Strange Story About Clerk’s Office

road-sign-63983_1280Update:  Here’s an article from keysnews.com that contains a bit more information.  An attorney contracted by the clerk’s office, said Shillinger’s letter was based on misunderstandings and incomplete information.  Well, I’ve never known the county to have their facts straight so I don’t know why this situation would be any different.  I hope the press will eventually get to the bottom of this and provide clarity.

I saw this at flkeysnet.com.  Bob Shillinger, the county attorney who sometimes steps in to hinder public records requests, is accusing Amy Heavilin, Monroe County Clerk of Court, of deleting public records.  How strange.  I’m glad to see he’s warming up to the idea that the public has a right to know.  More likely, he’s putting on a show of being concerned about preserving public information in this particular case.

From the article.

Monroe County Attorney Bob Shillinger said in an interview Sunday that “under 200” emails were deleted from the clerk’s office server.

Hmmm…is this bad?  Neutral?  It depends on the content of the emails.  If it was something personal, like a lunch invitation, then it’s neutral.  If it had to do with the business of the Clerk’s office, then it could be bad.  Depends on what it is.  Here’s a link to records retention requirements.

Here’s what the document has to say about electronic records.

V. ELECTRONIC RECORDS

Records retention schedules apply to records regardless of their physical format. Therefore, records created or maintained in electronic format must be retained in accordance with the minimum retention requirements presented in these schedules, whether the electronic records are the record copy or duplicates. Printouts of standard correspondence in text or word processing files are acceptable in place of the electronic files. Printouts of e-mail files are acceptable in place of the electronic files, provided that the printed version contains the complete header information, including all date/time stamps, routing information, etc.

The article goes on to say…

Shillinger stated in a press release Monday that Heavilin also fired Lanigan & Associates, an accounting firm that helped the county prepare financial statements for the county. She wrote to John Keillor of Lanigan & Associates that her office would not renew the contract “for budget reasons as well as my loss in the primary election yesterday.”

Shillinger threatened to ask Gov. Rick Scott’s office to suspend Heavilin if the contract to Lanigan & Associates was not immediately renewed, county public information officer Cammy Clark said.

Again, we don’t know if this is “bad” or “neutral”.  I couldn’t find a copy of this contract online.  I don’t know whether Heavilin had the authority to terminate the contract or not.  I don’t know if this contract is a state requirement or not.  What does the governor’s office have to do with it?  Is this one of the contractors that Madok was bitching about on the campaign trail?  Once again, the press is blindly repeating what the county tells them in a press release without researching it or trying to make sense of it.  As a result, all we have is this bizarre, non-fact-checked story from one point of view.

Maybe I’ll ask Bob Shillinger for a copy of the contract.  We’ll see if he really is warming up to the idea of public records requests.

Shillinger said in the press release that Heavilin is cooperating with the county’s investigation, and that neither destroying the public records or not renewing Lanigan & Associates’ contract “were intentional violations.”

“The Clerk began addressing these concerns immediately, including taking steps to renew the contract with Lanigan & Associates and providing assurances from her IT consultant that all public records had been preserved,” Clark said in a statement.

Huh?  So why was this kerfuffle even necessary?  Rhetorical question.  I have an idea about what’s really going on, but I’ll let the story unfold a bit more.  More facts needed for sure.  Incomplete, murky stories like this become sort of a Rorscharch test.  If, like me, you have good reason to be suspicious of the county, you’re going to suspect another misinformation campaign.  If, like other folks, you dislike Amy Heavilin, then you’re going to assume the county’s press release is gospel truth.

By the way, Cammy Clark, Monroe County’s public misinformation officer, is also the staffer responsible for the inaccurate animal control numbers in the 2015 State of the County report.  Clark claims she solicited a guess from the brand new operator of the Middle Keys shelter.  Hmmm…that’s pretty irresponsible for someone in her position.  Isn’t she required to have her facts straight?  After all, the county already had the numbers in their possession.  The shelters are required to submit them monthly as a condition of their contract.

I wonder why there wasn’t any press release about Cammy Clark’s enormous misleading “mistake”.  Her numbers for the Middle Keys shelter were off by a factor of three or so.  And I wonder why it was never corrected.  Lying about animal control numbers doesn’t benefit Cammy Clark in any way.  I’m sure she just did as she was told.  But if she lies on command, then she’s not a trustworthy information source.

Bottom line, any communication coming from the county should definitely be treated with a healthy dose of skepticism.

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