Public Contracts (Office Of The City Manager)

Dan Rubins filed this request with the Office Of The City Manager of Hollister, CA .
Multi Request Public Contracts
Due July 21, 2018
Est. Completion Feb. 29, 2020
Status
Awaiting Response

Communications

From: Dan Rubins

To Whom It May Concern:

I. Background Information

Contract administration is frequently a source of concerning behavior in the public sector. For example:
- In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, a company with only two employees (Whitefish Energy) was hired hired by PREPA, Puerto Rico's public utility company, to restore power to the island at a cost of $300M. The contract had audit-proofing clauses and left little recourse for PREPA due to nonperformance. After 8 months, Puerto Rico did not have power fully restored and now Congressional and FBI investigations are pending.
- During an internal audit of the City of San Diego's contracting practices, the contract with office products supplier Staples was found to exceed the City Council's approved $2M annual threshold by a full $1M. Auditors found found insufficient financial controls and produced a further 60 pages of recommendations.
- The US Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) found sustained exceptions for incurred costs audits 28.6% of the time in its 2017 Report to Congress.
- From 2010 to 2013, a Maryland Transit Authority employee allegedly used poor contracting oversight to siphon $6.3M from the state coffers.
- The City of Vallejo, CA was recently the victim of an alleged contracting kickback scheme run by the city's landscape maintenance manager, only uncovered in an FBI investigation. The kickback scheme occurred only a few years after the city was in Chapter 9 bankruptcy because of ballooning contractual obligations.
- In recent years, officials in the southern California cities of Bell, Irwindale, La Puente, Monterey Park, Pico Rivera, Temple City, and Vernon have been brought up on various public corruption charges.

While the vast majority of public contracting is done with integrity, bad actors and a lack of public knowledge have a disproportionate effect on the fiscal wellbeing and public trust of every level of government.

II. Requested Records

Pursuant to the { law }, I hereby request the following records:

1. Any and all executed contracts, memorandums of understanding (MOUs), and other equivalent agreements that are currently active, or were active within the last two years, other than standard employee agreements. Please provide a copy of the executed document as well as any addenda, amendments, attachments, exhibits, materials, and schedules.

2. Any and all contract template documents, for example, employee agreements, vendor agreements, master services agreements, nondisclosure agreements, or interagency cooperation contracts.

3. General policies and procedures for contract administration, including training materials and records used to instruct members of your agency in contract administration.

4. Any available process narratives, audit reports, or findings regarding contract administration covering the last two years.

I am happy to discuss any issues or suggestions to make fulfillment more manageable for your office.

III. Fees

If there are any fees for searching or copying these records, please inform me in advance of fulfilling the request.

I would also like to request a waiver of all fees in that the disclosure of the requested information is in the public interest and will contribute significantly to the public's understanding of how governments manage public money and the obligations to which they are entrusted.

Neither I, nor my company (Legal Robot), has any commercial interest in obtaining the requested information. Rather, we intend to use software to analyze and disseminate the requested information free of charge so that the public may identify patterns of bad behavior that, when eliminated, will benefit governments and the public alike.

We plan to enrich and cross-link the information we receive from multiple jurisdictions, and provide an exploratory interface for the public on the internet, for free. Because we consider this work to be Data Journalism, and we further expect to provide our analysis to other media organizations for additional print and online publication, I ask to be categorized as a representative of the news media. Upon request, I am happy to provide our analysis and any articles we write based on our analysis in advance of publication, though I cannot speak for other media outlets.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 10 calendar days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Dan Rubins

From: Dan Rubins

Hello,

I have not yet received a response to my public records request submitted on 7/13/18. As a reminder, the California Public Records Act requires an initial response within 10 calendar days. I understand the first part of my request is relatively large, so hopefully my comments here limit the scope of responsive documents. Also, please let me know if you need more time.

Regarding the first part of the request: I am looking at the last couple years of legal language, primarily in procurement documents, so plans, drawings, price lists or other attachments without legal terms are not necessary, if that helps. We can easily exclude agreements that use standard templates, if I can get a blank template (hence, request part 2).

Perhaps we can start with a subset of records that are already in electronic form? The actual signature is not important for my work, I am just looking for the version of the document that was executed. If any of the agreements are already online through agendas or meeting minutes, please direct me to those and we can easily exclude those documents from this request.

Finally, please feel free to email or call me at (415) 894-0240 if you have questions or need any clarification.

Thanks,
Dan Rubins

From: Dan Rubins

To whom it may concern:

The California Public Records Act (Cal. Gov’t Code § 6253(c)) specifically requires that an agency provide a response to a public records request within ten business days of receipt of that request. I submitted this request 11 months ago.

By failing to respond to this request within the legally-mandated timeframe, this agency is in violation of the law.

Please provide acknowledgment of this request and the responsive materials forthwith. If such materials cannot be produced, please provide an appropriate explanation for this rejection, as is dictated by this agency's legal obligations under the California Public Records Act. Your accelerated attention to this matter will be greatly appreciated.

From: Office Of The City Manager

Dear Mr. Rubins:

Thank you for your request for documents under the California Public Records Act. However, as phrased, the request is unlimited by time and will require the production of thousands of pages of documents. Would you consider limiting your request to only those contracts entered into within the last two years? If there are other ways in which you can limit your request, that would greatly help the City in determining which documents are responsive to your needs. I am willing to work with you to achieve the goal of producing the documents you need. After we have a clearer idea of exactly what documents you seek, I will be in a better position to advise you of both the expense and time required to produce responsive documentation.

Thank you,

Christine Black, MMC, City Clerk
City of Hollister, 375 Fifth Street, Hollister, CA 95023
831-636-4300 x 17
831-636-4310 Fax
christine.black@hollister.ca.gov<mailto:christine.black@hollister.ca.gov>

[CityHollisterWebLogo_trans_EmailImage]

http://hollister.ca.gov/

E-mail correspondence with the City of Hollister (and attachments, if any) may be subject to the California Public Records Act, and as such may therefore be subject to public disclosure unless otherwise exempt under the act. Note: Using the “Reply All” option may inadvertently result in a Brown Act violation.
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From: Office Of The City Manager

Dear Mr. Rubins:

Thank you for your request for documents under the California Public Records Act. However, as phrased, the request is unlimited by time and will require the production of thousands of pages of documents. Would you consider limiting your request to only those contracts entered into within the last two years? If there are other ways in which you can limit your request, that would greatly help the City in determining which documents are responsive to your needs. I am willing to work with you to achieve the goal of producing the documents you need. After we have a clearer idea of exactly what documents you seek, I will be in a better position to advise you of both the expense and time required to produce responsive documentation.

Thank you,

Christine Black, MMC, City Clerk
City of Hollister, 375 Fifth Street, Hollister, CA 95023
831-636-4300 x 17
831-636-4310 Fax
christine.black@hollister.ca.gov<mailto:christine.black@hollister.ca.gov>

[CityHollisterWebLogo_trans_EmailImage]

http://hollister.ca.gov/

E-mail correspondence with the City of Hollister (and attachments, if any) may be subject to the California Public Records Act, and as such may therefore be subject to public disclosure unless otherwise exempt under the act. Note: Using the “Reply All” option may inadvertently result in a Brown Act violation.
☺ Please Register to VOTE! https://registertovote.ca.gov/

From: Dan Rubins

Ms. Black,
Thanks for your response. We are only looking at the last three years, but if two years is all that is available under the records retention schedule, we would be happy to take that. I should also mention that we have revised our standard language for clarity and to help ease the workload on cities. Please see below:

Pursuant to the California Public Records Act, I hereby request the following records:
- All contracts, including memoranda of understanding (MOUs), letters of intent (LOIs), side letters, or other agreements that are currently active, or were active within the last three years. Please include attachments, addendums, amendments, and change orders.
- Records of contract approvals by employees or public official.
- Policies and procedures for contract administration, including delegation or approval thresholds.
- Any process narratives or audit reports regarding contract administration.
- The current records retention schedule.

I am happy to discuss how we can make the fulfillment of this request easier for your agency, like extending the timeline or monthly production schedule.

Information that has helped other agencies fully respond:
- A link will suffice if records are already published online, for example, sometimes full contracts are published in meeting agendas or packets. In this case, we could simply use a link to the main agenda webpage.
- Documents need not be organized together or linked in any way, as long as sufficient identifying information is available. For example, it is common for contracts to be stored in a contract or document management system while change order approvals may be housed in another system. Change orders may not even have an associated document, just an approval record in some database. In this case, we could work with an excel file, CSV, or other data dumps of change order approvals and a data dictionary, in addition to the contract document.
- If the active dates of contracts are not readily available, the execution date, internal approval date, or other date is likely sufficient.
- Please deliver the files in whatever method is most convenient for your office. We have received mail with a USB drive (which we happily pay for), CDs, or DVDs. We have received sharing links to online storage services (Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, etc.), public records portals, FTP credentials, and emails with individual files or compressed attachments. The upload link at the bottom of this email is also available.

What are we doing and why?
Legal Robot uses machine learning to understand contracts. As part of the AI Ethics Initiative (which funds this work), we are sourcing contracts from many public agencies across the US to support investigative journalism and improve the negotiating position of public agencies. All materials will be made available to the public, for free. As this effort is completed in the public interest, the compiled data will also be available to your agency, for free.

From: Office Of The City Manager

RE: PRA request to the City of Hollister for Contracts, Agreements, etc. going back 3 years - Received on 7/1/2019

Dear Mr. Rubins:

Thank you for your prior request to the City of Hollister under the California Public Records Act, as well as your subsequent communication.

The documentation you are requesting is voluminous and the City of Hollister's response will require extensive coordination and review by multiple departments. At this time I estimate the cost of the response to be between $6.00 to $10.00. If all the documents will fit onto one flash drive, the cost will be $6.00 for the flash drive plus shipping costs. It appears that we should be able to provide a response by September 12, 2019. If we are able to provide a response sooner, the City certainly will do so.

We have previously attempted to narrow the scope of your request in order to provide a thorough response earlier than the current estimated timeline. I assume, however, that you have narrowed the scope of your request to the extent you believe possible. If you are able to narrow it further then please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Nova Romero, CMC
Deputy City Clerk
375 Fifth Street, Hollister, CA 95023
(831) 636-4300 x16
Nova.romero@hollister.ca.gov<mailto:Nova.romero@hollister.ca.gov>
Hollister.ca.gov

Your vote matters! Register to vote here<https://registertovote.ca.gov/>

From: Dan Rubins

Thank you so much for your help with this request. I look forward to hearing more in September.
Sincerely,
Dan Rubins

From:

Mr. Rubins:

Thank you for your email below. The City of Hollister is still in the
process of reviewing the documents which might be responsive to your
request. This involves several thousand pages. As such, I believe we will
be able to provide a further response to your request by October 18, 2019.
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions and thank you for
your patience.

Sincerely,

*Jason S. Epperson*
*Epperson Law Group, PC*
*Tel: 559-500-1600*

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: requests@muckrock.com <
requests@muckrock.com>
Date: Tue, Jul 16, 2019 at 11:19 PM
Subject: RE: California Public Records Act Request: Public Contracts
(Office Of The City Manager)
To: <nova.romero@hollister.ca.gov>
Cc: Christine Black <christine.black@hollister.ca.gov>, Jason S. Epperson <
jason@eppersonlawgroup.com>

July 17, 2019

This is a follow up to a previous request:

Thank you so much for your help with this request. I look forward to
hearing more in September.
Sincerely,
Dan Rubins

Filed via MuckRock.com
E-mail (Preferred): requests@muckrock.com
Upload documents directly:
https://accounts.muckrock.com/accounts/login/?url_auth_token=AABCyG3J3sQQaoiP8tp7w59ztqA%3A1hndHG%3Ad4OpbAmrtyro7VKRKH7-WqhQAz0&next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.muckrock.com%2Faccounts%2Flogin%2F%3Fnext%3D%252Faccounts%252Fagency_login%252Foffice-of-the-city-manager-14930%252Fpublic-contracts-office-of-the-city-manager-57850%252F%253Femail%253Dnova.romero%252540hollister.ca.gov
Is this email coming to the wrong contact? Something else wrong? Use the
above link to let us know.

For mailed responses, please address (see note):
MuckRock News
DEPT MR 57850
411A Highland Ave
Somerville, MA 02144-2516

PLEASE NOTE: This request is not filed by a MuckRock staff member, but is
being sent through MuckRock by the above in order to better track, share,
and manage public records requests. Also note that improperly addressed
(i.e., with the requester's name rather than "MuckRock News" and the
department number) requests might be returned as undeliverable.

---

On July 12, 2019:
Subject: PRA Request for City of Hollister Contracts and Agreements
RE: PRA request to the City of Hollister for Contracts, Agreements, etc.
going back 3 years - Received on 7/1/2019

Dear Mr. Rubins:

Thank you for your prior request to the City of Hollister under the
California Public Records Act, as well as your subsequent communication.

The documentation you are requesting is voluminous and the City of
Hollister's response will require extensive coordination and review by
multiple departments. At this time I estimate the cost of the response to
be between $6.00 to $10.00. If all the documents will fit onto one flash
drive, the cost will be $6.00 for the flash drive plus shipping costs. It
appears that we should be able to provide a response by September 12, 2019.
If we are able to provide a response sooner, the City certainly will do so.

We have previously attempted to narrow the scope of your request in order
to provide a thorough response earlier than the current estimated timeline.
I assume, however, that you have narrowed the scope of your request to the
extent you believe possible. If you are able to narrow it further then
please do not hesitate to contact me.

Sincerely,

Nova Romero, CMC
Deputy City Clerk
375 Fifth Street, Hollister, CA 95023
(831) 636-4300 x16
Nova.romero@hollister.ca.gov<mailto:Nova.romero@hollister.ca.gov>
Hollister.ca.gov

Your vote matters! Register to vote here<https://registertovote.ca.gov/>

---

On July 1, 2019:
Subject: RE: California Public Records Act Request: Public Contracts
(Office Of The City Manager)
Ms. Black,
Thanks for your response. We are only looking at the last three years, but
if two years is all that is available under the records retention schedule,
we would be happy to take that. I should also mention that we have revised
our standard language for clarity and to help ease the workload on cities.
Please see below:

Pursuant to the California Public Records Act, I hereby request the
following records:
- All contracts, including memoranda of understanding (MOUs), letters of
intent (LOIs), side letters, or other agreements that are currently active,
or were active within the last three years. Please include attachments,
addendums, amendments, and change orders.
- Records of contract approvals by employees or public official.
- Policies and procedures for contract administration, including delegation
or approval thresholds.
- Any process narratives or audit reports regarding contract administration.
- The current records retention schedule.

I am happy to discuss how we can make the fulfillment of this request
easier for your agency, like extending the timeline or monthly production
schedule.

Information that has helped other agencies fully respond:
- A link will suffice if records are already published online, for example,
sometimes full contracts are published in meeting agendas or packets. In
this case, we could simply use a link to the main agenda webpage.
- Documents need not be organized together or linked in any way, as long as
sufficient identifying information is available. For example, it is common
for contracts to be stored in a contract or document management system
while change order approvals may be housed in another system. Change orders
may not even have an associated document, just an approval record in some
database. In this case, we could work with an excel file, CSV, or other
data dumps of change order approvals and a data dictionary, in addition to
the contract document.
- If the active dates of contracts are not readily available, the execution
date, internal approval date, or other date is likely sufficient.
- Please deliver the files in whatever method is most convenient for your
office. We have received mail with a USB drive (which we happily pay for),
CDs, or DVDs. We have received sharing links to online storage services
(Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, etc.), public records
portals, FTP credentials, and emails with individual files or compressed
attachments. The upload link at the bottom of this email is also available.

