New Request To Be Filed,
Based On Additional Evidence,
After Connecticut FOI Commission
Turns Blind Eye At Document Suppression
Scores, Perhaps Hundreds Of Documents
Withheld By Schwartz & Chinni In Region 10
What Does It Take
To Rise To The Level
That Merits Fines?
Maybe Commissioner Russo, Others
Know The Secret Formula
By ANDY THIBAULT
The Cool Justice Report
July 11, 2008
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is available for reprint courtesy of The Cool Justice Report, http://cooljustice.blogspot.com
Hartford, CT - A new request to impose fines and re-open cases against former Region 10 school boss Paula Schwartz will be filed soon with the state Freedom of Information Commission.
The new request will follow denial of a motion by the commission on July 9.
Commissioner Vincent Russo said evidence presented to the commission on June 25 "does not rise to the level" that would merit fines.
That evidence included three emails produced by the new superintendent for public schools in Burlington and Harwinton, Alan Beitman. In a letter, Beitman said the documents were responsive to requests and complaints that were filed beginning Aug. 1, 2007. Schwartz and her lawyer, Christine Chinni, had denied -- repeatedly -- that these emails existed.
"I understand," Beitman said in a letter to me dated June 18, "that you had expressed the belief during the meeting of the full [FOI] Commission that there were electronic mail messages responsive to one of your requests in the possession of the Board that had not been provided to you … In the course of my review of records in another matter, however, I did come across several electronic messages of complaint received by Lewis Mills High School Principal Karissa Niehoff … "
More recent disclosures by Beitman - after June 25, 2008 - reveal there are many public records that should have been produced in response to the August 2007 requests and complaints. There are more than 20 such emails from April, May and June 2007. There are scores and perhaps hundreds of other records that should have been produced pursuant to the August 2007 requests.
Russo's statement raises questions:
* What level of wrongdoing merits fines?
* How can citizens evaluate the integrity and efficacy of the FOI Commission?
* Is the FOI Commission just another bureaucracy run by the government class in service of the government class?
Must Schwartz and Chinni have a public burning of citizens' documents while dancing in front of the FOI offices and performing Satanic rituals before they are held accountable?
To answer these and other questions, a request will be filed with the FOI Commission to produce at least three years of data showing requests for fines and the number of fines imposed for violations of the FOI law. Also, Commissioner Dennis O'Connor, who stated on June 11, 2008 that he found Schwartz's testimony to be credible, will be asked to delineate his criteria for establishing credibility and, in light of the new evidence, to reconsider or affirm his statement.
In addition, a request will be filed with Beitman to produce all records responsive to the requests and complaints beginning Aug. 1, 2007. Those cases were docketed as #FIC 2007-418, Andy Thibault v. Paula Schwartz, Superintendent of Schools, Regional School District #10, Docket # FIC 2007-421, Andy Thibault v. Paula Schwartz, Superintendent of Schools, Regional School District # 10, and Docket #FIC 2007-458, Andy Thibault v. Paula Schwartz, Superintendent of Schools, Regional School District # 10.
An Aug. 1, 2007 request to Schwartz included the following related to the Avery Doninger free speech case:
These records include but are not limited to: retainer agreement, indemnification clause, retainer check and other checks and invoices; also, meeting minutes, memorandums, phone logs and e-mails regarding the administration's handling of these matters. In addition, this request covers copies of the write-in votes submitted for Ms. Doninger and any and all related records including memos and e-mails. Memos and documents include but are not limited to discussions about the seizure of free speech t-shirts by your staff.
To amplify, this request covers any and all public records about this matter in your possession or control, regardless of where they are stored, whether in your office and office computer, home and home computer, etc.
Upon receipt of this requests, Schwartz and Chinni began to orchestrate a pattern of lies and deceit. They initially refused to produce write-in ballots showing they had stolen an election. This action ultimately resulted in an admonishment to Chinni by FOI Chairman Andrew O'Keefe on June 11, 2008.
Among the followup requests, an Aug. 2, 2007 letter sought "records of who was on the ballot, who was taken off the ballot, who was solicited to run by the administration and who "won" various elections without factoring the write-in votes."
Schwartz and Chinni were cited on June 11, 2008 for breaking the Connecticut Freedom of Information Law several times in 2007. They censored public records and failed to produce public records in a timely manner. Those documents included legal bills, insurance company records and write-in ballots from the stolen election at Lewis Mills High School in Burlington.
Schwartz and Lewis Mills Principal Kariss Niehoff are defendants in a civil rights lawsuit brought by recent graduate Avery Doninger and her mother, Lauren Doninger.
Niehoff was suspended for two days without pay last month after Beitman discovered she violated federal law and the Professional Code of Conduct of the State of Connecticut For School Administrators.
Schwartz and Niehoff had banned Doninger from running for re-election after she and other students sought community support to hold a popular battle of the bands known as Jamfest. Schwartz, angered and upset by community input, cancelled Jamfest. Doninger wrote about that on her personal blog, referring to the douche bags in the central office.
Schwartz ultimately rescheduled the event. Her 36-year-old son later found Doninger's post and another one calling the superintendent "a dirty whore." Only Doninger was punished. The other student received an award at graduation last year and was praised for her citizenship.
The Doningers are seeking -- among other remedies -- an apology for civil rights violations and recognition of the write-in victory.
New Haven U.S. District Judge Mark Kravitz denied a motion for a preliminary injunction [immediate relief] last fall and his ruling was appealed to the Second Circuit in New York. That appeal was denied May 29. A full trial is expected on the issues in New Haven U.S. District Court.
In Stolen Election
Freedom Of Information Report.