Saturday, March 28, 2015

Foster County ND "HIGH"-LIGHTS: Repairing the Very Top of the Courthouse Dome

We need to thank Foster County's new custodian, Russ Heidt, for discovering some serious damage that needed to be repaired at the very top of our Courthouse dome.  The large gold sphere had a hole in its top big enough for pigeons to enter and nest in the actual dome-area below it.  In fact, before repairing the dome, Russ spent the previous week cleaning out many years' worth of pigeon droppings and dead/decomposing pigeon bodies, and accessing the amount of water/dry-rot damage to the interior.

In the video, you will see Russ at the top of the courthouse where he waited to help direct Leo Straley in making repairs to the sphere.  Down below, you can see Leo giving Scherbenske's crane operator some last-minute directions before climbing into the basket for his upward trip. 
By the way, not just any person would attempt such an acrobatic repair at such impressive heights!   Not only was Leo willing to hang above the Courthouse dome, but he also possessed all the intricate skills necessary to do an excellent job. 

In case you don't know, Leo is a very exceptional, experienced metal-fabricator who owns a local standing-seam metal roofing business.  When asked if he had done any other jobs comparable to this one... which seemed terribly precarious to onlookers... Leo said with a smile that he had actually  worked on a very tall church steeple where he "feared for his life."  Compared to that, this job he said "was a cinch."  He actually enjoyed it!

At the end of the video, you will see our Foster County Commission chairman, Bill Bauer, walking over to congratulate Leo on a successful trip and confer with him about his findings.  Other onlookers waited to say hi to Leo and ask about his experience at the top of the Courthouse.  One onlooker in particular had a big smile on his face... Leo's dad.  He had watched the whole event from beginning to end, and  from the expression on his face, you could tell that he was very proud of his son. 
 
So, here's a big THANK YOU, to Russ Heidt for discovering the damage and cleaning up the Courthouse dome... to Leo Straley for braving the elements to repair the hole at the top of the world... and to Bill Bauer and the Foster County Commission for being good caretakers of our beautiful Courthouse... so the community can enjoy it for many, many years to come.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Another Taxpayer Ripoff Discovered in Foster County, ND


Another Taxpayer Ripoff Discovered in Foster County, ND

During the Foster County Commission Meeting on Tuesday, March 17, 2015, Ted Keller asked questions about the 3% pay increase that county employees and officers received on January 1, 2015. His questions were based on payroll reports that all employees got a 3% increase with one exception - that being Foster County Treasurer, Noreen Barton.

It appeared on the surface that Ms. Barton had received a 10% increase. When the commissioners were questioned, no one had an explanation for the discrepancy, so they requested Ms. Barton to join the meeting.

When Ms. Barton was asked for an explanation as to why she received a 10% increase in pay, she answered by stating that she had assumed a "new" additional position from the County. According to her, she had assumed the position of Risk Management, and former officials Straley/Risovi/Greger had penciled in $3,000 for this position in the 2015 budget.

It's interesting to note that up until this time, there was no such position budgeted because it had always been part of the Auditor's office and duties. It is simply the job of making sure that insurance gets paid and proper payroll reports are made to WSI. This responsibility was part of the Auditor's job and covered by her regular salary.

How convenient that Straley/Risovi were able to pad one of their friend's payroll for such a nice sum of $3,000, a job which previously cost the taxpayers nothing.

Along with the missing $5,500 Game & Fish money, what other unethical, perhaps corrupt, actions will the present Foster County Commission find as they continue to investigate what took place during the past Straley/Risovi administration?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Avery Gets a Bath at Pampered Paws



It was fun taking Avery to Pampered Paws to get a bath.  Katie Geske, who runs the business, obviously likes her furry clients and does a good job of caring for them!  

Katie had quite a few critters in her care... for different reasons.  There were several waiting to be groomed, some were being cared for while their parents were on vacation,  and some like Avery needed a bath and nails clipped.

I stayed for a while and watched Katie do some hair-clipping.  The pup she was grooming at the time seemed very happy with what she was doing and actually stretched at different times so Katie could get better access to all his parts.

Since this was Avery's first time to a groomer, he was a little concerned about getting up into the bath area.  He objected fairly strongly at first and turned into a 110 pound slippery eel, but Katie was insistant, and her experience won out.  Once Avery was in the tub, he accepted his fate and became very docile while Katie ran warm water over his back.  That was when I left.  When my husband and I returned about two hours later, Avery was prancing around with some of the other pups looking very sleek, shiny and happy.

