It's war, folks! We're manning the trenches. Pass the ammo!
As you know, Assistant City Attorney Daniel Ophoff (a.k.a. the Shredder of River Rat fame, pictured to the right) has obstructed at least a half dozen Freedom of Information Act requests for the two critical documents in which the Toxic Towers developers make specific statements about the amount of capital they invested to redevelop the old Berkey & Gar furniture factory into the Boardwalk residential-commercial complex. The documents contain contradictory representations about the amount invested, which indicates either bank fraud or tax fraud.
The first document is a letter written by the erstwhile lead developer, Tom Beckering, to the City Manager's office in February 2001 in which he states that he and his group invested $31.5 million into the Boardwalk project. The second document is another letter from Beckering's group to the City stating that the total investment was only $20 million. This letter was specifically identified in an e-mail message from City Assessor Glen Beekman to City Manager Kurt Kimball.
Ophoff, who has been using City resources to support the defense of the Toxic Towers developers in a pending hazardous waste lawsuit involving the Boardwalk project, has thrown up a number of excuses to block requests from local citizens to publicly disclose these documents. At one point he defamed to two citizens by falsely accusing them of dishonesty in attempts to get the City to disclose the documents. Unfortunately, those so-called champions of the little guy, Mayor Heartwell, Commissioner Jendrasiak, and Commissioner Dean blindly followed Ophoff's lead and certified this alleged dishonesty as fact -- without a single shred of evidence in support and big pile of it (and plain commonsense) to the contrary. Ophoff's latest tactic in obstructing disclosure is complaining that the description of the documents isn't clear enough for him to find them.
Enough is enough, dear readers. We are taking up the sword to protect the principle of open government in River City. The Freedom of Information Act is one of the cornerstones of open goverment in our state, and we're sick of the contempt Ophoff has shown for it and the circle-the-wagons herd mentality of our elected officials who permit him to do so. We are filing a lawsuit in Kent County Circuit Court to enforce FOIA and obtain disclosure of the documents that Ophoff is hiding on behalf of the Toxic Towers developers. We'll keep you posted. Wish us luck!