This article is one of a series of editorial articles that express personal
opinions and views. They are written with no pretensions to be error free. I
will gladly correct substantial errors of fact. My opinions can change,
depending upon my awareness and understanding of changes in factual
information. It is my intent to remain focused on specific public issues,
regarding the personalities involved. For all I know, all the characters are
saints, concerning their private lives and other public business...
Changes may be requested by e-mailing the details to email@example.com
Sometime during the Summer of 2007, while I was walking in the vicinity of the Manistique municipal water tower, I noticed that the sole antenna on the tower, a small uhf Yagi antenna pointing to the water treatment plant, had been replaced with an omni-directional vertical antenna. The change in technology was expected, as I had deduced, from conversations with the prior supervisor of the municipal water treatment plant, Randy Sanville, that the telemetry system installed on the new tower never worked as advertised. What puzzled me was my total ignorance of any public discussion regarding the need, acquisition, and installation of a new system that I deduced was associated with the new technology antenna on the tower.
Sometime later, that Summer of 2007, in an attempt to acquire some information about a likely use for a new omnidirectional antenna, I inquired at a local business, about the wireless internet service range of the wireless network operated in the Manistique area, by a business known as UP Logon. I inquired, of a male employee of the store business, about the range of the wireless internet coverage. He told me that it was very good because not only was there an antenna for the wireless system above the store location, but there was one on the municipal water tower.
I then told him that I had heard of no consideration of public discussion, a publicized agreement, or contract, between the City of Manistique, and UP Logon, for locating a business antenna on the water tower. He assure me that it existed. I then left, wondering why an open process of City of Manistique public business seemed shrouded in mystery.
I intended to broach the subject of the new antenna at a city council meeting, late last Summer, but for various reasons, including "Ol' Geezeritis", the subject slipped my mind, until a Manistique City Council meeting in early Winter, 2007. At that meeting I asked if their was any truth to the rumor that a local business had an antenna on the water tower. City Manager, Sheila Aldrich, assured me that no business had an antenna on the tower. Rather than question who was grossly misinformed, or a liar, I chose to inquire further.
Late in 2007, I visited the business store location of my earlier inquiries, and this time spoke to a woman who represented herself as an "owner" of the store. I described to her my earlier conversation with the male employee, and she told me, that as far as she knew, UP Logon did not have an antenna on the water tower. I explained her my puzzlement over the new antenna and the employee's story. She then suggested I speak to City Manager, Sheila Aldrich, as she had reason to believe that some form of communication had taken place between UP Logon personnel and the city manager, regarding the use of the water tower to locate a wireless network antenna.
Having more reason to inquire about the obvious use of the water tower for a combined telemetry and community wireless network antenna, I remembered to bring up the question about the reason and purpose for the new antenna, at the Manistique City Council meeting of 02/25/08. I was told, in so many words, that beyond being part of a "wireless ethernet system", the antenna and associated technology was none of my business, because of terrorism concerns!
To say I was livid, would be an understatement. I managed to bite my tongue, after saying I did not wish to hear any more.
On 02/12/08, I hand delivered the following F.O.I.A. request to Manistique City Hall:
Dear Whomever, This request for information is filed under the terms of the Michigan Freedom of Information Act 442 of 1976. This F.O.I.A. request is a consequence of the evasive response to my verbal request at the Manistique City Council meeting of 02/12/08. Unspecified terrorism legislation was cited to deny me the information I sought, at that public meeting. I asked for nothing more than a prudent and knowledgeable person would request when considering the value or purpose of equipment for local public use, purchased with local taxpayer monies, to which I contribute, to maintain and upgrade local public infrastructure. If there is a legitimate reason to deny me the information I seek, please provide a reference to the specific legislation behind which city administration may purchase water distribution infrastructure related equipment, and services, the technical details of which are a secret to those that pay the bills. If there is no legislation that denies me the information that I seek, then I request to review the system troubleshooting and maintenance documentation of the "old" telemetry system, on the "new" water tower, and the contract documents, billing documents, technical specifications, manufacturer's operational and maintenance technical data, engineering specifications, and any and all associated documents concerning the current Manistique municipal water tower telemetry system, including all the same or similar documentation for all the water tower telemetry associated equipment located on and off the water tower site. Public money was spent for a new telemetry system, in less than a public manner, and I want to know what my money purchased, and why.