While I was at Katie's shop, I had the pleasure of meeting Anne Geske, Katie's grandmother.  She came in for a moment to see which dogs wanted to walk with her to the mailbox which was located about a half mile away at the end of their driveway.  Katie said that her grandmother liked to walk to the mailbox on pretty days, and the dogs loved to follow her.  At this point about six dogs happily took off after Anne, obviously looking forward to the walk.

If anyone asks my husband or me about our experience with Pampered Paws, we would both give Katie a big 5 stars.  Our community is lucky to have such an exceptional person to help us take care of our furry family members.  Thank you, Katie, for putting so much effort and energy into your much-appreciated service!




Monday, March 23, 2015

Deuces Wild (Dueling Pianos) Performs at CrossRoads



Saturday night at CrossRoads was LOADS of FUN! The entertainers, Deuces Wild (Dueling Pianos) had the crowd going wild from the moment they started their show till the very end. Right now I want to apologize profusely to anyone who was there who may not like the pictures I took! But please, I'm praying you have a sense of humor when you see yourself in a variety of rather abnormal positions with all kinds of interesting expressions on your faces. I mean, there are laughing faces, scrunched up faces, puzzled faces, hiding faces, frowning faces, mischievous faces, hysterical faces, maniacal faces, inebriated faces... all kinds of WONDERFUL faces having a good time. I really did try to sort through and pick out a few photos to represent the night's entertainment, but in the end I published all of them but the blurry ones. I hope you find a picture you like... one that makes you smile.

Personally speaking, I really enjoyed all the fun and laughter last night and watching everyone have a good time. The thing that impressed me most though, was when everyone just spontaneously stood up and gave Dolly Footitt a big round of applause when she was introduced. Deuces Wild was trying to think of a song to play for her era, gave up and settled on "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," which was written in 1939. For those of you who don't know, Dolly was born in 1914, so you can understand why they had a problem thinking of a special song written during her first decade here on Earth. What the guys didn't know, though, and what was so perfect about their choice, was that it was the special song that was played at her daughter Joanne's memorial service this last year. When I was driving Dolly home later, that was the first thing she wanted to talk about, about how surprised and pleased she was that they chose that song to play for her. As far as I'm concerned, I wouldn't be surprised if Joanne didn't have a hand in it... 

As someone who bought a ticket for the show, I just want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who made Saturday night such a big success. Not only were the entertainers, Dave Elchholz and Ted Manderfield, absolutely amazing, but there were so many local people who contributed to the festivities. The CrossRoads board and Sue Fangman, the manager, chose well when they selected the entertainment. Brenda Gorseth from Woodward Farm and her crew did a great job of catering the event. They even had excellent help from local high school students who are members of the CHS Golf Club. Thanks to them, the meals were served quickly to approximately 200 people. Quite an effort on everyone's part! And, last but definitely not least, I want to applaud all the people in the audience who didn't hesitate to get up front and become part of the entertainment. You were funny and crazy and talented, and your sheer enjoyment of being there was absolutely contagious.

Congratulations to all of you who participated in helping CrossRoads become an even more exceptional golf course that can be enjoyed, not only by our whole community, but by visitors from all over the state and country.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Concerns about Doctors Leaving Carrington Health Center


I've received several messages this afternoon, March 7, 2015, regarding the recent resignation of doctors at Carrington Health Center. 

In case you haven't heard, The Independent announced today that Dr. Page has also resigned from the hospital staff. As you know, Dr. Schaffer had turned in his resignation a few months earlier.

It sounds like there may be a community rally in order to address this situation. I will let you know any information as I get it. In the meantime, here is one of the messages that I received today:

"I am sending you the following info: For people to call this # and demand answers why CHI cannot keep our doctors. Michael Romano National Director, Media Relations Catholic Health Initiatives 303-383-2720 (c) 303-549-8948 michaelromano@catholichealth.net

Also, contacting the Board of Directors at the Health Center might be a good way to start getting facts about the situation.

Carrington Health Center’s Board of Directors 
Board Chair - Michael Murphy
Board Members:
Scott Buchholtz
Sister Sharon Altendorf
Doug Harildstad
Jeff Pepple
Lori Solberg
Dr. Kathy Hendrickson
Renee Riedesel

Carrington Health Center
800 4th St N- PO Box 461-Carrington, ND 58421
(701) 652-3141 or (800) 532-8623

Whether you want to act on this information is up to you. Just know that I would like to help in any way I can to keep our hospital thriving. It's such an important asset to our community! 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Message to CarringtonNews.Com Facebook Followers


Sincere thanks to every one of you who participated in CarringtonNews.com on Facebook this past year.  At the beginning of 2014, we had around 300 followers; now, thanks to your participation, we have over 2200.  This means that every time you post something on CarringtonNews.com, your message goes to over 2200 people.  

