Long Hollow

City stonewalls request for public records of Divine Word Communications

December 4, 2015

sunset
Inweekly has made five requests for the Divine Word Communications’ records regarding the demolition of the old radio tower and the construction of the new, larger tower in the Long Hollow Conservation District.

The City has failed to provide the public records.

The Pensacola City Council voted on Nov. 12 for staff to provide information regarding the new radio tower built by Divine Word Communications in the Long Hollow Conservation District.

The city’s lease agreement with Divine has a clause (Section 24 Public Records) that gives the city the power to request all of Divine’s records concerning the lease agreement.

From the lease agreement:

“The Parties acknowledge that this Agreement and any related financial records, audits, reports, plans, correspondence, and other documents may be subject to disclosure to members of the public pursuant to Chapter 119, Florida Statutes. In the event a Party fails to abide by Chapter 119, the other Party may, without prejudice to any other right or remedy and after giving the violating Part seven (7) days written notice, during which period that Party still fails to allow access to such documents, terminate this Agreement.”

Two weeks ago, Inweekly asked the City’s Sunshine Center to review Divine’s records as per Section 24 of the lease agreement:

“In accordance with its lease agreement, Inweekly requests, via the city of Pensacola, to review all contracts, invoices, canceled checks, inspection reports and other documentation of Divine Communications, an Alabama corporation doing business in Florida as Divine Word Radio, Inc. in regards to the demolition of the old radio tower and construction of the new one in the Long Hollow area.”

On Wednesday, we received the following email and notification that the city was closing out our request:

As of December 2, 2015, City has made available for inspection copies of public records responsive to Request on the City of Pensacola Sunshine Center.

The copies were screenshots of inspections (jordaninspects). None of Divine’s contracts, invoices, canceled checks and other documentation were included.

Therefore, I repeated my request to Maxwell Branham, the City’s Public Records Coordinator, and added this question:

Is the City telling us that Divine Communications has no contracts, invoices, canceled checks and other documentation in regards to the demolition of the old radio tower and construction of the new one in the Long Hollow area?

A few hours later, Mr. Branham sent me more information that looked to be very similar to information the City Administrator distributed to the council on Nov. 12. Still none of Divine’s contracts, invoices, canceled checks and other documentation were included.

For a third time, I sent my request to the City’s Public Records Coordinator:

Mr. Branham,
The information provided appears to be similar to what has already been handed out to the Pensacola City Council. I have requested Divine Communications’ contracts, invoices, canceled checks, inspection reports and other documentation in regards to the demolition of the old radio tower and construction of the new one in the Long Hollow area. The city’s lease with the Divine gives the city the right to have access to that information. The information is considered a public record because of the lease agreement.

My request is similar to an earlier one that I made that was regarding Emagination Unlimited, where my request was funneled through the city. I reviewed Emagination Unlimited’s information in a conference room at the Pensacola International Airport.

I’m following your procedures, and the city has the authority to make Divine produce the requested public records.

As I asked earlier today, is the City telling me that Divine Communications has no other contracts, invoices, canceled checks and other documentation in regards to the demolition of the old radio tower and construction of the new one in the Long Hollow area? Has Divine Communications made available all its records that I have requested?

——–
Note: The reference to Emagination Unlimited concerns an August 2015 request for the records of the advertising firm that has the contract for the airport’s marketing. The City handled the process.

This is the email I received from Mr. Branham back in August on Emagination Unlimited:

8/24/2015

Publisher Richard Outzen

RE: PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST of 8/10/2015 Reference # W000843-081015 for the following information:
Inweekly requests to review all documents, papers, letters, invoices of Emagination Unlimited in conjunction with its marketing and advertising services for the Pensacola International Airport for the period of March 1, 2013 through August 7, 2015.According to the vendor’s contract, those records are to made available for inspection within seven days. Please let me know when and where we can go to inspect and review the records. Thank you.

Dear Richard Outzen,

Your records request has been completed and closed and a portion of the records you requested may be retrieved electronically from the City of Pensacola Sunshine Center. The remainder of the records you requested are available for you to inspect at the City of Pensacola International Airport.

Please contact Rebecca McLellan, Marketing Manager of the Pensacola International Airport at (850) 436-5019 or email at rmclellan@cityofpensacola.com to arrange a convenient time to inspect these records between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday.

Thank you for using the Sunshine Center.

Sincerely,

Maxwell Branham
Public Records Coordinator
City of Pensacola”

I had originally made the public request of Emagination Unlimited, but the city intervened and said I had to go through its Sunshine Center.
—–

Having followed the city’s procedures, I tried to figure out why it was so difficult to get Divine’s public records.

Mr. Branham replied to my third request for the records, but without answering my question:

A review of the records and files of the City of Pensacola reveals no additional public records responsive to your November 24, 2015 and December 3, 2015 requests for public records.

For a fourth time, I tried to get Divine’s public records:

Mr. Branham,

I have not asked for the city records. Please read my request. I’m asking for Divine Communications’ records.

Under its lease agreement with Divine, the city has the right to request the information I have requested. The information is a public record as per the agreement.

As I stated before, this is the same process I was told to follow on another city contract.

Is the city refusing to request the public records from the leasee?

I did not receive a reply. Therefore, I sent this morning a fifth request, including copies of the lease agreement and Mr. Branham’s email on how the city handled the Emagination Unlimited request. I included these questions:

Mr. Branham, have you requested the public records from Divine? If so, when? If not, why is my request being handled differently than my earlier request regarding Emagination Unlimited?

We are still waiting.

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