OPEN GOVERNMENT – MY FOOT!

Last night I sat through 65 minutes of one of the most embarrassing and disgusting displays of stonewalling I have ever seen. First let me say – for those who don’t know – I am Maria Parra’s campaign manager.

When Maria contacted me a few months ago and asked me to take the role, she said “don’t worry, you won’t have to do much. I replied that if I decided to do it, I would give my best and did not want to be just a fill-in name for a form. I called her back a couple of days later and said I would take the position.

I realize that Maria’s campaign is for a county election which does not draw the same attention and create the same excitement as the state and federal elections. But Maria also serves on the Wayne Township Advisory Board as an elected official. Those who have read the daily papers know that what ensued last night was not pleasant.

Last night’s meeting was to resolve Maria’s request for a number of documents that she had been requesting for quite some time. I have to admit, I would rather have skipped the meeting because last night was my late night at work, and I was tired. But I had told Maria I would be there, so I took a break and went.

I am glad now that I did. I thought it would be fairly short and the documents would be provided. Pretty simple – right? Maria prepared and sent in a request. The documents were at the Trustee’s Office. They would be copied and given to Maria. 1 + 1 + 1 = 3.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Once the meeting started, it turned into nothing more than a trashing of Maria for requesting the information. Mark GiaQuinta sarcastically argued that the entire office and its work had to come to a halt to respond to Maria’s request. I guess his goal was to impose a guilt trip. I have to tell you if that is all it takes to stop the office, then we are in trouble.

GiaQuinta also made a condescending suggestion that the office should start an expanding folder so that if Maria needs documents in the future, one copy can be made for her and one copy could put in the folder in case she lost or misplaced them again.

In between his condescending comments, he challenged her knowledge of the process and her motive for requesting the documents. Maria asked several times during the session if Tony could just give her the documents. After over an hour, he finally capitulated and handed over what documents he did have – a task that could have been done in the first five minutes of the meeting.

I left feeling like the AFLAC duck shaking its head after talking to Yogi Berra in one of the older commercials. I was not only stunned at the actions of the other advisory board members and Mr. GiaQuinta but also shocked that someone would have to go through this just to obtain information that is to be available to the public and must be provided if requested.

And, honestly, I am still shaking my head tonight over something so simple as providing documents upon request. They should have been provided months ago and last night’s debacle would never have been necessary. Am I glad I went? You betcha because this was a real eye opener.

Open government? Maybe it should be called “forced open government.”

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About Charlotte A. Weybright

I own a home in the historical West Central Neighborhood of Fort Wayne, Indiana. I have four grown sons and nine grandchildren - four grandsons and five granddaughters. I love to work on my home, and I enjoy crafts of all types. But, most of all, I enjoy being involved in political and community issues.
This entry was posted in Allen County Government, Fort Wayne, Politics, Uncategorized, Women in Politics. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to OPEN GOVERNMENT – MY FOOT!

  1. If you look up the word egotistical dickhead in the dictionary – Mark GiaQuinta’s picture stands as the only entry.

  2. J. Q. Taxpayer says:

    Sadly I have to agree with Mark GiaQuinta. But why be surprised. Look at the way he has conducted himself on the Fort Wayne Community Schools Board. His mode is to talk down to those he opposes and see if they run away.

    I would think as the Trustee one would want to make sure the advisory board had everything they needed. That way they are informed ahead of time with the facts before he requests them to do things. Oh Well, maybe that is not how THAT TOWNSHIP runs things.

    One has to ask if the Trustee is trying to hide things and GiaQuinta (formally known as GIA-PET) is playing a roll in it?

    Charlotte, congrats on Manager’s spot.

  3. Phil Marx says:

    Charlotte,

    If this was an eye opener to you, I would like to ask what county you have been living in for the past few years.

    Here’s a tip for GiaQuinta and all other public officials. How about you get your heads out of your a** and start to realize who it is you work for. Yes Mr. GiaQinta, you should create a folder. And you should automatically place every document that is of public concern in that folder and make it easily accesible so that someone doesn’t even have to come to you to request information that should be theirs without explanation.