For those of you who like statistics, Facebook tells me that 363 of you are from Carrington, 215 from Fargo, 207 from Bismarck, 167 from Jamestown, 75 from New Rockford, 77 from Minot, 43 from Devils Lake, 36 from Valley City, 36 from Williston, 28 from Sykeston, 24 from Fessenden, 19 from Harvey, 18 from Glenfield, 16 from Bowdon, 13 from Grace City... and many others in between. When I consider the small populations of some of these towns, I'm very happy to welcome such a large number of followers.

Local folks might be surprised at how many people from other states tune in to CarringtonNews.com.  Many of them have connections with Carrington/Foster County in the past, having been born here, gone to school here, or lived here at some time.  The states most represented are Minnesota, Arizona, Texas, Colorado, Washington, Florida, and Tennessee. Thanks to each one of you who have visited my site, particularly to those of you who come back again and again and take the time to comment. I especially enjoy your information about Carrington's past.  

As far as countries represented, CarringtonNews.com has followers from Canada, England, South Africa, Italy, Germany, Colombia, Uruguay, Norway, Mexico, Australia, India, Indonesia, Cambodia, France, and Turkey...many of whom are probably relatives/friends of local people.  I have no idea how some of you from so far away found us, but WELCOME! It has been especially interesting when I've used a translation app in order to communicate with a couple of you.  Fascinating and fun!

At the beginning of the 2014 year, most of our followers were women, and percentage-wise that is still true.  However, when we started including more politically oriented posts and videos, the percentage of men-followers started rising, and has actually doubled since March of last year.  

When we first started writing commentaries about our local county government in March, 2014, I was concerned that CarringtonNews.com would become less popular.  In fact, I apologized to viewers at that time and asked them to just skip the political commentary/videos at the top of our timeline and go on to the regular guide to Carrington and the surrounding areas.  However, judging from the 1800 new followers, it seems that people like having a place to comment on local government issues.  In fact, articles and videos relating to our local Foster County government usually get the most views and feedback from viewers.

Other than local government issues, when it comes to the popularity of posts that have been published on CarringtonNews.com, the ones which normally get the most views are heartfelt stories about people in need or people who have accomplished something special.  The post that overwhelmingly got the most views in a short time (over 100,000!) was an appeal to support the local Kulsrud family in their effort to get the FDA to approve the use of a special medicine to treat their children.  As viewers, you are big-hearted and generous when it comes to helping people, and that shows up by the way you view those kinds of posts.

Also, I love the fact that so many of you like the posts about animals...animals that are just so cute that I can't resist sharing their pictures/shenandigans... as well as animals that are in distress and need rescuing.  Those of you who follow this site closely know that I have a special committment to help homeless animals find their forever homes.  As you also know, I've recently become enamored with the wild horses who live in or come from Theordore Roosevelt National Park, and I notice that many of you like their pictures, too.

Posts about local people in our community are very popular among viewers on CarringtonNews.com - both happy and sad.  Most of you want to know the news/details about both kinds of situations.  You send lots of supportive thoughts and prayers out to people in sad situations and lots of congratulations go out for happy occasions. For instance, Dolly Footitt's 100th birthday announcement got over 8,000 hits! 

Posts about farmers, firemen, police officers, and sports events get lots of views.  If I put up a picture of a local farm or a local firetruck, the numbers rise quickly.  When our local bank was robbed, I think every viewer shared the post with every friend which equaled thousands of hits.  And, I can pretty much bet than any post about NDSU or UND will get at least 500+ hits quickly!

Of course, the weather in North Dakota is always a popular topic.  Almost every weather posting gets several hundred hits, and an extreme weather report can get up to 1000 views almost immediately.  I'm sure that doesn't surprise any of you who live in North Dakota since most of our economy, livelihood, social events, and general plans depend on the weather.  

Lastly, I just want to remind you that if you have a special announcement, event, occasion or any kind of news (either social or business-wise) that you would like the local community to know about, please post it on my timeline, and I'll publish it as soon as possible. Also, please remember that I'm not on here 24/7.  I do sleep, take breaks, work for my husband (and me), cook (a little), visit with friends, go shopping, and actually take a vacation once in a while.

