Questions on the survey prompted a public apology from City Manager Paul Sincock who last week admitted to false statements about the questionnaire to members of the Downtown Development Authority board.
The main topic of the questionnaire was the future development of Kellogg Park.
Community activist David Rucinski, who has campaigned against the city plans for Kellogg Park for several years, filed a Freedom of Information Act request seeking the costs of the questionnaire and the origination of the questions. He told the DDA board that the documents revealed the city paid $2,300 for costs related to the survey and that members of the city administration were directly involved in the development of the questions, contrary to Sincock's assertions.
The FOIA response revealed that the city community development director engaged Eastern Michigan University in July to prepare the survey at the direction of Sincock. Then in October, the DDA Development Director asked for a copy of the proposed survey questions from the college staff. Those questions were
“The FOIA documents show that the city manager spearheaded the survey back in July, that the city was an active participant in the development of the questions and that the city paid $2,300 for
Wolcott apologized to the DDA board members for not clarifying or questioning Sincock's Nov. 11 statements.
“We had about $2,500 worth of expenses related the survey and I certainly will strive to do better in the future to clearly identify those kinds of costs,” Sincock told the members of the DDA board. He said that he “literally did not know the questions until we received the report, you can believe that or not.”
Board member Ellen Elliott was obviously concerned about the false information provided to the board.
“Paul, I want you to understand that where we’re coming from is not about the cost. I don't know how else to make you understand about the lies. When you repeat what the FOIA says, that's not what it's about,” she
“The issue is not about the survey itself, but the way in which it was handled,” Elliott emphasized. “This is about trust and credibility going forward. When citizens resort to FOIA requests, it's an indication that they don't trust their government,” Elliott said. “How do we rebuild confidence for the board and the citizens? How do we avoid this from happening again?”