What are we doing and why?
Legal Robot uses machine learning to understand contracts. As part of the
AI Ethics Initiative (which funds this work), we are sourcing contracts
from many public agencies across the US to support investigative journalism
and improve the negotiating position of public agencies. All materials will
be made available to the public, for free. As this effort is completed in
the public interest, the compiled data will also be available to your
agency, for free.
---

On July 1, 2019:
Subject: RE: California Public Records Act Request: Public Contracts
(Office Of The City Manager)
Dear Mr. Rubins:

Thank you for your request for documents under the California Public
Records Act. However, as phrased, the request is unlimited by time and will
require the production of thousands of pages of documents. Would you
consider limiting your request to only those contracts entered into within
the last two years? If there are other ways in which you can limit your
request, that would greatly help the City in determining which documents
are responsive to your needs. I am willing to work with you to achieve the
goal of producing the documents you need. After we have a clearer idea of
exactly what documents you seek, I will be in a better position to advise
you of both the expense and time required to produce responsive
documentation.

Thank you,

Christine Black, MMC, City Clerk
City of Hollister, 375 Fifth Street, Hollister, CA 95023
831-636-4300 x 17
831-636-4310 Fax
christine.black@hollister.ca.gov<mailto:christine.black@hollister.ca.gov>

[CityHollisterWebLogo_trans_EmailImage]

http://hollister.ca.gov/

E-mail correspondence with the City of Hollister (and attachments, if any)
may be subject to the California Public Records Act, and as such may
therefore be subject to public disclosure unless otherwise exempt under the
act. Note: Using the “Reply All” option may inadvertently result in a Brown
Act violation.
☺ Please Register to VOTE! https://registertovote.ca.gov/

---

On July 1, 2019:
Subject: RE: California Public Records Act Request: Public Contracts
(Office Of The City Manager)
Dear Mr. Rubins:

Thank you for your request for documents under the California Public
Records Act. However, as phrased, the request is unlimited by time and will
require the production of thousands of pages of documents. Would you
consider limiting your request to only those contracts entered into within
the last two years? If there are other ways in which you can limit your
request, that would greatly help the City in determining which documents
are responsive to your needs. I am willing to work with you to achieve the
goal of producing the documents you need. After we have a clearer idea of
exactly what documents you seek, I will be in a better position to advise
you of both the expense and time required to produce responsive
documentation.

Thank you,

Christine Black, MMC, City Clerk
City of Hollister, 375 Fifth Street, Hollister, CA 95023
831-636-4300 x 17
831-636-4310 Fax
christine.black@hollister.ca.gov<mailto:christine.black@hollister.ca.gov>

[CityHollisterWebLogo_trans_EmailImage]

http://hollister.ca.gov/

E-mail correspondence with the City of Hollister (and attachments, if any)
may be subject to the California Public Records Act, and as such may
therefore be subject to public disclosure unless otherwise exempt under the
act. Note: Using the “Reply All” option may inadvertently result in a Brown
Act violation.
☺ Please Register to VOTE! https://registertovote.ca.gov/

---

On June 17, 2019:
Subject: RE: California Public Records Act Request: Public Contracts
(Office Of The City Manager)
To whom it may concern:

The California Public Records Act (Cal. Gov’t Code § 6253(c)) specifically
requires that an agency provide a response to a public records request
within ten business days of receipt of that request. I submitted this
request 11 months ago.

By failing to respond to this request within the legally-mandated
timeframe, this agency is in violation of the law.

Please provide acknowledgment of this request and the responsive materials
forthwith. If such materials cannot be produced, please provide an
appropriate explanation for this rejection, as is dictated by this agency's
legal obligations under the California Public Records Act. Your accelerated
attention to this matter will be greatly appreciated.
---

On July 11, 2018:
Subject: California Public Records Act Request: Public Contracts (Office Of
The City Manager)
To Whom It May Concern:

I. Background Information

Contract administration is frequently a source of concerning behavior in
the public sector. For example:
- In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, a company with only two employees
(Whitefish Energy) was hired hired by PREPA, Puerto Rico's public utility
company, to restore power to the island at a cost of $300M. The contract
had audit-proofing clauses and left little recourse for PREPA due to
nonperformance. After 8 months, Puerto Rico did not have power fully
restored and now Congressional and FBI investigations are pending.
- During an internal audit of the City of San Diego's contracting
practices, the contract with office products supplier Staples was found to
exceed the City Council's approved $2M annual threshold by a full $1M.
Auditors found found insufficient financial controls and produced a further
60 pages of recommendations.
- The US Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) found sustained exceptions
for incurred costs audits 28.6% of the time in its 2017 Report to Congress.
- From 2010 to 2013, a Maryland Transit Authority employee allegedly used
poor contracting oversight to siphon $6.3M from the state coffers.
- The City of Vallejo, CA was recently the victim of an alleged contracting
kickback scheme run by the city's landscape maintenance manager, only
uncovered in an FBI investigation. The kickback scheme occurred only a few
years after the city was in Chapter 9 bankruptcy because of ballooning
contractual obligations.
- In recent years, officials in the southern California cities of Bell,
Irwindale, La Puente, Monterey Park, Pico Rivera, Temple City, and Vernon
have been brought up on various public corruption charges.