In conclusion, please remember that even though this site is called Carrington "News," it is actually my own personal blog and subject to my own personal likes and views.  If you want the official news from Carrington's offical newspaper, you can subscribe to the Foster County Independent which is published once a week and available online for $32 a year.  (I recommend it because Erik Gjovik's local sports coverage and impressive photography is worth much more than that!)

Now, if you've read all the way to the end of this long report, you're quite a trooper!  I hope you continue tuning in and hopefully contribute your ideas as you see fit.

Most sincerely,  Judy Keller

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Thanks to DakTel for Televising Foster County Commission Meetings

Notice DakTel's camera running steadily in the background.

I was just looking at an ad on FaceBook recommending DakTel's business services.  The following is a quote from the ad:

 "It's time to get busy with business network solutions from DCT. Whether you need data, voice, video, security or other services for your business, we have the technology you need to make your business run smoothly! So go ahead and get busy, and we'll make sure you can keep working it as effectively and efficiently as possible!"

When my husband and I first moved to Carrington around 10 years ago and opened a call center for our business, we were impressed with DakTel's service, even that many years ago.  They were intent on being a "state of the art" telecommunications service, and as far as I'm concerned, they accomplished their goal.  Having just moved from California, and not that far from the Silicon Valley, we were used to the latest Internet technology being created there.  We were not only happy with the quality of DakTel's service and support, but we were thrilled with the speed of the Internet connection.  It was actually faster than our service in California!

Over the years, in addition to DakTel's excellent business service, I've come to  appreciate their other services to our community... in particular the fact that they record and televise many community meetings so we can see what's happening in our local government.  In fact, it was one of DakTel's televised Foster County Commission meetings on March 4, 2014, that spurred me into writing critical articles about the way the meetings were being run.  I was appalled at the way Commission Chairman Paul Straley was yelling at community members, not allowing them to speak, and having them escorted from the meeting by Sheriff Tufte if he didn't like their input.

Later, it was due to DakTel's televised videos that my husband and I were able to defend ourselves against restraining orders brought against us by Foster County's Ex-Auditor Teresa Risovi. I suppose she didn't like the negative attention that my blogs were directing toward Straley and her, so this was her unethical way to shut us up.  During the Court hearing, DakTel's videos showed that she lied under oath in order to get restraining orders against us, and the judge dismissed both cases.  Her lies couldn't stand up against the visual truth shown by the videos.

To this day, I wonder why Ms. Risovi has never been criminally charged for those - and other actions - that were exposed on DakTel's videos. For example, where is the missing Game and Fish money that she was in charge of collecting?  A large portion of one DakTel video was dedicated to Hope Carr's investigation of the Game and Fish situation.  Her findings pointed out that Ms. Risovi was suspect - that Carr thought the auditor was responsible for those, and perhaps other missing records.  Chairman Straley had Carr ejected from that meeting by a deputy sheriff, saying that they had turned the matter over to the BCI and couldn't talk about it.  Interestingly enough, I have my own video of Heather Martin, the Assistant Auditor at that time, stating that they had NOT turned the matter over to the BCI.  Will the Foster County taxpayers ever know the truth of this matter?

Week after week, as the new officers take over, it seems that more and more irregularities are being exposed which took place during the Straley/Risovi administration. Is the community supposed to overlook the transgressions of the past, and just "let things go," as some suggest?   Or, should corrupt officials and employees be held accountable for their actions even though they have resigned from their positions?

Hopefully, DakTel will continue to record and televise our Foster County Commission meetings. Their videos are an outstanding source of information for our community. As well, it's impressive to actually see the immense change that has taken place in the quality and efficiency of our commission meetings. A big THANKS to our new administration, Chairman Bill Bauer, Jim Carr, Pat Copenhaver and Auditor Casey Cables, as well as to everyone who is supporting them in their mission to serve Foster County well.

As far as DakTel is concerned, thanks again for keeping those cameras running!

Monday, February 16, 2015

A New Broom Sweeps Clean - Commission Chairman Bill Bauer


Everyone's heard the old saying that "a new broom sweeps clean."  The new broom in Foster County is Commission Chairman Bill Bauer.

The media has portrayed recent resignations of county employees as an abnormality.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Very often when leadership in politics or a business changes, many of their employees/followers drop out and change as well. It is understandable that when reform takes place, there will be employees who won't want to be a part of the new system for various reasons.

It has been reported  that under the regime of Chairman Paul Straley that certain employees were allowed to set their own hours and sometimes even failed to show up for work and still be paid.  It has also been reported that in one case an employee was able to pretend that he/she was at work while running another business elsewhere. Apparently it was an unwritten procedure to allow certain employees to take time off while being paid as if they were there. We are beginning to wonder what other improprieties will be discovered as time goes on.  It is suspected that this may be the reason for some of the resignations.

