case, and, to me, it is apparent that she was not involved in any of the allegations I’m alleging then why would she still remain silent? Human nature is the likely answer to that.
The city attorney’s office function is to guard against liability for the city and its officials. It is proper that they would advise any city official from releasing information that could result in legal trouble for the city. As for Limon, it is generally a good idea to follow the advice an attorney gives you because people rely on their expertise to keep them out of trouble.
However as an elected official she is sometimes called upon to make hard decisions that are needed for the good of the constituency. The issue at hand is about the public’s right to know. In a community where even this week a former district attorney is accused of corruption and not to mention the numerous ongoing corruption scandals I would think that transparency in government would be foremost in any politician’s repertoire, especially if they are truly seeking to serve the community they purport to represent.
It is possible that my allegations are completely wrong as they are based on incomplete information. This is why it is important that I gather as much information as possible in order to test my thesis. Finding out if it is true that Limon’s computers were changed will provide me more information. If the computers were changed somehow the time frame of when that happened would also go a long way in determining the veracity of my allegations.
Unfortunately my inability to get an answer from Lily Limon leaves me thinking that government transparency was just another political ploy from yet another politician seeking to get elected.