Introductory Note: It took approximately one-month for me to get the most politically sensitive information I requested concerning the names of the adults who served on the SMOB nominating commission for the 2016 election. I began by asking CRASC’s President for this information in late March during an exchange in the comments section of the Capital. That correspondence was then continued via email, which was passed on to CRASC’s Advisor. When those requests failed to generate the requested information, I filed a Maryland Public Information request for an expanded set of information on April 4, 2016. On April 19, 2016, the Washington Post published my op-ed on the SMOB election process without the benefit of that information because it hadn’t been provided. On April 26, 2016, the AACPS public information office partially fulfilled my Public Information Act request.

This post covers the relevant correspondence from the beginning of the email correspondence with CRASC’s President until my Public Information Act request was partially fulfilled on April 26, 2016. The original correspondence with the CRASC President can be found in an earlier post.

–J.H. Snider


From: ‘Mosier, Bob’
Sent: Tuesday, April 26, 2016 11:23 PM
To: ‘J.H. (“Jim”) Snider’
Subject: RE: Public Information Act Request

April 26, 2016

Mr. J.H. Snider
945 Old County Road
Severna Park, MD 21146

Delivered via email to snider@eLighthouse.info

Dear Mr. Snider:

This communication is in response to your request made under the Public Information Act, Annotated Code of Maryland, General Provisions Article (GP) § 4-101, et seq., seeking information regarding the Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils (CRASC).

Responses to your inquiries can be found in red following each individual item below. You requested:

  • The names and official positions of the interview panel members for each SMOB election cycle from 2012 through 2016, as specified in Article IV of CRASC’s current Election Rules or any predecessor election rules prior to the adoption of the current rules.  Please understand that I’m not seeking a copy or summary of the above cited election rules.  I’m seeking the name (e.g., John Doe) of each officially chosen panelist, including the officially designated position of that panelist (e.g., under Article IV,§2(A), CRASC President) as specified in the Election Rules.

Please see the attached document labeled “Student Board Member Interview Panelists 12-16.” With the exception of the Student Member of the Board, who holds a clearly public position, names of other students who do not hold public positions have been redacted. [Snider comment: Mosier had previously sent out numerous press releases and AACPS had otherwise published numerous documents with the names of CRASC officers, including the CRASC President.  This is a classic case of the AACPS Public Information Office making up the rules or otherwise inconsistently applying them when it suits its convenience. Since there is no penalty for such behavior, it is endemic.]

  • The written rules, if any, concerning allowing AACPS staff other than the panelists designated in the Election Rules to A) attend the interview panel’s confidential interviews with SMOB applicants, and B) be informed of the interview panel’s confidential deliberations.

Information that exists on this topic is contained in CRASC’s election rules, which you have linked above in Question 1. [Snider comment: the election rules did not, in fact, specify the requested information. In other words, Mosier appears to be acknowledging that no such document exists while implying otherwise.]

  • The document(s), if any, including the name and AACPS position of any individual who attended the interview panel’s confidential interviews from 2012 through 2016 or was otherwise informed of them by Ms. Poisson as described in 2) above.

Please see the attached document labeled “Student Board Member Interview Panelists 12-16.” With the exception of the Student Member of the Board, who holds a clearly public position, names of other students who do not hold public positions have been redacted. [Snider comment: This is the first time the AACPS PR office, the CRASC Advisor, and the CRASC President has publicly acknowledged the privileged and secret involvement of such insiders in the SMOB nominating commission process.  All previous AACPS press releases regarding members of the SMOB nominating commission mentioned the names of the other participants, including the CRASC president, but not these insiders, the presence of which was obviously politically embarrassing.]

  • The document(s), if any, that recorded the passage of the most recent amendments to Article IV in CRASC’s Election Rules, including the votes on those amendments.

Please see attached document labeled “CRASC Amendment vote”  [Snider comment: the document Bob Mosier provided did not, in fact, include the requested information.  For example, there is no recorded vote of any nature or explicit mention that the proposed election rules document was passed with due process.]

  • The minutes, if any, for all CRASC Student Board Member Elections during the past five years beginning in Spring Semester 2012.

