Al's RTK Answer That
Took The Cake
In a previous RTK requesting copies of
county prison ad hoc meeting sign in sheets
or minutes of those county meetings,
Commission Chairman Al Ambrosini wrote
in the RTK answer that no meeting minutes
are taken or kept. Gee, we thought
that was
pretty bad!

So the next RTK focused on requesting the
prison ad hoc committee work group reports.
If they're not taking minutes, surely, surely,
they would have to be focusing on preparing
and generating group reports.

But 457 pages of a RTK answer requesting
those work group reports turned up only
about 20 actual reports generated by the
county prison ad hoc committee work groups
or letters written by the work group leaders.

Reading through the short list of work group
reports received in the RTK answer, it's
apparent that there have been no work group
reports received at the courthouse for 6 to 7
months, and that only 2 of the 4 prison work
groups early on offered any reports or
written documentation of their work even at

We note that there were no work group
reports at all mentioning any other possible
jail locations other than the Army Reserve
property in Uniontown and the current jail
location. No report received in the RTK
answer mentions anything about talks with
county airport board members or any
appraisals for airport land leasing ideas and

The RTK answer received here consists of:

1. Two letters written in early 2013, from the
county controller trying to obtain "sole
source bidding" on the Army Reserve
building, since, as he wrote in the RTK
obtained information, Uniontown Hospital,
reportedly, also had interest in acquiring that
same property. "The biggest hurdle will be to
get a sole source consideration, this defined
is that our needs are superlative to any other
organization...The biggest hurdle will be to
get sole source consideration, because the
Uniontown Hospital has expressed interest in
this property as well. We also have to get an
appraisal done on the property to determine
what the in kind conditions will be. If the
property is valued at 4 million that would
mean that we have to procure 4 million to
satisfy the DOA in kind requirement."

2. Online legal information from a prison
construction case in Virginia and a news
story from Northern Virginia Daily News,
with the headline of "Officials: Referendum
not an option for jail authority."  Someone
reading this information previously drew
brackets around a passage in that bundle
stating, "Creation of a regional authority
made up of more than 1 locality would
eliminate the need to put a debt issue to a
referendum." The only thing in the RTK
packet uncovered so far even remotely
possibly related is an unsigned, handwritten
page dated 10/1/2012, in which someone
writes and asks, "Would the county
commissioners consider a multicounty
regional prison facility?"

3. An undated Fiscal Group report, written by
the county controller to his fellow working
group members: "One of my greatest
concerns is our interest rate environment at
this time... It simply means that $30,000,000
today will have a real economic cost, due to
inflation of $30,900,000 by 2014."  He also
wrote, "Our operational costs should
decrease from efficiencies in utilities, labor
productivity and internal controls. Fiscally,
our county is one of the most sound in
Pennsylvania." The controller in his role as
fiscal group leader told his fellow fiscal prison
work group members in this report there's
"minimal chance of increasing taxes" to fund
a new prison.

4. From the architectural team leader to his
group members, he wrote in a report dated
April 18, 2013, "We have partnered with
Fay-Penn and the economic development
council to assist us in locating possible sites.
We met with them in March and again on
April 12th and hope to meet again in May.
We would like 10-20 acres with available
utilities so we have the room for future
expansion with facilities on site for programs
such as job development, substance abuse
and menal health issues."

5. An undated architectural group report
states that 3 meetings took place with
architecture/engineering firms who design,
construct and review prison need
assessments for local, state and federal

6. Architecture/engineering firm L.R.
Kimball and Associates met at Bud Murphy's
with the controller, county commission chair
and the architectural team leader on 2/20/13.
Focused on Beaver County's prison design by

7. In a report dated January 17, 2013, the
architectural team leader wrote to his work
group, "Eric Tupper, a contact person from
an architectural firm in Pittsburgh named
Piper, Obrian and Herr, has been to our
county looking at our problems and doing
studies regarding a new prison at our current
location and at the reserve center along
Route 21... He is sure both locations will
work." Meanwhile, 5 days later...

8. Report dated January 22, 2013: Meeting
with architectural team members and
construction compant DCK, formerly known
as The Dick Corporation, in nearby
Elizabeth. A report from the team leader to
his architecture work group members stated,
"A new facility behind the court house can be
constructed, however, it also would be very
cost prohibative due to land development, a
flood plan, pedestrian and vehicle traffic,
parking and other issues."  Meanwhile, that
same very day...

9. In another report dated January 22, 2013,
the architectural group leader wrote to
document the first prison work group
meeting on November 8, 2012. In the report,
he wrote on January 22, 2013, "Currently
two locations are being discussed, the current
location and the reserve center... Both
locations will work."

10. In a report dated January 24, 2013, from
the architectural team leader, this is written:
"The team suggested at least a 500 bed
facility at this point."  Even with the increase
in population that county leaders stress,
we're still shaking our heads here wondering
how they guesstimate wisely. The county has
no answer to our RTK question of how many
non-violent prisoners we have who qualify for
the Day Reporting Center instead of jail.
Shouldn't that be known to decide what the
county needs, as opposed to what it may

11. In an undated report, the architectural
group leader wrote of the usual problems
we've heard about, with overcrowding, etc.,
but additionally wrote that there's a need for
a "secure garage to pick up and drop off
inmates within facility" and a "need to have
more vehicles and deputies for transport.
Court constables should be under the sheriff

Other things that the county included in the
RTK answer that were not generated by the
county prison ad hoc committee work groups:

1. About 30 pages of state budget information.
2. A few pages on grant application.
3. PR info on Astorino Architecture,
Engineering and Construction
4. PR info on CLG, a planning, design,
program management, facility management,
development and finance company
5. PR info. Crabtree, Rohrbaugh and
Associates' booklet, "Correctional
Experience Prepared for Fayette County
Pennsylvania."  In reality, this 40 or so page
bundled for Fayette ends up being pages of
photos of many, many other impressive
prisons that the architectural firm has
6. PR info on DCK Worldwide (formerly
known as The Dick Corporation from
Elizabeth, PA
7. PR info on Pieper, O'Brien, Herr,
Architects, DCK Worldwide
8. Info on the Franklin County PA prison
9. About 20 worthwhile reading pages on
"Genesis House, Inc.," a Uniontown
non-profit housing program for men leaving

So except for the 20 or so pages of what the
RTK actually requested and the 20 or so
mentioned above worthwhile reading pages,
I'm figuring the county owes a significant
refund on the shameful RTK answer it gave
that took the cake.

