Public Document On File At State Freedom of Information Commission, 1-17-08
Final Brief / Summary Of Case
RE: Case Nos. FIC 2007-418, 2007-421, and 2007-458
For hearing held Jan. 4, 2008
Complaints by Andy Thibault
Paula Schwartz, Superintendent of Schools,
Regional School District #10
P.O. Box 1415
Litchfield, CT 06759
* Phone- 860-690-0211 * Fax- 860-567-9119
Jan. 17, 2008
Dennis O'Connor, Hearing Officer
Staff Atty. Tracie Brown
Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission
18-20 Trinity St.
Hartford, CT 06106
Special Master Needed
To Oversee Search
For Missing Public Records
In Region 10
Schwartz, School Board
Should Be Fined $3,000
An Administrator Should Be Compelled
To Attend FOI Workshops
The state Freedom of Information Commission should appoint a Special Master to oversee a search for missing documents pursuant to the above-captioned requests and complaints and fine the respondents Paula Schwartz / Regional School District 10 a total of $3,000. To ensure a legitimate search, neither Schwartz nor Atty. Christine Chinni should be allowed to participate. Any Region 10 administrator involved in the search for missing public documents should be required to attend a workshop conducted by FOI staff.
If any documents have been destroyed in violation of state law, a complaint will be filed with the state's attorney.
There are scores if not hundreds of missing pages of public records pursuant to these requests. For example, on Jan. 4 Schwartz testified she received a letter from Massamont Insurance informing her that Howd & Ludorf would be the lead firm representing her in the Doninger civil rights litigation, popularly known as The Famous Douche Bag case. Why wasn't this letter produced?
With respect to candor, the FOI Commission cannot give any weight to testimony by Schwartz.
It was clear from Day One of these requests and complaints that Schwartz and Chinni never intended to produce certain public records. Indeed, they lied from the start about the existence of write-in ballots.
Schwartz and Chinni knew the law compelled them to produce original documents promptly during regular business hours.
Instead, they responded as follows:
"The Board does not poses [sic] any copies of the write-in votes for Ms. Doninger … Accordingly, the board will not be providing any documents in response to these requests."
The intent of Chinni and Schwartz and their practices were clear: Deny, Delay, Stonewall. This probably works in a certain percentage of cases.
Indeed, it took extreme vigilance and follow-up - including a promise to pursue the trail of any records destroyed illegally with the Chief State's Attorney - to get Chinni and Schwartz to produce the ballots eight days after the initial request. This violated the FOI law's requirement for timely production.
The election results ultimately were reported by The Cool Justice Report and other media outlets including The Waterbury Republican-American and The Journal Inquirer.
No citizen should have to wade through this kind of crap to get public records.
The FOI Commission cannot allow this type of behavior to occur without serious consequences.
Indeed, this pattern of lying continued unabated throughout the course of the above-captioned matters.
Chinni wrote to the commission, after I requested a subpoena for her to testify:
"In these proceedings, my partner, Craig Meuser, will present my sworn testimony on these matters."
Actions by Chinni and Schwartz reveal a posture that production of public records in compliance with the law is some kind of game of hide and seek.
As I noted in the Jan. 4 hearing, Chinni had been the conduit for all of my FOI requests. She is an integral witness in these matters. Yet, she got away with playing the FOI Commission and the law. After promising to testify and being the subject of a subpoena request, Chinni stated on Jan. 4 she would not testify. And she got away with it!
Chinni and Schwartz are the same characters who got away - so far - with records tampering when they stuffed a student's guidance / college file with inappropriate materials over the objection of guidance staff. The record shows they are involved in the minutia of student life when it serves their personal needs, however bizarre or craven those needs might seem to an impartial observer. It is preposterous and insulting to the FOI Commission for Chinni and Schwartz to suggest they had no role in the suppression of the write-in vote that elected Avery Doninger Secretary of the Lewis Mills High School Class of 2008.
Schwartz feigned ignorance during the Jan. 4 hearing.
This is the same person who had her 36-year-old son scour the internet around the time of the election campaign for the posting that referred to her as a douche bag and also, significantly, as "a dirty whore." The latter designation is significant because Schwartz and her underling, Principal Karissa Niehoff, singled out Doninger for punishment and actually gave the author of the "dirty whore" comment an award with praise for good citizenship. Thus, feigned ignorance of the write-in ballots or any other documents not produced in compliance with the FOI law simply does not cut it.
By the date of this writing, the FOI Commission should have received Chinni's unredacted billing records and the gibberish sampling of billing records produced pursuant to these requests and complaints. I certainly trust the FOI Commission staff to compel public production of those records as appropriate.
The FOI Commission must also determine that records for any and all legal expenses paid for directly or indirectly by taxpayers are in fact public records. These include the Howd & Ludorf records hidden by Chinni and Schwartz behind the cover of an insurance company or companies used as beards or fronts. At this time I also trust the FOI Commission staff to compel public production of those records as appropriate.
Signifcantly, Schwartz and Chinni have not produced a single email or memo about the write-in ballots or any of the other related requests. They have not produced a single phone log. Indeed, they have not even produced a single email or phone log that was the subject of testimony by Schwartz and Lewis Mills Principal Karissa Niehoff in U.S. District Court. Schwartz and Niehoff testified about a number of emails and phone calls received on April 25, 2007, regarding their cancellation of the battle of the bands known as Jamfest.
For these reasons and others before the FOI Commission, an independent search of Regional School District 10's files for public records pursuant to these requests and complaints must be conducted. Chinni and Schwartz have had more than half a dozen opportunities to produce the public records in question. They must be held accountable with the full weight of sanctions and fines commensurate with the FOI law.
The FOI Commission should also take judicial notice of its recent finding that Chinni and Schwartz violated the FOI law when they illegally forced another citizen to make an appointment before he could view public records.
The FOI Commission is a bastion of hope for citizens who believe -- wisely or not -- in the viability of the democratic process. The question remains, for the FOI Commission and all Connecticut citizens and taxpayers: Why Do Chinni and Schwartz Have So Much To Hide?
Copies mailed to:
-- Atty. Christine Chinni [today]
Chinni &Meuser LLC
30 Avon Meadow Lane
Avon, CT 06001
-- Gov. Rell
-- Chief State's Attorney
-- State and Federal Grievance Committees