As a body, CRASC does not adopt minutes of meetings. [Snider comment: this may help explain why no written record was provided me with information about a duly passed and recorded vote on the new election rules specifying a new SMOB nominating commission structure supposedly “passed” during Fall 2014.]

  • The minutes, if any, for all CRASC executive staff meetings during the past five years beginning in the 2011-2012 school year.

As a body, CRASC does not adopt minutes of meetings.

Pursuant to GPA §4-362, in the event you disagree with any determination regarding this Maryland Public Information Act request you may seek judicial review by filing a complaint with the Circuit Court in Anne Arundel County.

Sincerely,

Bob Mosier
Chief Communications Officer
Anne Arundel County Public Schools
Phone: 410-222-5312
Fax: 410-222-5628
Web: www.aacps.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/aacps
Twitter: @AACountySchools


April 14, 2016—Follow-up call to Bob Mosier

Bob Mosier refused to answer my query.  Said he was too busy.  Didn’t care that I planned to publish an article related to the subject of my Public Information Act request.


April 14, 2016–Follow-up Call to Aimee Poisson, AACPS CRASC Advisor
(This call was made after I received no response to my queries on April 12.)

Snider: You invited me to get in touch with you with my questions, so I’m doing so.  What happened at the CRASC Executive Committee meeting last night?  Did they vote on putting any of the documents I suggested on the CRASC website?

Poisson: No.  We discussed you but not whether to post those items on the CRASC website.

Snider: What about me did you discuss?

Poisson: Why you are doing this.

Snider: Who was on the SMOB interview panel this year?

Poisson: The names of the students on the panel may be confidential information.  We’re checking with our lawyers right now.

Snider: Then who were the adults on the panel?

Poisson: I cannot tell you.  I’ve provided that information to Bob Mosier, and he can provide you with any information he chooses to.  We have decided to treat you as a reporter, and all requests from reporters must go through Bob Mosier.

Snider: When were the current election rules passed?

Poisson: At the November 2014 General Assembly.

Snider: When were they posted online?  They were not posted prior to the SMOB election in 2015.

Poisson: After CRASC’s new website was created. (After a gap of some years, CRASC relaunched a website on November 3, 2015.)

Snider: Are the three documents on the CRASC website the most current version of CRASC’s constitution, bylaws, and election rules?

Poisson: Yes.

Poisson, as had the CRASC President, invited me to attend the SMOB election tomorrow to see the excellent job the students were doing.  I replied that my attendance would probably depend on whether Bob Mosier provided me the information I sought.  I followed up this call with a call to Bob Mosier.


From: ‘J.H. (“Jim”) Snider’
Sent: Tuesday, April 12, 2016 6:13 PM
To: ‘baby scott’ <shcoltsrule@gmail.com>
Cc: ‘Poisson, Aimee L’ <APOISSON@AACPS.org>; ‘alexander.r.mcgrath@gmail.com’ <alexander.r.mcgrath@gmail.com>
Subject: RE: Public Information Act Request

Dear Scott:

At tomorrow’s CRASC executive staff meeting, I would encourage you to distribute both a copy of this email and the below Public Information Act request, then have the staff vote on each item to determine which items you want to publicly post on the CRASC website.  In my opinion, all the items I requested should be publicly available on your website, and no member of the public should ever be forced to request it via either the hellish process of an AACPS Public Information Act request or begging it from CRASC’s staff or advisor.  Even if you don’t want the public to have access to this information (a policy position I would consider most unfortunate), CRASC’s executive staff should have access to it without needing to undertake the intimidating process of either making an AACPS Public Information Act request or asking the CRASC advisor.

Please let me know 1) whether you decide to share a copy of my Public Information Act request with the executive staff and, 2) if so, whether the executive staff votes to make any of the items it requests public.  I would encourage you to publicly post the information you choose to make public prior to the CRASC elections on April 15, 2016.  It has now been two weeks since I first asked you for the names of the individuals on the interview panel.

Aimee, since you will undoubtedly be involved in any decision about what information should be made public and how it should be made public, I would welcome your response, too.  You invited me to write to you with my queries, and I’m doing so now, just as I did indirectly with my queries via Scott and directly via my Public Information Act request.  From my perspective, I should never have been forced to seek basic electoral information via a Public Information Act request.