5 Aug 13
Copyright Protected

Homepage/Back to Rants&Raves
And the county clerk's RTK

To be fair to the county, its most recent RTK packet
received and summarized in the left column, on the
county prison work group reports, was shared with 12
people to read and review. To make it interesting,
the 12 saw and read the RTK a day before I took my
shot at reading the massive stack of papers.

Then, to make it really  interesting, I welcomed an
unsolicited request from one of the actual county
prison work group members wanting to review the
RTK paper pile big as Texas. Employment
identification and employer pay stub confirmed that
person's identity matched a name on a list that the
county gave the hometown paper of persons serving
on the county prison ad hoc committee.

Of biggest concern to most in the group of 12 is the
belief that the county solicitor needs to tag along
more often to monitor some or all of these monthly
county prison work group committe meetings and
some of the meetings that the group leaders and
commissioner(s) have had with private companies.
Anyone with a potential to become a contractor for
goods or services that require bid approval should not
be met with privately.

"With all the bid rigging investigations, arrests,
convictions of public officials we have had, this
makes no sense to have county representatives and
county elected officials meeting in a bar with a
private company.

"Meeting privately that way puts the county at risk
for a suit from a contractor or another competitor
down the road, should the privately wined and dined
one later get a contract that needs bidding approval,"
offered another.

The two lawyers in the group of 12 RTK readers also
question why a county controller would be the county
designee to approach the army reserve to lobby an
agreement to become the reserve's sole source
property bidder, a legal status needed for property
procurement from the reserve. The deal, had it
transpired, would have affirmed sole source bidding
status and the reserve's opinion and decision that the
county had a superlative need for the property for a
prison -- say, for instance, over another interested
party, ironically, a county mental/behavioral health
inpatient and outpatient provider, Uniontown

Anyone from out of county in the group of 12
reading here was quite surprised to learn that dates,
meeting times, location and information for the
monthly committee meetings and its four
sub-committee meetings were never put out in legal
notice publication in newspapers. The homies in the
dozen, however, were not surprised.

In the group of 12 readers were an architect, police
officer, two lawyers, a county employee of some
vague type to preserve his/her identity, two social
service workers, one out of the area politician,
professor, news writer, SCI prison professional and
one former prisoner. These 12 were some of the first
to inquire about possibly reading the RTK before
information about it in the left column was published
online here.

I note also that since the RTK information on the
left was published, two known in the field of design,
demolition, construction and building, who have not
been invited by commissioners to present their
business PR package/portfolio/accolades to the
county, have also asked to see the county's entire
RTK answer.

To be fair to the county, I wanted a group of readers,
people with different backgrounds and opinions -- in
other words, some who already say that a new jail is
needed and some who want the ultimate addition put
on out back of the courthouse -- to read and review
the RTK, offer their opinion on the RTK answer and
then preview what is on the left before it was
published here.

Those in the group of 12 readers with the best
eyesight and time to read read first.

Nine of the 12 RTK readers believe that the vast
bulk of the RTK answer did not properly answer the
RTK question.

Those 9 of 12 thought that there should have been no
confusion that the RTK requested prison work group
reports should have been  reports penned by work
group members or leaders, including any
document/portfolio/business biography/other info
provided that the material was packaged as a noted
addendum or noted report attachment.

Nine of 12 believe that the RTK preparer(s) went
overboard, including the reading group's token
county prison ad hoc committee  member, who
claimed to be viewing almost all of the RTK packet
contents here for the very first time ever. Nobody
here has any reason to doubt that person's honesty.

Yesterday, however, the chief county clerk seemed
to disagree in email to Commissioner Vince
Zapotosky about the situation after email requesting
a partial refund was sent to the county. I got exactly
what I wanted, she claims.

Not that anyone here is holding her breath that the
partial refund will be approved, mind you. The money
itself is not the real issue -- especially since a
contractor wants to buy the whole pile of RTK answer
papers for his own possible future reference. The
issue is PR fluff not referenced as an attachment or
addendum on a county written or generated report
should not have been sent in a RTK answer. Selling
the packet to the contractor isn't the right thing to
do, either. He is encouraged to file a duplicate RTK
request. Should he receive a different packet, yes,
then we can certainly feature that information later.

In the meantime, though, another RTK from here is
sent, to learn in a simply stated, one-sentence
response, how much money the county has taken in
for RTK answers. Stay tuned.

In the meantime, as well, perhaps someone at the
courthouse should check Commissioner Zapotosky's
email account. He's usually pretty good about
responding and responding rather quickly, overall.  

Yesterday, he said several times that he previously
was unaware of the prison work group reports RTK
This link, however, shows that email
informing him of the RTK on 8-1-13 was sent, as well
as others to the courthouse about this RTK. Perhaps
his email account might need reset, as did the
minority commissioner's a few months ago, when
email from here wasn't getting to her county email

8 Aug 13
Copyright Protected