One PRR story: American Express (February 12, 2016)
We don’t need to show you no stinking American Express records
One of the most interesting experiences I’ve had with public records requests and the Town of Apple Valley is my attempt to get copies of the Town’s American Express transactions, given the efforts Finance went to not to disclose them. This was part of the August 11, 2015, review that became Marc Puckett’s photo-op propaganda. Following is an account of what happened when I tried to review these documents:
I asked where the American Express statements were. Darlene Drenk said they were not allowed to respond to questions. Of course, I did not let that stop me. I demanded and eventually received the American Express vendor file.
The American Express vendor file contained only the annual fee payment on August 2015 (if I remember correctly). When I questioned where the rest of the documents/invoices were, here are the list of excuses I was given:
- The town was no longer using the American Express card. I challenged that response.
- Then I was told the statements had been discarded. I again challenged their destruction in the same fiscal year.
- Then the claim was they must be attached to the individual vendors the charges were applicable to. I challenged them again by having them pull out a vendor that was charged to American Express, and they observed the statement was not there.
- I again stated emphatically I wanted copies of all the American Express monthly statements on all accounts (because it was clear from the paperwork in the American Express file they had at least two different accounts). I was then told I would have to put in a new records request in order to obtain those copies, even though I had already made that request and waited for a month.
It took from my initial request on July 13, 2015, until September 2, 2015, to obtain copies. When the copies were finally in my hand, Puckett rushed into the conference room, jerked the records and town receipt form out of my hands, left the room and removed 6 pages of the copies. The copies removed were emails from BB&K acknowledging payments received with a list of each project by number billed and the amount for each project number. And, they still try to claim they are no longer using the American Express card, but failed to provide a final closing statement with no balance. Nor did they provide any information on the second American Express account.
As a taxpayer I am extremely concerned why our finance people are acting like Pinocchio and trying to hide financial transactions from the public.
— Concerned Citizen