The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Exerpts from Blogmore's Kooiker Chat

Kevin and Emilie did a nice job moderating the chat and it's worth going to read the entire text here.

Sam: With eight eight votes to bring this censure resolution to a public discussion, do you feel the weight of the council against you? And could that lead the public to presume you've been guilty of misconduct? K.W.

Kooiker: The release of the resolution before all the information was available is unfortunate. I was not allowed to see or respond to the supposed supporting information before the resolution was made public.

Sam: The key issue here was a complaint brought by the city Rapid Transit manager, charging you with what I guess we could call harassment and bullying over a period of months and even years. How do you respond to that? K.W.

Kooiker: 110 pages of emails are referred to in the resolution, However, I sent less than 30 emails (which is a lot less than 30 pages) to Mr. Sagen between the timeframe of 2003 and 2008.

Prior to Sept 2009, a period of 15 months went by where made no inquiries of Rapid Transit. My last email of substance to Mr. Sagen was a Thank You email in October 2007, and I responded to one of his messages in early 2008.

The issue last September involves only 6 emails, all of which involved Mr. Sagen's supervisor, Robert Ellis (Public Works Director).

The emails are all available for anyone to look at, and they are professional and simply show I am following up on constituent requests.

Sam, Emilie here. A censure is essentially a very public slap on the wrist. You're up for re-election this year -- Do you think there will be other repercussions? In other words, so what?

Kooiker: It is no fun to be going through this. I find myself in the unusual position of having to explain why I ask questions, when that is precisely what my constituents have repeatedly elected me to do...

Sam: You have said recently that you no longer believe the cost of the tossed brochures was $30,000, right? And to clarify, you're saying that when you were using the $30,000 figure, you didn't know that it was incorrect? K.W.

Kooiker: After the public works meeting in September, Mr. Ellis provided me the receipts, showing the cost to be less than 30k. After he provided the receipts, I didn't pursue it any further. I thanked him for following up. Regarding the figure of 30k, that was a number others gave me and I didn't know if it was correct or not, which is why I was asking for the invoices.

[Comment From Michael : ]

Sam: Did the invoices you received from Mr. Ellis contain the costs from the advertising agency that conceived and designed the brochures and the agency's commission?

Kooiker: I don't believe so because they are 3rd party invoices, and do not appear to be the invoices that were sent to the city for payment.

I do not have invoices from the ad firm.

Read the whole thing here.


Anonymous said...

I wanted to ask: why was the personal information of disabled people released by the city? When I read the 2009 report, I was shocked that the city would release such information.

Shouldn't the city have redacted personally identifying information of the disabled? I read about one guy with cancer Sam was trying to help.

Michael Sanborn said...

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) Privacy and Security Rules

The Office for Civil Rights enforces the HIPAA Privacy Rule, which protects the privacy of individually identifiable health information; the HIPAA Security Rule, which sets national standards for the security of electronic protected health information; and the confidentiality provisions of the Patient Safety Rule, which protect identifiable information being used to analyze patient safety events and improve patient safety.

I was surprised to see it there too. I was surprised to see that seeing impaired people were identified. I was surprised to see Mr. Sagen's email suggesting the city try to get a complaining constituent in trouble with his employer. I was surprised to see Mr. Sagen's sticky note on the email you're talking about telling people to not take the individual seriously because of his handicap.

There's a bunch of stuff in there that, if I were Mr. Sagen, I would not want made public. But, he and the city made it public when the resolution for censure was set for hearing.

That stuff could have been redacted without having an effect on the matter at hand, yet, they chose to violate federal privacy laws...go figure.

Michael Sanborn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael Sanborn said...

Post above was removed – by me – for my own poor grammar.

More on HIPAA

Criminal Penalties
In June 2005, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) clarified who can be held criminally liable under HIPAA. Covered entities and specified individuals, as explained below, whom "knowingly" obtain or disclose individually identifiable health information in violation of the Administrative Simplification Regulations face a fine of up to $50,000, as well as imprisonment up to one year. Offenses committed under false pretenses allow penalties to be increased to a $100,000 fine, with up to five years in prison. Finally, offenses committed with the intent to sell, transfer, or use individually identifiable health information for commercial advantage, personal gain or malicious harm permit fines of $250,000, and imprisonment for up to ten years.

I assume the city attorney and the city's outside attorney were aware – or should have been aware – of the penalties associated with revealing the information they did and chose to disregard it.

I'm not sure, but they may have been warned to redact that information, which makes it willful.

And, when you see the sticky note that Mr. Sagen attached, and the city also made public, how difficult will it be to prove malice?

Any lawyers out there?

Anonymous said...

HIPAA does not apply here, HIPAA applies to covered entities such as hospitals. There are federal and state privacy acts, but the federal government is not involved here and SD is one of 5 states without a privacy act.

That post-it note on page 109 of the 2009 report gave me the chills - so very disrespectful of the disabled.

I can't believe these names weren't inked out. Someone at city hall really dropped the ball.

Also, it sounds like many of those who work under Mr. Sagen don't like him very much. The reports mention that Mr. Sagen failed to get his CDL even though that was a requirement for his highly paid job. Funny how the city council is siding with the mean-spirited, unqualified department head and Sam is fighting for the regular guy of Rapid City. I wish the mayor would exercise the type of leadership Sam exercises.

Anonymous said...

Re: Sagen getting his CDL, it is stated in the documents that he is not required to have it, but part of his job description says that he must be able to fill in for the supervisors that work under him. The supervisors that work under him quite often have to drive part of the bus route when the routes are way behind schedule and they must be able to deliver busses in case of emergency to a driver with a break down. Ellis states that you don't have to have a CDL if operating an empty bus, but that is incorrect. Per the SD-CDL manual any bus capable of transporting 16 persons including the driver, you are required to have one.

Anonymous said...

Over 1000 emails over two years - virtually 2 per day counting weekends and holidays. Over 1200 pages. All "chasing down" less than 0.02% of the $150million dollar city budget. This alderman is a major disruptive force - it's like he's worried about the gum stuck under the seats while the theater burns down. His judgment is indefensible.

Anonymous said...

Those 1000 pages of email cover a ton of issues - mostly constituent concerns. The city is making people pay over 100.00 to view those emails - even though they could scan them in and let the regular people see them. So much for Hanks' pledge to have an open government (notice in the Journal today that Jason Green, city attorney, said he concerned not releasing the emails to the public at all).