Monday, August 06, 2007

FOI Complaint: Legal Fees & Documents

Regional School District 10
Aug. 6, 2007

Did Superintendent, Board of Education
And Others Perpetrate A Fraud
On Taxpayers, The FOI Commission
And State And Federal Courts
Using Counsel - In Common Parlance - As A Beard Or Front
For A Public Agency To Hide Spending Of The People's Money?

Did Counsel, In Effect, Act As A Public Agency?


P.O. Box 1415 Litchfield, CT 06759
Cellular 860-690-0211 * Fax- 860-567-9119

Connecticut Magazine

Mon., 8-6-07

Complaint / Request For Hearing
Re; Denial Of Public Records Request By Regional District 10 School System,
Specifically Documents Related To Hiring Of Howd & Ludorf

State Freedom of Information Commission
18-20 Trinity St.
Hartford, CT 06106

Dear Ms. or Sir:

This is a formal complaint following denial of a request for public records.

Please see request letters to Regional District 10 School Superintendent Paula Schwartz dated Aug. 1 and Aug. 2, 2007; and denials contained in letter from the district's attorney dated Aug. 1 and Aug. 3, 2007. Also, please refer to other correspondence in this file.

In the requests to Ms. Schwartz, it is noteworthy that I asked for "any and all public records about this matter in your possession or control, regardless of where they are stored … "

My requests were broad, comprehensive and detailed. In my request letters, I asked for -- among other items - documents related to the hiring of Howd &Ludorf.

Any person should have been able to inspect at least some of these documents promptly, during regular business hours, as the law demands. Prior to my request, appearances were filed in U.S. District Court by two law firms for the Region 10 administrators, who are defendants in a civil rights action noted in the FOI requests.

Important questions arise regarding the handling of these requests by Ms. Schwartz's lawyer. Among them: Is the lawyer saying, by her words and deeds, that Superintendent Schwartz, the board of education and Region 10 taxpayers are not the ultimate authorities regarding the expenditure of taxpayer money? Is she really claiming these documents are not in the possession or control of the superintendent and board of education that pay her fees and the fees of Howd &Ludorf?

In her denials, Christine Chinni, attorney for Region 10, wrote, first, on Aug. 2:

"The board does not possess any billing records related to legal work that has been farmed out to the firm Howd &Ludorf and / or [this firm] regarding alleged civil rights violations by [Mrs. Schwartz] and [her] administration against students including Avery Doninger. The Board does not possess a retainer agreement, indemnification clause retainer check or any other check or invoice from either firm regarding any alleged violations of any student's civil rights. Therefore, the Board will not be providing any such documents."

Then, on Aug. 3, Chinni wrote:

"As I stated in my previous letter to you, the Board does not possess any billing records related to legal work that has been farmed out to the firm Howd &Ludorf and / or [this firm] regarding alleged civil rights violations by [Mrs. Schwartz] and [her] administration against students including Avery Doninger. Neither this firm nor Howd &Ludorf has sent Region 10 any billing regarding the Doninger matter, has entered into a retainer agreement with Region 10 concerning that matter in particular or any other matter concerning student civil rights in particular, or has received an indemnity clause or retainer check regarding that matter or any other alleged violation of any student's civil rights. You did not, as you allege in your more recent documentation, request copies of court documents. Moreover, your request was made to Region 10, and I responded on their behalf. Chinni &Meuser LLC is not a public agency, and is not covered by the Freedom of Information Act. (the "Act.") Accordingly, any documents in our firm's possession, or that of Howd & Ludorf, that are not in possession of Region 10, are not subject to provisions of the Act."

Perhaps Chinni, acting as Santa Claus, is paying the freight for work done in Doninger v. Niehoff, Schwartz, et al. It is more likely, however, that Chinni's tactics to avoid production of documents as required by the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act constitute a subterfuge to hide expenditure of taxpayer money.

It does not appear at this time that Chinni is a defendant related to this action. Howd & Ludorf's client - were truth and reality to enter the picture - appears to be the Regional 10 District School system. In common parlance, Superintendent Schwartz and the Region 10 Board of Education seem to have allowed Chinni to act as a beard or front to launder the people's money to Howd &Ludorf. It seems abundantly clear that Chinni has acted as the agent of a public agency and /or in effect as a public agency to allocate and spend taxpayer money.

The deceptive actions described herein demonstrate an utter and reprehensible disregard for the FOI law, the Rules of Professional Conduct and the fiduciary duties of all parties involved. Deceiving non members of the Bar or being less than truthful constitute serious attorney misconduct under the Rules of Professional Conduct. Certainly the FOI Commission or the courts can make referrals to the Statewide Grievance Committee, the Federal Grievance Committee or other authorities if appropriate. The state Department of Education might also have an interest in reviewing this matter.

In lieu of requesting subpoenas for witnesses from the school district and the law firms at this time, I request that the district and the firms voluntarily send administrators and other staff with direct knowledge of the handling of the hiring of Howd &Ludorf to testify under oath at the hearing.

Also, I seek the imposition of a $1,000 fine for failure to produce the public record in compliance with the FOI law, as well as mandatory attendance at FOI workshops for the responsible parties and any other sanctions, penalties or admonitions as the commission deems proper. Because of the grave issues in the public interest connected with this case, I request an expedited hearing. The law does not allow school boards or their agents to hide the expenditure of public money. Nor does it allow them to hide a commitment to spend public money.


Andy Thibault
Copies to Supt. Schwartz, Gov. Rell, Chief State's Attorney, Secretary of the State Bysiewicz


Index of Correspondence posted on-line,

Aug. 1-3, 2007 Re;
Public Records Sought
In Burlington Civil Rights Case, aka The Douche Bag[s] Case

Postings correspond to materials faxed and e-mailed
to Regional 10 District School Superintendent Schwartz,
FOI Commission and others as noted.

Public Records Sought, 8-1-07

Burlington FOI Response, 8-1-07

Burlington FOI Discussion,
Amended Request
&Complaint #1, 8-2-07

FOI Complaint Filed
In Burlington
Missing Write-In Votes
Key Component
In Free, Open Election, 8-3-07

Lawyer Plays
Cat & Mouse Game
With Write-In Votes,
Other Public Records
Ballots Apparently
Are Stored Somewhere, 8-3-07

Howd & Ludorf
Appearance Filed
In Burlington Case, 8-3-07

Ethical Question
Did Chinni hire
Howd &Ludorf
on behalf of Region 10
so they could hide
the retainer agreement
and costs -- at least
for a while? 8-3-07

Chinni Appearance
In Burlington Case, 8-3-07

No comments: