Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Breaking the law, breaking the law

Update #1 (8/7/07 4:57pm): It’s been a busy afternoon at the Franklin County Commission. It seems someone in their office has been furiously downloading pages from this blog as the stats log below attests. Can another hit piece by their friends at the Columbus Dispatch be far behind? Shouldn’t they be busy instead preparing my Open Records Act request?

Original Post: Exactly how is it that the Franklin County Commission continues to sit on an Open Records Act request submitted on July 30th at 10:51am to their Public Information Director Hanna Greer regarding the appointment of Abukar Arman to the Criminal Justice Planning Board and their alleged investigation into his extremist statements, while simultaneously providing some of the same information to Columbus Dispatch reporter Barbara Carmen for her front-page article published yesterday? Inquiring minds want to know!

Hanna Greer confirmed receipt of this request the following day in a phone call. We haven’t heard from the Franklin County Commission since, but they were eager to pass the same information along to the Columbus Dispatch for their story. In a phone interview on Thursday, Barbara Carmen read her own Open Records Act request to me, and it was strikingly simliar to my own. The Dispatch got their information; I’m still waiting for mine. Maybe this post should have been titled, “Waiting for Godot”?

Here is the Open Records Act request I filed:

From: Patrick S. Poole
To: “Hanna Greer” hmgreer@franklincountyohio.gov
Date: Mon, Jul 30, 2007 at 10:51 AM

Ms. Greer,

This letter is a request to inspect and copy public records pursuant to Section 149.43 of the Ohio Revised Code, the Open Records Act. Pursuant to this law, I am requesting immediate access to the following public records:
  • Any and all copies of documents, reports, memoranda, of internal and external correspondence, memos, emails, faxes, notes, and meeting minutes of the Franklin County Commissioners and/or Commission staff related to the recommendation and appointment of Abukar Arman to the Franklin County Criminal Justice Planning Board on or before March 8, 2005. (I am particularly interested in any communication with the Columbus Public Schools on this matter.)

  • Any and all copies of documents, reports, memoranda and correspondence relating to all internal and external correspondence, memos, emails, faxes, notes, internet logs and meeting minutes of the Franklin County Commissioners and/or Commission staff, and any communications with the members of the Criminal Justice Planning Board, Community Corrections Planning Board, Community Planning Committee and Terrorism Advisory Committee, related to the investigation into Abukar Arman’s public statements in support of terrorist groups and individuals following Commissioner Paula Brooks’ July 12, 2007 directive to County Administrator Don Brown and Homeland Security and Justice Programs Director Kathy Crandall that the allegations made concerning Mr. Arman’s public statements be “investigated expeditiously”. I would also request any communications between the Commission members and its staff with Mr. Arman since July 12, 2007.

  • Any and all copies of documents, reports, memoranda, of all external correspondence received by the Franklin County Commissioners and/or Commission staff on or following July 11, 2007 with reference to Abukar Arman’s presence on any boards or committees of the Franklin County Commission.

Since you have previously indicated in your July 13, 2007 public statement to Dirk Thompson of 610AM WTVN that all information handled by the Criminal Justice Planning Board is “available publicly”, I would finally request to inspect the Homeland Security Strategy referred to on page 1 and following in the Franklin County Comprehensive Strategic Justice Plan dated December 2006.

The Ohio Open Records law requires prompt preparation of the requested records and to make them available for inspection at all reasonable times during regular business hours. Please inform me by phone (******) or by email (*****) when this information is ready for inspection.

Patrick Poole
FrontPage Magazine

Most of this information they should have already had at hand from the Dispatch request. I readily admit that was easy for the Franklin County Commissioners and their staff to shape the public narrative of events and to do political damage control by denying me the information needed to continue to report on this story, and passing some of that same information to their media establishment allies. They just may have broken state laws in doing so. As I said here previously, government officials never learn that it’s the cover-up that gets you.