While the vast majority of public contracting is done with integrity, bad
actors and a lack of public knowledge have a disproportionate effect on the
fiscal wellbeing and public trust of every level of government.

II. Requested Records

Pursuant to the { law }, I hereby request the following records:

1. Any and all executed contracts, memorandums of understanding (MOUs), and
other equivalent agreements that are currently active, or were active
within the last two years, other than standard employee agreements. Please
provide a copy of the executed document as well as any addenda, amendments,
attachments, exhibits, materials, and schedules.

2. Any and all contract template documents, for example, employee
agreements, vendor agreements, master services agreements, nondisclosure
agreements, or interagency cooperation contracts.

3. General policies and procedures for contract administration, including
training materials and records used to instruct members of your agency in
contract administration.

4. Any available process narratives, audit reports, or findings regarding
contract administration covering the last two years.

I am happy to discuss any issues or suggestions to make fulfillment more
manageable for your office.

III. Fees

If there are any fees for searching or copying these records, please inform
me in advance of fulfilling the request.

I would also like to request a waiver of all fees in that the disclosure of
the requested information is in the public interest and will contribute
significantly to the public's understanding of how governments manage
public money and the obligations to which they are entrusted.

Neither I, nor my company (Legal Robot), has any commercial interest in
obtaining the requested information. Rather, we intend to use software to
analyze and disseminate the requested information free of charge so that
the public may identify patterns of bad behavior that, when eliminated,
will benefit governments and the public alike.

We plan to enrich and cross-link the information we receive from multiple
jurisdictions, and provide an exploratory interface for the public on the
internet, for free. Because we consider this work to be Data Journalism,
and we further expect to provide our analysis to other media organizations
for additional print and online publication, I ask to be categorized as a
representative of the news media. Upon request, I am happy to provide our
analysis and any articles we write based on our analysis in advance of
publication, though I cannot speak for other media outlets.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I
look forward to receiving your response to this request within 10 calendar
days, as the statute requires.

Sincerely,

Dan Rubins

Filed via MuckRock.com
E-mail (Preferred): requests@muckrock.com
Upload documents directly:
https://accounts.muckrock.com/accounts/login/?url_auth_token=AABCyG3J3sQQaoiP8tp7w59ztqA%3A1hndHG%3Ad4OpbAmrtyro7VKRKH7-WqhQAz0&next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.muckrock.com%2Faccounts%2Flogin%2F%3Fnext%3D%252Faccounts%252Fagency_login%252Foffice-of-the-city-manager-14930%252Fpublic-contracts-office-of-the-city-manager-57850%252F%253Femail%253Dnova.romero%252540hollister.ca.gov
Is this email coming to the wrong contact? Something else wrong? Use the
above link to let us know.

For mailed responses, please address (see note):
MuckRock News
DEPT MR 57850
411A Highland Ave
Somerville, MA 02144-2516

PLEASE NOTE: This request is not filed by a MuckRock staff member, but is
being sent through MuckRock by the above in order to better track, share,
and manage public records requests. Also note that improperly addressed
(i.e., with the requester's name rather than "MuckRock News" and the
department number) requests might be returned as undeliverable.

From: Office Of The City Manager

Dear Mr. Rubins:

This office is legal counsel for the City of Hollister. Thank you for your
patience in obtaining the City of Hollister's response to this document
request. The City is continuing to review and prepare the response. It
now appears that a response will not be available until November 29, 2019.
If the response is available prior to that time, it will be provided
earlier. The documents requested require the review and redaction of
several thousand pages. I appreciate your patience. Please do not
hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

*Jason S. Epperson*
*Epperson Law Group, PC*
*Tel: 559-500-1600*

NOTICE: The contents of this message and all attachments, if any, are
intended for the use of only the individual or entity to which it is
address, and contains information that is privileged confidential, and
exempt from disclosure under applicable law. Further, this message and all
attachments, if any, are subject to the attorney-client and attorney work
product privileges. If you are not the intended recipient then you are
hereby notified that you are prohibited from copying, preserving, saving,
or disseminating this message and all attachments, if any. If you have
received this message in error then please notify the sender immediately.
Thank you.

From: Office Of The City Manager

Dear Mr. Rubins:

I would again like to thank you for your patience in the City of Hollister
responding to your request under the Public Records Act. As mentioned in
my prior emails, the request as it stands requires review and redaction of
thousands upon thousands of pages, a completely laborious task. Would you
be willing to limit your request, at this time, to contracts from the last
calendar year? Alternatively, if you are able to narrow your search
categories to more specific areas, that would also assist in providing
documents more timely. As it stands, I expect the City will be able to
make at least a partial production of documents by February 29, 2020.

Again, thank you for your patience and assistance.

Sincerely,

Jason S. Epperson
*Jason S. Epperson*
*Epperson Law Group, PC*
*Tel: 559-500-1600*

NOTICE: The contents of this message and all attachments, if any, are
intended for the use of only the individual or entity to which it is
address, and contains information that is privileged confidential, and
exempt from disclosure under applicable law. Further, this message and all
attachments, if any, are subject to the attorney-client and attorney work
product privileges. If you are not the intended recipient then you are
hereby notified that you are prohibited from copying, preserving, saving,
or disseminating this message and all attachments, if any. If you have
received this message in error then please notify the sender immediately.
Thank you.