Without being an expert in terrorism related law, or having telescopic x-ray vision to see, or prior knowledge of the title and form of the documents I wanted to read, I thought, dummy Ol' Geezer" that I am, that my public comments and F.O.I.A. request was pretty clear.
In the context of what should be public city business, my failure to use "read", instead of "review", did not require a lawyer to question what I wanted, in the manner that he chose, in an obvious effort to discourage further inquiry, with the implied threat of endless evaded F.O.I.A. requests, legal hassles, and an unknown monetary cost. In my request for specific content was no hint of any request to read "Records or information of measures designed to protect the security or safety of persons or property" or "...relate to the ongoing security measures of a public body..."
I know, as any other in the community, with an ounce of brains, that the City of Manistique's entire infrastructure is vulnerable to terrorism, and the financial and intellectual resources to minimize that vulnerability are in short supply. In the scheme of things, denying public access to the specific documentation I requested, required to evaluate, purchase and maintain the telemetry system, is nothing but pure political evasion and deceit, for reasons that no one wishes to discuss in a public forum.
"I am in receipt of your Freedom of Information Request dated February 12, 2008. Please advise me as to what specific information you are requesting so that I can determine whether or not the information you are requesting is exempt from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. You should be advised that MCL 15.243(y) provides, in part, as follows: "Records or information of measures designed to protect the security or safety of persons or property, whether public or private, including, but not limited to, building, public works, and public water supply designs to the extent that these designs relate to the ongoing security measures of a public body, capabilities and plans for responding to a violation of the Michigan anti-terrorism act........."is exempt from disclosure. Additionally, if your Freedom of Information Request is granted, you will have to check with the City Clerk as to how much it is estimated it will cost to honor your request. After reviewing the section of the Freedom of Information that I have cited, I would also request that you review the Federal law governing public water systems. Please refer to Public Health Security Bio- Terrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002"
Note, again, that nothing in my F.O.I.A. request had anything to do with "...Records or information of measures designed to protect the security or safety of persons or property..." or "...relate to the ongoing security measures of a public body..."
My concerns and request were specific, and directly related to my justified concern that; A. An ignorant and self serving city manager and city council would give away a significant public technological resource, to a business operating in the community, and B. There is no reason why a community wireless ethernet system, or newer public digital communication technology, should not be installed at the water tower site. C. There is no reason to hide the technical specifications, contract costs, and need for a new water tower telemetry system, as with any other infrastructure expense.
For the City of Manistique administration to hide public business behind contrived terrorism concerns, at a public meeting, and in a subsequent evasive and deceptive Manistique City Attorney F.O.I.A. response, is nothing more than following the lead of the current national administration pedaling their corrupt policies based upon similar contrived fears and self-serving and false interpretation of existing legislation. I do not accept any of the fabricated evasive and vague response to my F.O.I.A. request regarding the information I requested, concerning the spending of public revenues on local infrastructure.
With my substantiated concerns laid out in writing, it is time to do other things.
At the Manistique City Council meeting, this evening, council decided to hold an "open house" to the public, of the water treatment plant facilities. When Councilman Evonich asked if there was any concern about violating terrorist related legislation, he was assured, by Manistique City Manager Aldrich, that opening the water treatment plant to public scrutiny was of no legal concern...
and yet, my simple inquiry about the telemetry link antenna on the water tower was voided by contrived and documented terrorism concerns!
Such are the self-serving intellectual giants and "leaders" of Manistique.
Regarding the priority of Manistique's false "terrorism concerns" about a water tower antenna; the City of Manistique had the "open house", for the public to view the drinking water and waste water treatment plant equipment. I wonder if anyone asked about applying for F.E.M.A. funds to drill wells to replace the contaminated river water source that is so insecure that it should give local officials nightmares thinking about what a terrorist, wacko juvenile, disgruntled city employee, or toxic waste disposer could, and might do...?
Beyond the ridiculous expense of treating contaminated river water, with little to no knowledge of the concentration of transient contaminants, and then adding carcinogenic treatment by-products, the current insecure water supply, and treatment plant infrastructure, is an invitation to set a new record for domestic horror. The real situation prompts me to s'pose that most of Manistique's recent noise about terrorism is more about control of public access to public business, and lining the pockets of a minority, than sincere concerns about the subject.