Interestingly enough, many past records regarding employee payroll are missing... right along with the missing records and money from Game and Fish.  One wonders what other important documents/records may turn up missing!

The simple fact remains that the voters of Foster County made their voices heard by an overwhelming majority in November's election.  The message the voters gave was that they wanted Bill Bauer to take that broom and sweep out the mess at the Courthouse... which he is doing.

With supportive help from Commissioners Jim Carr and Pat Copenhaver, we hope Bill Bauer will continue to examine and oversee the business of Foster County and sweep the wasteful abuses of the past out the door.

Settlement for Abuse of Process - Kellers vs. Risovi


At a recent press conference by State's Attorney Paul Murphy a question arose about a settlement which my husband and I entered into in a case entitled Ted and Judy Keller vs. Teresa Risovi.

As many of you know, former appointed/defeated Auditor Teresa Risovi filed and obtained temporary restraining orders against us.  She did not like the comments made by us at various commission meetings about her incompetence, our requests for public records, and articles written by us on this and other websites.  She lied under oath to a judge in order to get these petitions approved.

According to Risovi's testimony at the hearing about this case, she was able to get these frivolous restraining orders through the direct assistance of now-resigned Ex-Sheriff Mike Tufte, Clerk of Court Tamara Becker, and Deputy Sheriff Danielle Rosewaren.  

These applications for temporary restraining orders contained numerous perjurous statements (lies) without which they would not have been granted.  While the restraining orders were in effect - for over three weeks - my husband and I were restricted in the freedom of our movement and were under the threat of being arrested and fined.

At the hearing, it was clear to the judge that our comments/actions regarding Teresa Risovi were constitutionally protected.  He dismissed the cases after listening to testimony and viewing video tapes which showed she lied about us.

After Risovi filed these unethical petitions, my husband and I filed a complaint against her in the district court for "abuse of process."  At no point in time did we include the County of Foster in the court action.  We wanted to hold Risovi personally responsible for her unethical actions

Little did we know at the time that there was an insurance provision for the county that affords unlimited legal defense for county employees if the action involves anything remotely associated with the performance of their duties.

We only discovered this when S.A. Paul Murphy appointed Scott Porsborg as Assistant State's Attorney, solely to defend Risovi against this action.  In other words, Risovi's bad acts against us were rewarded by an unlimited defense fund paid for by Foster County tax payers and county insurance.  Risovi was not being held personally accountable for her unethical actions at all.

At numerous times during this action, we offered to dismiss any potential claims against Foster County in exchange for the County withdrawing their unfettered defense of Risovi. According to Attorney Porsborg, the insurance agreement would not allow this withdrawal from the case.

After the November election, when Risovi was removed from office by the taxpayers/voters, we no longer felt compelled to continue with the action and came to an agreement to settle the case against Risovi for $8,000.  We decided not to continue on to Federal Court and get a much larger settlement. After all, our original intent was to hold Risovi accountable for her bad actions against us, not to punish Foster County.

The settlement of this case brings to a close this sad chapter in Foster County politics by Paul Straley, Teresa Risovi and their courthouse cronies.  However, in the future the community should not be surprised to hear that other law suits, both civil and/or criminal, may be filed against Straley, Risovi and others who supported them in other questionable actions.

Lastly, we think Foster County  should look into changing the insurance clause that allows an unethical county official/employee to be defended at taxpayers' expense.  Why should we, as taxpayers, be forced to pay for the legal defense of a vindictive individual, such as Teresa Risovi, who intentionally acts unethically on her own volition?

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

UPDATE on People vs. Carr and People vs. Schlotman - Questions for/about Prosecutor Kathleen Murray

Kathleen Murray at March 18, 2014, Foster County Commission Meeting
The case of the People vs James Carr and Roger Schlotman has yet to be set for trial.  The question that begs answering is.. WHY? ...since this case was filed against them in October of 2013...  almost 16 months ago.  What is the reason for the delay?

Since the time it was filed, there was a preliminary hearing that resulted in two of the misdemeanor charges against Jim Carr being dropped by the Court. Shortly after that, the November primary election occurred in which Jim Carr was handily re-elected as Foster County commissioner in a 2-1 margin.

Since that time, the special prosecutor, Ms. Kathleen Murray has filed two motions.  One motion was to consolidate the two cases into one, and the other one was to change the trial venue to another county.  Both of these motions, after the hearing by Presiding Judge Narum, were denied.