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Jason Epperson <jason@eppersonlawgroup.com>
Date: Fri, Oct 18, 2019 at 2:17 PM
Subject: Re: California Public Records Act Request: Public Contracts
(Office Of The City Manager)
To: requests@muckrock.com <
requests@muckrock.com>
Cc: Nova Romero <nova.romero@hollister.ca.gov>, Christine Black <
christine.black@hollister.ca.gov>, Kelsey Rossette <
kelsey@eppersonlawgroup.com>

Dear Mr. Rubins:

This office is legal counsel for the City of Hollister. Thank you for your
patience in obtaining the City of Hollister's response to this document
request. The City is continuing to review and prepare the response. It
now appears that a response will not be available until November 29, 2019.
If the response is available prior to that time, it will be provided
earlier. The documents requested require the review and redaction of
several thousand pages. I appreciate your patience. Please do not
hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

*Jason S. Epperson*
*Epperson Law Group, PC*
*Tel: 559-500-1600*

NOTICE: The contents of this message and all attachments, if any, are
intended for the use of only the individual or entity to which it is
address, and contains information that is privileged confidential, and
exempt from disclosure under applicable law. Further, this message and all
attachments, if any, are subject to the attorney-client and attorney work
product privileges. If you are not the intended recipient then you are
hereby notified that you are prohibited from copying, preserving, saving,
or disseminating this message and all attachments, if any. If you have
received this message in error then please notify the sender immediately.
Thank you.

On Tue, Jul 16, 2019 at 11:19 PM requests@muckrock.com <
requests@muckrock.com> wrote:

