Saturday, May 30, 2015

Markell's Office Confirms that Transparency Is A Myth In Delaware

Nathan Winograd's battle cry is that pet overpopulation is a myth, but as most communities across the U.S. know, pet overpopulation is a sad reality and a reality that will continue to be perpetuated as people like Nathan blame shelters for euthanasia, rather than blaming those that created by backyard breeding and those that dump their older pets even when there isn't a reasonable reason.  Many of us are still waiting for Nathan to provide that list of adopters that are willing and have the resources to take on the many old, sick and injured, pitbulls which have been over bred the most,

Unlike Nathan's unproven claims about pet overpopulation, we can show without doubt that transparency and FOIA under Governor Markell's office is very much a myth.

For those not in our state, Delaware resident's of our state became aware that that our Governor Jack Markell had a second state email under the name of Alan Jackson.  Understand that this is not a personal pseudonym email to allow him to express his viewpoints publicly, but an official state email account on the state server that appears to be a way to avoid the transparency of open records.

Many had a field day with this revelation, and even if the governor's office did provide FOIA documents involving that email address (which is doubtful), how would other agency's FOIA administrators know to also search the name Alan Jackson?  In fact, some have already shown that to be the case as you can see:
"As part of another FOIA request from this office, another individual received emails between Governor Jack Markell and Michelle Rhee however there were none in this FOIA request."  - Exceptional Delaware Blog

Wasserbach Emails / Ranji Emails

After some in New Castle County (NCC) took notice that their might be some concerns regarding Mr. Wasserbach's actions in his capacity as County Auditor for NCC, the Wasserbach emails were eventually released by New Castle County to the First State Animal Center and SPCA (previously known as Kent County SPCA or KCSPCA).  As a result of the discovery of those emails, it also became apparent that it would be beneficial to FOIA the emails of the major players in the drama that surround the Wasserbach emails.

We realized that First State Animal Center couldn't do a FOIA request of Senator Blevins email account, despite the fact that she appeared to encourage another shelter to under bid a contract so KCSPCA would be "underwater for sure".  That's because our cowardly legislature exempted their own email accounts when they wrote and updated FOIA legislation. That in itself should tell you something about our legislature, but we knew that lack of transparency has always existed..

But the governor's office is not exempt from FOIA requests.  Or at least that's what people thought. Apparently the governor office has conveniently decided to avoid producing documents by claiming that "no public documents exist", despite the fact that we already have a number of emails that we received as a result of the Wasserbach emails, and clearly don't fall with the parameters that the letter noted.

Below is the response from the governor's office to the FOIA request that was made.

Given the many Jennifer Ranji email threads that we received in the Wasserbach emails, we know that is utter nonsense. Below are the exemptions referenced.

(l) "Public record" is information of any kind, owned, made, used, retained, received, produced, composed, drafted or otherwise compiled or collected, by any public body, relating in any way to public business, or in any way of public interest, or in any way related to public purposes, regardless of the physical form or characteristic by which such information is stored, recorded or reproduced. For purposes of this chapter, the following records shall not be deemed public:
(6) Any records specifically exempted from public disclosure by statute or common law;    
(16) Emails received or sent by members of the Delaware General Assembly or their staff

Below are just a couple of the many innocuous emails we have in addition to the ones included in my previous post and many more.  Clearly just copying a legislator onto an email that was sent to people at state agencies and animal shelters across the state is not the intent of the exemption above.  If you read the email below, this was not correspondence with the General Assembly, they were just provided a copy.

So in the end, it was okay for Faithful Friends to pass around as they like to their board members, but the rest of us in Delaware that pay for the resulting regulations aren't supposed to see the process involved in creating those regulations?  That's transparency? FAIL.

And this example is even better. Nathan Winograd, who lives in California, was able to see this email, but the governor's office thinks it's okay to keep this hidden from Delaware residents that make public record requests.  That's transparency?  FAIL.

As you can see, the Freedom of Information Act under Governor Markell's office is not complied with, and the lack of transparency couldn't be more evident.  Transparency is only avoided when you have something to hide, and apparently that is the case when it comes to the many emails surrounding the attempt to put KCSPCA "underwater".  What else is this administration hiding?

Given that transparency in Delaware has clearly been shown to be a myth, I think the REAL Alan Jackson should address the political 'games' that take place behind closed doors in Delaware.  Hiding the truth when it comes to so many issues in Delaware also shows us the lack of class and professionalism that is current in our top office for the State of Delaware and it's time for the redneck games to end.