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My state probably doesn't need more Dems so much as Much Mo' Betta Dems, if the measure is conducting public business in public.

My run-in with a local town clerk isn't partisan so much as indicative of a lack of serious attention to open government in practice by the legislature and O'Malley administration, overrun the both of them with Dems.

Let's see.

-- I've gotten to argue with a town clerk and hear from their hourly lawyer over whether I can be "required" to fill out a "PIA Request Form" under Maryland law (to get one sheet of paper). I'm sure the bill to the town for responding to my phone call in a letter far exceeds the cost of just giving me the letter with a smile.

My point was that the e-mail request I sent (asking if possible for an electronic copy, e.g. a PDF scan or a fax) *was* all the "writing" I needed to do, and they couldn't force me into putting anything more in writing.

His point was, well, I'm not entirely sure. I think it was that gnat-like parsing of the statute is very important, in fact, more so than just providing one sheet of paper.

-- Martin O'Malley, who has presidential ambitions since he's a term-limited Gov, shows his public spirit and his progressive credentials by walling off the Baltimore City IG's materials:

"... a 2005 executive order, signed by then-Mayor Martin O'Malley, by which the inspector general position was created.  The order specifies that complaints received by the inspector general and reports and records generated by the inspector general were not subject to public disclosure laws."
-- Sun reporter barred from City Hall while looking for supposedly public stats:

Mayor Rawlings-Blake is a Dem, having replaced the corrupt. Sheila Dixon, a Dem.

Originally posted to dadadata on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 05:02 PM PDT.

Also republished by Maryland Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for the hopeless quest for decent gummint. (3+ / 0-)

    Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

    by dadadata on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 05:01:58 PM PDT

  •  why didn't you submit the written form? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If that's what the statue required?

    Minority rights should never be subject to majority vote.

    by lostboyjim on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 05:07:36 PM PDT

    •  You misunderstand. The statute in Maryland (0+ / 0-)

      does NOT require a written form.  He was just getting a lot of bullshit.

    •  There is no requirement for a request in writing. (0+ / 0-)

      at all.

      However, it's a crappy statute.

      On the one hand they say, "hey, you have an option to list everything that you'll give out on verbal request ... Oh and stuff like budgets, resolutions, bylaws should be given out on request."

      On the other they say the law "envisions" written requests.

      And yes, email is considered "written."

      Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

      by dadadata on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 05:53:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It looks to me like a fight between you and a city (0+ / 0-)

    clerk about who will provide the fewest number of pieces of paper to the other. Your second link is dead, btw.

  •  Is this abnormal for a city's IG office? (0+ / 0-)

    Vote Democrat! Because drinking piss is better than eating shit...

    by Tirge Caps on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 05:38:35 PM PDT

  •  Nice little diary. I've done several PIA (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JamieG from Md

    requests in Maryland.  You're correct that an email is sufficient under the law.

    However, it's better to send a letter by snail mail, in my opinion.  This is not as a legal matter, but as a practical matter of dealing with bureaucrats.

    Good luck. And press them if they defy.

    •  I'm a reporter. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I got the letter by walking in and asking. Shot a foto with iPhone. Clerk called that " cheating the town out of 25¢" ...

      Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

      by dadadata on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 05:59:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Can't scan docs in Dallas (0+ / 0-)

        There's a $1 scan copy fee per page, with free viewing.  The reasoning was that a scanned doc could be edited and re-printed as the original.  Doesn't hold water with me, since I immediately scan my $1 copies, but there you have it...

        In other words, it isn't a MA thing, and it isn't a state thing, is a local clerk thing.

        Minority rights should never be subject to majority vote.

        by lostboyjim on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 07:03:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  $1 per page is absurd. (0+ / 0-)

          For anything.

          A modern fax can spew out 20 pages in about 6 seconds. A fax is a scan.

          I costed out a typical Xerox multifunction office machine, and with paper, you're talking no more than 4.5 cents a page for PRINTED materials.

          In Maryland they are not allowed to bill for "time" if the process takes less than 2 hours.

          So even a quarter is absurd.

          I'm afraid the law in MD needs tweaking to set limits on the typical abuses we see. For example, billing to have a costly lawyer sit there and black out stuff.

          Redactions should be "at the agency's expense."

          Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

          by dadadata on Thu Aug 23, 2012 at 05:26:12 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Nice shot at O'Malley, getting tired of this crap (0+ / 0-)

    You have posted anti-O'Malley bullshit here before, with accusations that his administration was oppressing you as a reporter.

    The linked story is about a turf battle between the comptroller's office and the mayor's office, nothing more nefarious than bureaucratic infighting. But no, you swear this is all about O'Malley being secretive.  Here's a clue ... Inspector General positions need to be secretive to do their jobs. I understand this isn't a perspective you choose to acknowledge because it goes against your agenda, but it is so.  If their work were subject to public information requests then people who fear they are under investigation could just request the information and know for certain. This does not make for a very effective investigative body.

    As far as your run-in with this clerk, perhaps you just rub people the wrong way and cause them to want to fuck with you. I know you have that effect on me. Martin O'Malley is a decent Democrat, not great, but great isn't electable at this time in American history. Your continued attempts to portray him as some kind of stealth governor are not appropriate on this site. Enough with this personal vendetta against him.

    Free: The Authoritarians - all about those who follow strong leaders.

    by kbman on Wed Aug 22, 2012 at 08:38:30 PM PDT

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