> July 17, 2019
>
> This is a follow up to a previous request:
>
> Thank you so much for your help with this request. I look forward to
> hearing more in September.
> Sincerely,
> Dan Rubins
>
> Filed via MuckRock.com
> E-mail (Preferred): requests@muckrock.com
> Upload documents directly:
> https://accounts.muckrock.com/accounts/login/?url_auth_token=AABCyG3J3sQQaoiP8tp7w59ztqA%3A1hndHG%3Ad4OpbAmrtyro7VKRKH7-WqhQAz0&next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.muckrock.com%2Faccounts%2Flogin%2F%3Fnext%3D%252Faccounts%252Fagency_login%252Foffice-of-the-city-manager-14930%252Fpublic-contracts-office-of-the-city-manager-57850%252F%253Femail%253Dnova.romero%252540hollister.ca.gov
> Is this email coming to the wrong contact? Something else wrong? Use the
> above link to let us know.
>
> For mailed responses, please address (see note):
> MuckRock News
> DEPT MR 57850
> 411A Highland Ave
> Somerville, MA 02144-2516
>
> PLEASE NOTE: This request is not filed by a MuckRock staff member, but is
> being sent through MuckRock by the above in order to better track, share,
> and manage public records requests. Also note that improperly addressed
> (i.e., with the requester's name rather than "MuckRock News" and the
> department number) requests might be returned as undeliverable.
>
> ---
>
> On July 12, 2019:
> Subject: PRA Request for City of Hollister Contracts and Agreements
> RE: PRA request to the City of Hollister for Contracts, Agreements, etc.
> going back 3 years - Received on 7/1/2019
>
> Dear Mr. Rubins:
>
> Thank you for your prior request to the City of Hollister under the
> California Public Records Act, as well as your subsequent communication.
>
> The documentation you are requesting is voluminous and the City of
> Hollister's response will require extensive coordination and review by
> multiple departments. At this time I estimate the cost of the response to
> be between $6.00 to $10.00. If all the documents will fit onto one flash
> drive, the cost will be $6.00 for the flash drive plus shipping costs. It
> appears that we should be able to provide a response by September 12, 2019.
> If we are able to provide a response sooner, the City certainly will do so.
>
> We have previously attempted to narrow the scope of your request in order
> to provide a thorough response earlier than the current estimated timeline.
> I assume, however, that you have narrowed the scope of your request to the
> extent you believe possible. If you are able to narrow it further then
> please do not hesitate to contact me.
>
> Sincerely,
>
> Nova Romero, CMC
> Deputy City Clerk
> 375 Fifth Street, Hollister, CA 95023
> (831) 636-4300 x16
> Nova.romero@hollister.ca.gov<mailto:Nova.romero@hollister.ca.gov>
> Hollister.ca.gov
>
> Your vote matters! Register to vote here<https://registertovote.ca.gov/>
>
> ---
>
> On July 1, 2019:
> Subject: RE: California Public Records Act Request: Public Contracts
> (Office Of The City Manager)
> Ms. Black,
> Thanks for your response. We are only looking at the last three years, but
> if two years is all that is available under the records retention schedule,
> we would be happy to take that. I should also mention that we have revised
> our standard language for clarity and to help ease the workload on cities.
> Please see below:
>
> Pursuant to the California Public Records Act, I hereby request the
> following records:
> - All contracts, including memoranda of understanding (MOUs), letters of
> intent (LOIs), side letters, or other agreements that are currently active,
> or were active within the last three years. Please include attachments,
> addendums, amendments, and change orders.
> - Records of contract approvals by employees or public official.
> - Policies and procedures for contract administration, including
> delegation or approval thresholds.
> - Any process narratives or audit reports regarding contract
> administration.
> - The current records retention schedule.
>
> I am happy to discuss how we can make the fulfillment of this request
> easier for your agency, like extending the timeline or monthly production
> schedule.
>
> Information that has helped other agencies fully respond:
> - A link will suffice if records are already published online, for
> example, sometimes full contracts are published in meeting agendas or
> packets. In this case, we could simply use a link to the main agenda
> webpage.
> - Documents need not be organized together or linked in any way, as long
> as sufficient identifying information is available. For example, it is
> common for contracts to be stored in a contract or document management
> system while change order approvals may be housed in another system. Change
> orders may not even have an associated document, just an approval record in
> some database. In this case, we could work with an excel file, CSV, or
> other data dumps of change order approvals and a data dictionary, in
> addition to the contract document.
> - If the active dates of contracts are not readily available, the
> execution date, internal approval date, or other date is likely sufficient.
> - Please deliver the files in whatever method is most convenient for your
> office. We have received mail with a USB drive (which we happily pay for),
> CDs, or DVDs. We have received sharing links to online storage services
> (Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, etc.), public records
> portals, FTP credentials, and emails with individual files or compressed
> attachments. The upload link at the bottom of this email is also available.
>
> What are we doing and why?
> Legal Robot uses machine learning to understand contracts. As part of the
> AI Ethics Initiative (which funds this work), we are sourcing contracts
> from many public agencies across the US to support investigative journalism
> and improve the negotiating position of public agencies. All materials will
> be made available to the public, for free. As this effort is completed in
> the public interest, the compiled data will also be available to your
> agency, for free.
> ---
>
> On July 1, 2019:
> Subject: RE: California Public Records Act Request: Public Contracts
> (Office Of The City Manager)
> Dear Mr. Rubins:
>
> Thank you for your request for documents under the California Public
> Records Act. However, as phrased, the request is unlimited by time and will
> require the production of thousands of pages of documents. Would you
> consider limiting your request to only those contracts entered into within
> the last two years? If there are other ways in which you can limit your
> request, that would greatly help the City in determining which documents
> are responsive to your needs. I am willing to work with you to achieve the
> goal of producing the documents you need. After we have a clearer idea of
> exactly what documents you seek, I will be in a better position to advise
> you of both the expense and time required to produce responsive
> documentation.
>
> Thank you,
>
> Christine Black, MMC, City Clerk
> City of Hollister, 375 Fifth Street, Hollister, CA 95023
> 831-636-4300 x 17
> 831-636-4310 Fax
> christine.black@hollister.ca.gov<mailto:christine.black@hollister.ca.gov>
>
> [CityHollisterWebLogo_trans_EmailImage]
>
> http://hollister.ca.gov/
>
> E-mail correspondence with the City of Hollister (and attachments, if any)
> may be subject to the California Public Records Act, and as such may
> therefore be subject to public disclosure unless otherwise exempt under the
> act. Note: Using the “Reply All” option may inadvertently result in a Brown
> Act violation.
> ☺ Please Register to VOTE! https://registertovote.ca.gov/
>
> ---
>
> On July 1, 2019:
> Subject: RE: California Public Records Act Request: Public Contracts
> (Office Of The City Manager)
> Dear Mr. Rubins:
>
> Thank you for your request for documents under the California Public
> Records Act. However, as phrased, the request is unlimited by time and will
> require the production of thousands of pages of documents. Would you