Why has this case taken so long to bring to trial?  One only needs to look at the special prosecutor, Kathleen Murray, for the answer.  The record of the procedings so far reflect a prosecuting attorney who obviously does not know what she's doing.  The record shows that all the motions for continuances, to delay the trial of these charges, have all been from Special State's Attorney Murray.

We're not sure if it's either incompetence on Ms. Murray's part... or that she just wants to delay and charge off as much money as possible against the taxpayers of Foster County.

Please understand that when a special prosecutor is appointed in a case like this, the appointed attorney is allowed to charge for her fees at her regular billable hours.   In other words, the more Ms. Murray delays, the more we're having to pay for the  prosecution of these cases.  

Obviously, we don't know what a jury will decide as to guilt or innocence of either defendant.  

We do know that if State's Attorney Murray didn't possess the evidence for a conviction against these parties when she filed the complaint against them and had them arrested, then she should NOT have done it.

Recently, we were curious as to how much of a bill Ms. Murray has racked up against Foster County.  Thus, we did a public records request to her for that information... that information being her total number of billable hours in this case so far and the hourly rate she intends to charge us for her efforts.

See copies of our correspondence below... requesting her total billable hours in these cases.

Judge for yourself, but it appears to us that the last thing she wants to do is disclose to the taxpayers of Foster County the money which she has wasted in her efforts that still have not gone anywhere.

Notice that in her reply to us, she sent copies to BCI Agent Lang and a local highway patrolman in Wells County. Is this a not-so-veiled threat to us that she can use law enforcement against us for requesting public records?   What does law enforcement have to do with making a public records request of Ms. Murray?

The question that still remains is ... How much money have these cases cost Foster County so far?

//////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

The following is the:
E-Mail Correspondence between Ted Keller and State's Attorney Kathleen Murray

From: ted@centralcityremodelers.com
Sent: Monday, February 02, 2015 6:42 AM
To: Murray, Kathleen K.
Cc: Paul Murphy
Subject: Public Records Request

Greetings:
This records request is regarding the billing to either Foster County or the State of North Dakota for the legal services by your firm in the criminal actions short titled, State of North Dakota verses James Carr and Roger Scholtman.
These records should include but not be limited to logs of all billable hours, copies of legal billing previously paid or not by any party, to the law office of Kathleen Murray regarding the aforementioned cases.
The records can be scanned as a pdf file and returned to my email or sent to the address below.
Awaiting your immediate response.
Ted Keller
511 1st Street N
Carrington, ND 58421
701 6507469

------------------------------------

Original Message --------
Subject: RE: Public Records Request
From: "Murray, Kathleen K."
Date: Mon, February 02, 2015 3:15 pm
To: "ted@centralcityremodelers.com"
Cc: Paul Murphy , BL433

Mr. Keller:

The State v. James Carr and State v. Roger Schlotman cases are still pending, and are still active and ongoing criminal investigations.
Pursuant to NDCC §44-04-18.7 Active Criminal Investigative information is not subject to an open records request.

There is not a bill to the State of North Dakota for the services and there will not be a bill sent to the State of North Dakota, and Foster County will not be billed for the BCI work on these matters.

I have not sent any bills to Foster County for the work on the cases.  There has not been any payment for work on these cases.
Any notes that I have are contained on notes as part of my attorney work product and part of the criminal investigation, and I do not have a log of all billable hours as a separate log and record.  Pursuant to NDCC§ 44-04-18(4) I am not required to create or compile a record that does not exist.

I am attaching a register of actions that is public record.  All of the legal documents filed by the State (by Assistant Foster County State’s Attorney on behalf of the State) are billable hours at $100 per hour, and while I do not generally charge for review of documents filed by the Defense, those are billable hours at $100 per hour to review the documents.  Also, all court appearances and travel for court appearances are billable hours at $100 per hour.  When I submit a billing statement to Foster County, after the matters are completed, then, you will be able to obtain a copy of the billing statement.  As criminal cases that are pending are active and ongoing and not public record, it has been the prior practice to submit a billing statement after the matter has been completed so that there is not a disclosure of information from a pending case.

Thank you.

