MID is Back to its Old Tricks Obfuscating the TRUTH
By Emerson Drake
MID attorney Tim O’Laughlin manages to drum up business for himself while building walls between MID at its ratepaying owners also known as the public. The following is a copy of, what has become a typical response from O’laughlin to a Public Information Request made by Reed Smith.
Linda Fischer, Paralegal
I am in receipt of your e-mail dated May 11, 2012 relative the attached response from MID General Counsel Tim O’Laughlin.
Mr. O’Laughlin’s letter dated May 11, 2012, does not comply with the District’s obligations under the Public Records Act. Specifically, the requested records must be produced within ten days. The District “head” has not provided notice that “unusual circumstances” exist which would result in an extension of the deadline by fourteen days. Govt. Code 6253(c).
I am writing to confirm my understanding of your statements to me when I came into MID yesterday afternoon, May 14, 2012, at 2:30 PM regarding availability of the documents I requested to INSPECT. General Counsel, Tim O’Laughlin, has by the attached letter, refused to produce any of the documents to date.
To restate what I heard you say yesterday afternoon:
1) There are 13 file volumes involved within my request. [ You did not mention digital files and maps that have been requested ]
2) When I met with you on April 30, 2012 regarding a very similar PRR, you informed me that AGM Walt Ward was responsible for accumulating the files, and that I conclude from your narrative that the records have been aggregated in a single location at 1231 11th Street, Modesto, CA 95354.
3) GC Tim O’Laughlin says the documents must be reviewed to identify CONFIDENTIAL material within the 13 volumes, prior to release for IMMEDIATE INSPECTION. To date, the District has not informed me that any of the requested documents are subject to “exemption” from disclosure. Such a determination was required within ten days from the date of my request. Govt. Code 6253(c).
4) GC Tim O’Laughlin, has created a scenario where he claims he is the only person that can review the documents to remove CONFIDENTIAL material within the 13 volumes, prior to release for INSPECTION.
5) There is no definition of CONFIDENTIAL within the PRA. The PRA requires the District to respond to my request within ten days, May 20, 2012, with either the records or a determination that an “exemption” in the PRA applies to specific records.
6) You stated that GC O’Laughlin is only in Modesto three (3) days PER MONTH. This is not an “unusual circumstance” as defined in Govt. Code 6253.
7) You offered no time estimate for MID’s production of the documents.
I responded to you yesterday that, based upon my understanding of the California Public Records Act intent, this lack of a time-line for production is unacceptable and fails to comply with the PRA.
Please let me know if I have misunderstood your communication of yesterday.
Self-appointed MID Board President, Tom Van Groningen, promised on January 10, 2012, to conduct business in an open and transparent manner.
I now request that the documents be made available by Monday, May 21, at 9 AM, or I intend to seek legal relief to insure that MID complies with the Act. As a public entity, MID has a fiduciary duty to comply with California law.
Date: Fri, 11 May 2012 16:06:38 -0700
To: Reed Smith <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Cc: Tim O’Laughlin email@example.com>, Allen Short <ALLENS@MID.ORG>, Linda Fischer <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Angela Cartisano AngelaC@mid.org>, Pat Caldwell-Mills <PATC@MID.ORG>, Colleen Rangel <COLLEENR@MID.ORG>, Walt Ward <WalterW@MID.ORG>
Subject: FW: Message from legal – Written Response to Reed Smith re: inspection on May 14, 2012
Sent: Friday, May 11, 2012 4:07 PM
To: Linda Fischer
Subject: Message from legal – Written Response to Reed Smith re: inspection on May 14, 2012