Friday, 02 December 2022

Benson: Assessor-recorder didn’t respond to PRA request on backlogs

In early April I submitted a Public Records Act request to the clerk to the Board of Supervisors asking for information relating to the backlogs at the Assessor-Recorder's Office.

Among the information I requested was a copy of annual reports required by the Board of Equalization (BOE) that were to be submitted to the BOE and the Board of Supervisors until the 11 items identified on their 2014 audit were all addressed.

The BOE had told me they had no record of these reports, and the Board of Supervisors responded that they also had no reports.

The incumbent indicated in his response to my request that he had submitted no further reports on those audit issues, though in a recent public forum in Clearlake he mentioned discovering that reports were not done and he had immediately submitted a report to the Board of Supervisors, but I never did receive that report despite requesting it.

I also asked for progress reports relating to the pending number of property tax appeals, the current backlog in reassessments to improved property, the number of months of delay in mailing out recorded documents, the number of pending property tax appeals, and information regarding staffing vacancies.

The Board of Supervisors responded that they had no data at all on any of these issues, and the incumbent’s response to the request neither provided the data nor specified that he had no data.

Because Richard Ford did not respond to those parts of my Public Records Act request, I concluded that he must not have any data tracking these backlogs. I expected more from an accountant, but was willing to accept his lack of data at face value.

I was astonished to read Elizabeth Larson’s interview with Richard Ford in Friday’s LakeCoNews.com in which he quoted very detailed statistics on the very items I had asked about.

It is apparent that either he did have these statistics and deliberately ignored those parts of my Public Records Act request, or he did not have these statistics and has scrambled to put them together now. Neither of these explanations speaks well of the incumbent.

Please join me in voting for Hannah Lee for assessor-recorder on June 7.

Mary Benson lives in Lower Lake, California.

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