Kathleen K. Murray
Wells County State’s Attorney
700 Railway Street N # 325
Fessenden, ND  58438
kmurray@nd.gov
phone (701) 547-3885
fax (701) 547-2536
Please note NO PO BOX and new email

-----------------------------

From: ted@centralcityremodelers.com [mailto:ted@centralcityremodelers.com]
Sent: Tuesday, February 03, 2015 11:56 AM
To: Murray, Kathleen K.
Cc: Paul Murphy
Subject: RE: Public Records Request

Ms. Murray:

Am I to understand that you do not keep a separate log for billable hours in the case at issue?  If that is so, then I will rephrase my request and state that I want all notes contemporaneous or otherwise regarding the instant case that involve your billable hours to these cases.

What you have stated is that you have encapulated your billable hours into your attorney work product and therefore the records are not subject to public disclosure.

As you should be aware, if a privileged record contains non-privileged information, the non-privileged  part of the information is a public record, thus available for inspection.

If I'm to understand correctly, what you did to avoid disclosure of your billing is  disperse it through confidential documents and attorney work product.  You still must provide the document requested after a redaction of the privileged and confidential material.

What other taxpayers and I have a right to know is how much time you have spent on these cases that you intend to bill us for.  Therefore, if you do not contact me regarding the records I've requested, I will be filing an action against YOU for them.

You, of all people -- a licensed, practicing attorney who alleges to represent the State of North Dakota -- should know what is or isn't a public record.  Perhaps you need instructions from the Court about that subject.

Lastly, if my memory serves me correct, in the Foster County Commission meeting of March 18, 2014, you were the learned counsel who provided the misinformation that citizens do not have the right to know what they are paying their public employees.  Remember that?

Ted Keller

---------------------------


Subject:
  RE: Public Records Request
 
From:
"Murray, Kathleen K." (Add as Preferred Sender)  
Date: Tue, Feb 03, 2015 2:03 pm
To: "ted@centralcityremodelers.com"
Cc: Paul Murphy , BL433 , "Williams, Jaci L." , "Barton, Noreen A." , "Martin, Heather R."

Mr. Keller:

In regards to your  last statement, I did not indicate that the public is not entitled to the amount that is paid to public employees.  I specifically stated that the public is not able to make an open records request for confidential information such amounts being withheld including flex spending, and net pay, and medical portions.   However, that is not really part of this formal request, and I do not believe it is necessary to go into those details.

If you insist that I immediately bill for all of my billable hours, then, I will create and an invoice and for bill all of my billable hours.
Generally, in the past, I have not billed for all of my billable hours, and I usually give a break and a credit for most of my time, and only bill for in-court time, and documents prepared. I sent you the Register of Actions to show the general items that I usually charge for billable time and would give you an estimate of the approximate amount of time of my current billable hours, and any overall total will be less if there is not a trial in this matter.  I filed a motion for joinder in an effort to have a joint trial of both defendants in order to keep the costs down for Foster County, but unfortunately, Mr. Carr objected to the joinder, and the Court denied the joinder.  As you are also demanding this request, it will require time from my assistant to help prepare the documents, and therefore, Foster County will also be billed for that time, that normally, I do not bill unless my assistant travels with me to the court proceedings, such as the trial.

I did not in any way put my billable time in confidential documents in an effort to prevent disclosure.  Rather, generally, a defendant is not entitled to the time that the State or prosecutor spends on a trial, and/or attorney work product, preliminary drafts and working papers.  See NDCC § 44-04-18(6) & N.D.A.G. 2002-O-05 (An adversary to a pending action or proceeding is governed by the rules of discovery and attorney work product and papers are not subject to general discovery, and an adversary and/or an agent of the adversary is not entitled to those documents in an open records request).  My billable time is preliminary drafts and working papers, as I do not normally bill for ALL of my billable time, nor all of the time for my assistant and these are papers for a government entity, and my invoice is prepared for presentation to a governing body and generally that may be withheld until it is provided to the governing body.  See NDCC §44-04-18(9) & (10); N.D. A.G. 98-O-04; N.D.A.G. 2001-O-04.  Further, Mr. Carr is a Foster County Commissioner and therefore, any invoice would be sent to my adversary and thus, another reason that I would not generally send my preliminary drafts and/or working papers.  See NDCC §44-04-18(9) & (10); N.D. A.G. 98-O-04; N.D.A.G. 2001-O-04.

While I still believe in good faith that there are specific statutes that govern my response that this is not a proper open records request at this time as stated in my prior email and also stated in this email as those statutes are there to promote justice and integrity to the criminal proceedings, and protect the rights of “charged defendants” prior to any conviction or acquittal, I will take the time to compile an invoice and bill Foster County for my current billable time from my preliminary drafts and working papers so as to prevent any further lawsuit or other matter sent to the attorney general’s office.

