OPRA #6 (2013) Planters - (response at the bottom in bold and italic)

In connection with some photos which are "making the rounds" in social media and which are attached to this email, this is a request for public information under the Open Public Records Act.

Please provide a copy of the Work Order pursuant to which planter(s) were removed from city streets to what appears to be a remote location somewhere near the water in Ventnor West.

Please provide a copy of the invoices pursuant to which the city paid for the planters.

Please provide a copy of the invoices pursuant to which the city paid for the trees and/or shrubs placed in street-scaping planters.

Please provide public records indicating which Public Works employees were assigned work details to carry out this task.

It is Requestor's informal information that PW employee [name redacted, but supplied in the original OPRA] may have been a member of that work detail. What is not known is whether the "work" was fully authorized, whether it involved the use of city equipment (e.g., forklift), and what might have been the policy decision underlying an activity which found heavy planters being removed to such a remote location.

Thank you for your timely attention to this request.

Supplemental Request:

Thank you for forwarding Commissioner Kelly's responses.

In surveying the social media, I found two more photos of what appear to be the planter/tree in question.

Of interest is the one posted at a date of October 2012, because it is accompanied by the remark that the planter and its tree were moved in Spring/Summer 2012. The planter was in front of Alba's boutique. There was street work going on at the time. Therefore, in light of the photos, the October through March dates of absence of the Ventnor PW employee whose name has been associated via "rumor" with this activity would seem to be devoid of any relevance.

Also, there are Ventnor residents with photos of yet another planter which was moved at another date to another stretch of the "wilder shore" of the ICW, across from the sewage pumping operation.

The weight of the planters would seem to require heavy equipment for their removal. If city workers using city equipment were involved, it seems an odd expenditure of taxpayer dollars on the necessary time (labor $$$), depreciation (equipment $$$) required. It also raises questions about how the work force accounts for its time, other than punching in a time clock at the bracketing ends of a shift.

One can take old photos and post them at some later date on Facebook. (Which might be what happened with an old photo showing a green tree which didn't get posted until some later date.) But one cannot take a new photo and post it to an old part of the Facebook timeline. Therefore a photo showing a browned-out tree and posted on October 20, 2012 suggests that the tree had had quite some time in its remote location to go unwatered and to die.

A photo of a green tree with people around it was posted on January 15, 2013; but given the time of that posting (winter) and what is depicted (spring or summer and a green tree with people around it, engaged in activity near the water), there would have been some gap of time between the photograph being taken and the photo being posted. But it is attached because it allows for more precise locators of where the planter was hauled.

This follow-up to the earlier OPRA #6 requests more complete information about what happened and/or an investigation that better reveals what happened.

Accordingly, the department heads and the Commissioner to whom they report are getting a "cc" of the OPRA.

Thanks to all for your further attention to a matter which has not escaped the attention of Ventnor residents who paid for the planters, who contributed to their beautification, and whose taxes pay for the operations of the Public Works department.

City's Response:

Attached please find responses from Commissioner Kelly and CFO Abodern relating to your OPRA #6.