    So Mr. GiaQinta is a failure for not making public documents public, then he tries to lay the blame on the person who is requesting thes public documents. How ridiculous. And how typical for Allen County politics.

  4. Lorraine says:

    Wow..you are first outraged that the Board (not just Mr.GiaQuinta according to the media reports) was critical of Mrs. Parra on a personal level. Then you use this forum to personally bash him as well. It kind of dilutes your indignation.

  5. Phil Marx says:

    Lorraine,

    I really don’t get the comparison. Charlotte made no personal attack against anybody on her original post. I will admit that by suggesting certain people pull their heads out of their a**, my comment was somewhat personal, but I think this was deserved.

    I suppose a police officer could respond to a person filing a complaint by saying “Look, if people like you would quit bugging us with stuff like this, then we’d have more time to do our job.” That would be as ridiculous as what Mr. GiaQuinta apparantly said. Part of his job is to provide access to those public documents. If he fails to do this, then he is the cause of the problem. And if he denigrates the person who is asking for this information then I believe that qualifies him as an a**. I think my personal attack here is fully warranted.

  6. Lorraine:

    I fail to see where I personally bashed Mr. GiaQuinta. I provided statements that he made – how is that bashing him? If you looked at the newspaper coverage, they also reported those statements- although their coverage was probably more realistic word for word. Are they also bashing GiaQuinta?

    I stand by what I said happened and the way Maria was treated.

    If you had been there, I would hope you would have felt the same way. There was absolutely no reason for the disrespect and denigration that took place.

    If any of us, as citizens, requests public documents, I would hope that they would be provided without making the citizen feel like he or she should be on a guilt trip. This was a simple request with a response so off the wall that it was unbelievable.

  7. Phil:

    I have been living in Allen County for 16 years now. I have attended City Council meetings although not on a regular basis.

    And, sorry if you see me as a Pollyanna, but I was shocked at the way this was handled. I am sure from now on I will be more prepared and more realistic.

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  9. Rob Grayless says:

    It almost makes you wonder what Tony Henry, Mark GiaQuinta and Trustee Stevenson are trying to hide? I attended the meeting and witnessed the shell game perpetrated by Mark GiaQuinta…and I’m sure his parents would be proud of the way he showed his a** and his ignorance. I have never seen anyone as condescending and rude as he is.

    I thought it ironic that GiaQuinta attended the meeting to begin with, as he represents Trustee Stevenson, who was present but only observed the meeting…and why shouldn’t he…when he can sick his attack Mark (dog) onto Board Member Parra for asking that the township provide her with public documents. They wasted 65 minutes bitching about hidden motives and hidden agendas, then admitted that they would provide the material because by law they are required to. Then why did they need to have the meeting…for one purpose…to bully and browbeat Parra into compliance with the party-line, and to have her ease up on Stevenson’s office.

    Just my 2 cents.

  10. Rob:

    Thanks for your 2 cents. 🙂 I wasn’t sure in what capacity GiaQuinta appeared. You bring up an interesting point though – why did they have the public meeting when all they had to do was provide the materials?

    When Mike Sylvester, Jeff Pruitt, or others ask for materials, I don’t recall a public meeting being held to discuss the issue and whether or not to comply with the request.

  11. Phil Marx says:

    Charlotte,

    For the record, you are correct that no public meeting was held for Mike and Jeff’s requests. Jeff had the audacity to file a FOI request to get access to public documents, and Mike’s requests was simply ignored.

    Both these examples had to do with last years Harrison Square deal. That is what I was referring to when I indicated that the recent lack of open government was no eye opener to me.

    We have a lot of local officials who want anything but open government. And we have a local media that is often asleep at the wheel. Although there is a lot of B.S. you have to cut through someties, I think the blogs as a whole are sometimes the best place to find out what is going on. They may not always have the depth of a researched news article, but there is absolutely nothing that escapes mention here.

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