Monday, March 10, 2014

PSTA and Public Records Stonewalling or Mismanagement?

There have been some claims made that PSTA has been darkening the tinting on transit bus windows so the public cannot easily see how many people are on a bus. Some people think this is a being done so people cannot confirm the claim many buses run empty or nearly empty.

I set out to try and determine how much money PSTA had spent in the last year on window tinting or window replacements for the transit buses.

The objective of the Public Record Request was to verify or refute claims made that PSTA is darkening the windows on PSTA buses. There could be many reasons for tinting bus windows.

On February 10, 2014, I submitted a Public Records Request to the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority for information regarding tinting or darkening the windows on PSTA transit buses.

A previous, more general public records request for window tinting returned information for regular cars, vans and trucks but omitted any information regarding transit buses.

I submitted a follow up Public records Request for:

·The purchases of tinted windows, tinted window replacements or tinted window coverings for the passenger windows of buses used in regular PSTA bus line service.

·Tinted windows or replacement tinted windows for other PSTA vehicles are not part of this request.

Below is the e-mail thread from PSTA.

From: dr.webb@verizon.net
Sent:
 Friday, February 14, 2014 To: Clarissa Keresztes
To: Ms Keresztes:
Please see the Attached Public Records Request in PDF form.
Thank You 
Dr. E. Eugene Webb

From: dr.webb@verizon.net
Sent:
 Friday, February 14, 2014
To: Clarissa Keresztes
Mrs.Keresztes
I am looking for the purchases of tinted windows, tinted window replacements or tinted window coverings for the passenger windows of buses used in regular PSTA bus line service.

Tinted windows or replacement tinted windows for other PSTA vehicles are not part of this request.

If there is a cost associated with this request, please provide an estimate with a breakdown by job classification and labor rate for each person working on the request.
Thanks
Dr. E. Eugene Webb

From: dr.webb@verizon.net
Sent:
 Friday, February 21, 2014 7:23 AM
To: Clarissa Keresztes
Subject: Public Records request 
Clarissa: 
Any progress on my public records request? 
Gene
 Dr. E. Eugene Webb

From: Clarissa Keresztes
To Dr. Webb Rachael Garofalo Sangita Land
 Feb 21
Dr. Webb: 
Attached is an estimated invoice for labor charges for your public records request:

·The purchases of tinted windows, tinted window replacements or tinted window coverings for the passenger windows of buses used in regular PSTA bus line service.

·Tinted windows or replacement tinted windows for other PSTA vehicles are not part of this request.

Upon receipt of your payment, we will process your request.
Thank you. 
Clarissa Keresztes
Administrative Assistant
Executive Department
Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority

PINELLAS SUNCOAST TRANSIT AUTHORITY

3201 Scherer Drive, St. Petersburg, FL 33716     www.PSTA.net     727.540.1800    fax 727.540.1913


INVOICE

PSTA PUBLIC RECORDS REQUEST

FROM: CLARISSA KERESZTES

PHONE: 727-540-1898

FAX: 727-540-1913









NAME OF PERSON REQUESTING RECORDS:  Dr. Webb 


CONTACT INFORMATION:  dr.webb@verizon.net


DATE REQUEST WAS SUBMITTED: 2-10-14


DEPARTMENT/DIVISION PRODUCING RECORDS:  Maintenance and Purchasing Depts.


SPECIFIC RECORDS VIEWED/COPIED: Purchases of tinted windows, tinted window

replacements or tinted window coverings for the passenger windows of buses used in

regular PSTA bus line service.


NUMBER OF ITEMS COPIED:
double-sided =
$0.00

single-sided =
$0.00

CD ($25 each) =
$0.00


**LABOR
3 hrs. @ $24.24/hr.
$72.72


VIEWING/COPYING CHARGES:
$0.00






SPECIAL CHARGES/POSTAGE:







TOTAL ESTIMATED LABOR CHARGES:
$72.72




Tax Exempt # - 59-1395059


*Make check or money order payable to PSTA and send to 3201 Scherer Drive, St. Petersburg, FL 33716;

Attention: Rachael Garofalo.  Please note "Public Record Request" on check or money order. Documents
will be compiled upon receipt of payment. Thank you.
**Cost for labor (if any) is an estimate.

From: dr.webb@verizon.net
To Clarissa Keresztes
Feb 22
Clarissa: 
I am becoming a bit concerned about how this Public Records Request is being processed.

The request is for electronic records of these purchases.

I find it very hard to believe that is necessary for someone to hand copy, documents when these purchases had to be processed through the procurement system and paid from the accounting system.

Further, I find it hard to believe that these orders, invoices and payments only exist in paper form.

Please refer this request to the Purchasing department and/or the Accounting department for review.

Thanks for all your help. 
Dr. E. Eugene Webb

From: Clarissa Keresztes
To  Dr. Webb Rachael Garofalo Sangita Land
Feb 24 at 4:02 PM
Dr. Webb: 
The invoice I sent you is an estimate of three hours labor for staff to locate the records you are requesting.  I did not indicate on your invoice any copy charges.
Thank you.
Clarissa Keresztes
Administrative Assistant
Executive Department  
Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority

From: dr.webb@verizon.net
To Clarissa Keresztes
Feb 25 at 7:52 AM
Clarrisa:
My mistake, I thought the labor charge was for finding and copying.

However, that still does not answer my question as to why this information is not readily available from either the procurement or accounting systems?

Given the small number of bus vendors and the highly specialized nature of the windows, tinted inserts and tinted windows it would not appear that this information should be that difficult to acquire.

All I require is a list of vendors and total amount of money spent on this issue in 2013. It can be a lump sum or a breakdown by month; I do not need the copies or pdfs of the actual invoices.
Gene
Dr. E. Eugene Webb

From: Clarissa Keresztes
To Dr. Webb Rachael Garofalo Sangita Land
Feb 27 at 9:22 AM
Dr. Webb:

In response to your most recent public records request for a list of vendors and total amount of money spent in 2013 (highlighted in red below), there are no responsive records.
Thank you.
Clarissa Keresztes
Administrative Assistant
Executive Department
Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority

End of e-mail thread
It would seem that the PSTA is going a bit out of their way to not provide the requested information. First it was going to take three hours to find it, and then there are no records available.

All of this stone walling and ducking is just going to cast more suspicion on the GreenLight effort.

If these records exist and they can't find them, then why would we give PSTA a $130 million dollar windfall to mismanage?

If these records exist and the PSTA administration is hiding them behind clever definitions or through some other subterfuge then there is a serious problem

If the people cannot get public information from the PSTA about issues related to the biggest tax increase in Pinellas County history there is a serious problem.

How about it PSTA Board?

Why don't you ask the question in advance of the next meeting and get a full report from Mr. Miller and his staff.

e-mail Doc at: dr.webb@verizon.net, or send me a Facebook (Gene Webb)Friend request. See More of Doc at Bay Post Internet and St.Pete Patch, Gulfport Patch, Clearwater Patch, Palm Harbor Patch, Largo Patch.
Disclosures: Contributor to No Tax for Tracks
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