> consider limiting your request to only those contracts entered into within
> the last two years? If there are other ways in which you can limit your
> request, that would greatly help the City in determining which documents
> are responsive to your needs. I am willing to work with you to achieve the
> goal of producing the documents you need. After we have a clearer idea of
> exactly what documents you seek, I will be in a better position to advise
> you of both the expense and time required to produce responsive
> documentation.
>
> Thank you,
>
> Christine Black, MMC, City Clerk
> City of Hollister, 375 Fifth Street, Hollister, CA 95023
> 831-636-4300 x 17
> 831-636-4310 Fax
> christine.black@hollister.ca.gov<mailto:christine.black@hollister.ca.gov>
>
> [CityHollisterWebLogo_trans_EmailImage]
>
> http://hollister.ca.gov/
>
> E-mail correspondence with the City of Hollister (and attachments, if any)
> may be subject to the California Public Records Act, and as such may
> therefore be subject to public disclosure unless otherwise exempt under the
> act. Note: Using the “Reply All” option may inadvertently result in a Brown
> Act violation.
> ☺ Please Register to VOTE! https://registertovote.ca.gov/
>
> ---
>
> On June 17, 2019:
> Subject: RE: California Public Records Act Request: Public Contracts
> (Office Of The City Manager)
> To whom it may concern:
>
> The California Public Records Act (Cal. Gov’t Code § 6253(c)) specifically
> requires that an agency provide a response to a public records request
> within ten business days of receipt of that request. I submitted this
> request 11 months ago.
>
> By failing to respond to this request within the legally-mandated
> timeframe, this agency is in violation of the law.
>
> Please provide acknowledgment of this request and the responsive materials
> forthwith. If such materials cannot be produced, please provide an
> appropriate explanation for this rejection, as is dictated by this agency's
> legal obligations under the California Public Records Act. Your accelerated
> attention to this matter will be greatly appreciated.
> ---
>
> On July 11, 2018:
> Subject: California Public Records Act Request: Public Contracts (Office
> Of The City Manager)
> To Whom It May Concern:
>
> I. Background Information
>
> Contract administration is frequently a source of concerning behavior in
> the public sector. For example:
> - In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, a company with only two employees
> (Whitefish Energy) was hired hired by PREPA, Puerto Rico's public utility
> company, to restore power to the island at a cost of $300M. The contract
> had audit-proofing clauses and left little recourse for PREPA due to
> nonperformance. After 8 months, Puerto Rico did not have power fully
> restored and now Congressional and FBI investigations are pending.
> - During an internal audit of the City of San Diego's contracting
> practices, the contract with office products supplier Staples was found to
> exceed the City Council's approved $2M annual threshold by a full $1M.
> Auditors found found insufficient financial controls and produced a further
> 60 pages of recommendations.
> - The US Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) found sustained exceptions
> for incurred costs audits 28.6% of the time in its 2017 Report to Congress.
> - From 2010 to 2013, a Maryland Transit Authority employee allegedly used
> poor contracting oversight to siphon $6.3M from the state coffers.
> - The City of Vallejo, CA was recently the victim of an alleged
> contracting kickback scheme run by the city's landscape maintenance
> manager, only uncovered in an FBI investigation. The kickback scheme
> occurred only a few years after the city was in Chapter 9 bankruptcy
> because of ballooning contractual obligations.
> - In recent years, officials in the southern California cities of Bell,
> Irwindale, La Puente, Monterey Park, Pico Rivera, Temple City, and Vernon
> have been brought up on various public corruption charges.
>
> While the vast majority of public contracting is done with integrity, bad
> actors and a lack of public knowledge have a disproportionate effect on the
> fiscal wellbeing and public trust of every level of government.
>
> II. Requested Records
>
> Pursuant to the { law }, I hereby request the following records:
>
> 1. Any and all executed contracts, memorandums of understanding (MOUs),
> and other equivalent agreements that are currently active, or were active
> within the last two years, other than standard employee agreements. Please
> provide a copy of the executed document as well as any addenda, amendments,
> attachments, exhibits, materials, and schedules.
>
> 2. Any and all contract template documents, for example, employee
> agreements, vendor agreements, master services agreements, nondisclosure
> agreements, or interagency cooperation contracts.
>
> 3. General policies and procedures for contract administration, including
> training materials and records used to instruct members of your agency in
> contract administration.
>
> 4. Any available process narratives, audit reports, or findings regarding
> contract administration covering the last two years.
>
> I am happy to discuss any issues or suggestions to make fulfillment more
> manageable for your office.
>
> III. Fees
>
> If there are any fees for searching or copying these records, please
> inform me in advance of fulfilling the request.
>
> I would also like to request a waiver of all fees in that the disclosure
> of the requested information is in the public interest and will contribute
> significantly to the public's understanding of how governments manage
> public money and the obligations to which they are entrusted.
>
> Neither I, nor my company (Legal Robot), has any commercial interest in
> obtaining the requested information. Rather, we intend to use software to
> analyze and disseminate the requested information free of charge so that
> the public may identify patterns of bad behavior that, when eliminated,
> will benefit governments and the public alike.
>
> We plan to enrich and cross-link the information we receive from multiple
> jurisdictions, and provide an exploratory interface for the public on the
> internet, for free. Because we consider this work to be Data Journalism,
> and we further expect to provide our analysis to other media organizations
> for additional print and online publication, I ask to be categorized as a
> representative of the news media. Upon request, I am happy to provide our
> analysis and any articles we write based on our analysis in advance of
> publication, though I cannot speak for other media outlets.
>
> Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I
> look forward to receiving your response to this request within 10 calendar
> days, as the statute requires.
>
> Sincerely,
>
> Dan Rubins
>
> Filed via MuckRock.com
> E-mail (Preferred): requests@muckrock.com
> Upload documents directly:
> https://accounts.muckrock.com/accounts/login/?url_auth_token=AABCyG3J3sQQaoiP8tp7w59ztqA%3A1hndHG%3Ad4OpbAmrtyro7VKRKH7-WqhQAz0&next=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.muckrock.com%2Faccounts%2Flogin%2F%3Fnext%3D%252Faccounts%252Fagency_login%252Foffice-of-the-city-manager-14930%252Fpublic-contracts-office-of-the-city-manager-57850%252F%253Femail%253Dnova.romero%252540hollister.ca.gov
> Is this email coming to the wrong contact? Something else wrong? Use the
> above link to let us know.
>
> For mailed responses, please address (see note):
> MuckRock News
> DEPT MR 57850
> 411A Highland Ave
> Somerville, MA 02144-2516
>
> PLEASE NOTE: This request is not filed by a MuckRock staff member, but is
> being sent through MuckRock by the above in order to better track, share,
> and manage public records requests. Also note that improperly addressed
> (i.e., with the requester's name rather than "MuckRock News" and the
> department number) requests might be returned as undeliverable.
>
>

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