Pettis County Fails to Respond to Public Records Requests Again

Blast Zone No. 25834 - 3 Comments
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Broken County Form with Nick La Strada
Broken County Form with Nick La Strada

Pettis County is again refusing to comply with public records requests by constructively denying the public a way to formally request records and ignoring requests sent to county officials. We found that out after trying to get around Kevin Bond's refusal to turn over records we sought directly from the Pettis County Sheriff's Office (https://copblaster.com/blast/25797/pettis-county-sheriff-kevin-c-bond-refuses-to-comply-with-foia). To get around Bond's refusal we first tried contacting the county itself through their online contact form but the form was broken. Then we tried to contact a county office and a county official via email, but they did not respond to the email. The goal was to obtain documents created by county departments other than the Sheriff that could be used to narrow down our field of suspects in the Hannah Fizer murder case (https://copblaster.com/blast/25799/pettis-county-sheriffs-office-staff-roster-sedalia-state-police).


Anyone that visits the Pettis County website (pettiscomo.com) will notice a link that says "Contact Us" which takes them to a form with a number of required fields including a captcha. Whenever you fill out the form properly, fill out the captcha code correctly, and click submit you are taken to an error page at http://www.mycontactform.com/sendform/sendform.php with the error message pictured about this article which reads as follows:


"This form is not being sent from the url where it is supposed to be located. If you are the owner of this form you need to ensure that the 'Form Location' is specified as pettiscomo.com/contact. To change this, login to the site, click 'edit' next to the form's name, and then click the 'Basic Information' link to change the form's location. Currently you have the 'Form Location' specified as: http://pettiscomo.com/contact-us/ http://pettiscommission.com/contact-us"


This error message indicates that MyContactForm.com was expecting the request to come from /contact-us/ instead of /contact/ on the source website. All Pettis County needs to do to fix this is make sure that the right source URL is specified. They may have actually fixed this problem today. We say this because we were finally able to get a message sent confirmation without an error while trying to reproduce this error a few minutes ago, but we had the same problem a few minutes before that. If this error has not been entirely fixed then the people of Pettis County are without an online form to use when requesting public records. That is a constructive denial


Since the form was unavailable to us we decided to send an email to Jill Anderson at the office of the Public Administrator (pettispubadmin[at]pettiscomo.com) and County Clerk Nick La Strada (nick[at]pettiscomo.com). Those destinations were chosen because we were seeking un-redacted copies of the 2020 Pettis County Financial Statement complete with the names of all county employees grouped by department and how much they were each paid last year. We made this request after finding the 2010 Pettis County Financial Statement online (https://copblaster.com/uploads/files/pettis-county-financial-statement-2010.pdf). Nick La Strada signed the 2010 statement. We planned to use this statement to figure out which PCSO deputies are listed in both statements. We also asked for the hiring dates of all county employees listed in the 2020 Pettis County Financial Statement.


The email sent to pettispubadmin[at]pettiscomo.com and nick[at]pettiscomo.com


Dear Pettis County Officials,


The contact form on your website at http://pettiscomo.com/contact/ does not work so I am contacting the two of you via email. My request follows:


Public Records Request:


I hereby request a full and un-redacted copy of the 2020 Pettis County Financial Statement in a format that is identical or similar to the 2010 statement available online at https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/read/8565402/pettis-county-financial-statement-sedalia-news-journal preferably in a PDF file. The final product should include the names of every individual paid by the county last year, how much they were paid, and what county agency paid them.


If possible, I would also like to know the hiring dates of each county employee.


This request is being made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Missouri Sunshine Law


---END of Message---


The message also included contact information. The Missouri Sunshine Law requires a response within 3 business days. Our request was sent on June 29th and as of July 7th we have not heard back. Hopefully now that the form appears to be working we will have better luck.


UPDATE: Another batch of requests at least got responses. One to the Collector resulted in a message from Marsha Boeschen boeschenm[at]pettiscomo.com stating "Payroll records would all be handled by the Pettis county clerks office. Thank you, Marsha Boeschen, Pettis County Collector." So according to her we were on the right track when asking La Strada for records. We also heard from the treasurer Kim Lyne who said "There are no such records in the Pettis County Treasurers Office."


We got a couple more rejections of records requests today.

We would like to send a request to Beverly Dillon because she is the auditor that the caller mentioned, but she has no email address or other form of online contact information https://pettiscomo.com/auditor/ which is why we did not add her to the email that went to La Strada and the Administrator.

Got a message from someone that has given us some really good feedback over the past few weeks. He says that La Strada only handles elections and that the Public Administrator was not the right person to go to either. He said that the Public Administrator handles things like disability claims and other things unrelated to records. This would explain them not producing the records sought, but they should have either forwarded the request to the right person or at least responded by saying that they are not the right people.


We did get the name of someone in Accounting, so we will look into that. Hopefully that message we sent via the form will be enough.

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