Please be aware that I will have to compile the invoice with general terms such as “meeting with witness” and “review of discovery documents” rather than specific names of witnesses and/or other specifics as those would relate to specific confidential information related to the pending criminal investigations, and this will require time to make sure to “excise” that information.  A public entity is entitled charge the requester $25 per hour, excluding the initial hour, for locating the records, NDCC § 44-04-18(2) and a public entity is entitled to charge the requester $25 per hour for excising confidential or closed material from the records, including electronic records, NDCC §44-04-18.10.   Please also note that there is a large volume of records of my notes and preliminary drafts and excising the information and locating all of the individual records from both Mr. Carr’s files and separately from Mr. Schlotman’s files will take some time to compile.  You will be billed at $25 per hour minus the initial hour for that time in locating all of the records and all of the time to excise the information.  If you want me to actually provide you with my chicken scratch preliminary notes rather than an overall invoice, this will take a lot longer, and I will have to charge you for copying all of my excised handwritten notes.  Even if I only compile the invoice and take the time to excise my notes into the invoice, this will take a lot less time than copying all of my redacted and excised handwritten notes, but it will still take sometime to compile my invoice.  The reason for this explanation is to provide notice of the fees, and also, to inform you that I will not be able to Immediately respond to your request do to the extremely large volume of notes, and files and documents, and letters from attorneys, and documents filed by the defense attorneys.  I am giving you this information to inform you that a reasonable time to respond to your request will be at least 3 or more days with the compiled invoice.  It will take longer than 3 days if you want all of the excised information.

Thus, please let me know if you are requesting just a compiled billing statement with generally excised information to protect the confidential and nondiscoverable information, or if you want the invoice and all of my excised handwritten notes.  If you want all of my handwritten notes, I will have to go and look at my car log and excise my personal trips from my vehicle log to provide you with all of the vehicle trips.  I will have to go through all of my discovery letters and excise the actual documents, but leave the remaining page numbers so that you are able to see the expense amounts.  While I am not required to create a document at this time as I have not yet sent an invoice to Foster County, I would rather create the invoice, and provide you with a copy of the excised invoice than to have to make thousands of pages of excised copies and excised personal car logs, and excised discovery letters, etc.

Thank you.

Kathleen K. Murray
Wells County State’s Attorney
700 Railway Street N # 325
Fessenden, ND  58438
kmurray@nd.gov
phone (701) 547-3885
fax (701) 547-2536
Please note NO PO BOX and new email

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Subject:
FW: Public Records Request
 
From:
"Murray, Kathleen K." (Add as Preferred Sender)  
Date: Wed, Feb 04, 2015 5:17 pm
To: "ted@centralcityremodelers.com"
Cc: "murfslaw@daktel.com" , BL433 , "Williams, Jaci L." , "Barton, Noreen A." , "Martin, Heather R."

Mr Keller:

You did not respond to my last email that was meant to be clarification from your open records request.  As previously stated, I believe that there is statutory authority to deny your request, as open records responses are not supposed to interfere with or impair proceedings, and the criminal proceedings are for enforcement of criminal laws.  Please note that Jaci Williams is my legal assistant, and Bryan Lang is the investigator working on this case, and will also be able to support the information regarding my billable hours.

However, my assistant and I began working on trying to locate the records and reviewing them in order to excise the information so that we will be able to timely respond to your request.  Just going through the files to take out all of my note books, and handwritten notes, as well as, my travel logs has already taken in excess of 5 hours of billable time to locate the records.  Thus, at $25 per hour to locate the information, the fees for the open records will be at least $100 billable directly to you, Mr. Keller, for responding to your open records request.

Please provide clarification if you want me to provide you with only a summary of my billable hours so that I do not have to spend the time and expense of excising information from the various sources that have those notes.  As I previously stated, I do not normally bill for all of my actual billable time because criminal cases are not about billable hours, but justice and enforcing criminal laws. So, if you want me to provide you with only a summary of my billable hours, then, I will continue to compile and review and locate those documents so that you may have my current running log of billable hours.   At this point, your initial request was for billable logs and invoices, and thus, I will create a billable log and bill you for the time to locate those records (minus the initial hour), and bill you for the time to excise information (minus the first hour) and provide you with a copy of any invoice.  If I am incorrect in my understanding of your open records request, please provide further clarification.

Thank you.
 
Kathleen K. Murray
Wells County State’s Attorney
700 Railway Street N # 325
Fessenden, ND  58438
kmurray@nd.gov
phone (701) 547-3885
fax (701) 547-2536
Please note NO PO BOX and new email