Alex, I’m adding you to this correspondence because, as one of CRASC’s top two officers, I thought you should be involved in the decision making process.

Sincerely,

J.H. Snider, Editor
eLighthouse.info


From: ‘J.H. (“Jim”) Snider’
Sent: Monday, April 04, 2016 3:41 PM
To: ‘Mosier, Bob’; ‘Poisson, Aimee L’
Subject: Public Information Act Request

Dear Mr. Mosier and Ms. Poisson:

Under the Maryland Public Information Act, State Government Article (SG) §§ 10-611, et seq., I request the following information held by Aimee Poisson, CRASC Advisor and Administrator for Student Leadership Development:

  • The names and official positions of the interview panel members for each SMOB election cycle from 2012 through 2016, as specified in Article IV of CRASC’s current Election Rules or any predecessor election rules prior to the adoption of the current rules.  Please understand that I’m not seeking a copy or summary of the above cited election rules.  I’m seeking the name (e.g., John Doe) of each officially chosen panelist, including the officially designated position of that panelist (e.g., under Article IV,§2(A), CRASC President) as specified in the Election Rules.
  • The written rules, if any, concerning allowing AACPS staff other than the panelists designated in the Election Rules to A) attend the interview panel’s confidential interviews with SMOB applicants, and B) be informed of the interview panel’s confidential deliberations.
  • The document(s), if any, including the name and AACPS position of any individual who attended the interview panel’s confidential interviews from 2012 through 2016 or was otherwise informed of them by Ms. Poisson as described in 2) above.
  • The document(s), if any, that recorded the passage of the most recent amendments to Article IV in CRASC’s Election Rules, including the votes on those amendments.
  • The minutes, if any, for all CRASC Student Board Member Elections during the past five years beginning in Spring Semester 2012.
  • The minutes, if any, for all CRASC executive staff meetings during the past five years beginning in the 2011-2012 school year.

As I understand it, all of the information I am requesting is public information.  Of course, there are no more important public documents in a democratic system of government than those related to the integrity of elections for public office.

Please send me the requested files as an email attachment.

If Ms. Poisson claims that locating and emailing me all the above documents will take more than 2 hours, please itemize the cost in time and money of providing each of 1) through 6) above after first sending me the first two hours’ worth of documents starting with 1) and moving sequentially down to 6).  I should note that all of these documents should already be available on CRASC’s public website, and it would be in the public interest to post them there.

If you deny any part of this request, please cite each specific Public Information Act exemption that justifies your denial of the information.

Your response within the 10 calendar days now required by the Public Information Act would be appreciated.

Sincerely,

J.H. Snider, Editor
eLighthouse.info


From: ‘J.H. (“Jim”) Snider’
Sent: Sunday, April 03, 2016 11:53 AM
To: ‘baby scott (shcoltsrule@gmail.com)’ <shcoltsrule@gmail.com>
Subject: RE: smob question

Dear Baby Scott (I’m using the name on the email address CRASC supervisor Aimee Poisson used for you in her two emails to me):

Shall I infer from the two emails Aimee sent me last night and cc’d you that you don’t intend to answer my questions?  If that’s your intent, please say so directly so that you don’t waste my time.

If you’re going to forward or bcc: to Aimee our correspondence, I would suggest that it’s appropriate protocol to do so directly and transparently. And if Aimee drafts or edits your responses, I would also suggest acknowledging her role in doing so (that includes when she provides the same service for other CRASC officers).  In any case, thank you for identifying the unattributed source of your information.

I asked you the questions rather than Aimee because you are CRASC’s president and have repeatedly stated in public that you and CRASC leaders more generally are independent of AACPS staff and should be given the responsibility of adults.  I am happy to treat you as an adult in your role as CRASC’s president, but if you want me to treat you as a kid I’d be happy to do that, too.  When I seek information from the School Board Nominating Commission, I go to its official chair.  It was my impression that you wanted CRASC to be shown the same respect.

Sincerely,

J.H. (“Jim”) Snider, Editor
eLighthouse.info


From: ‘Poisson, Aimee L’
Sent: Saturday, April 02, 2016 11:49 PM
To: ‘J.H. (“Jim”) Snider’
Cc: baby scott (shcoltsrule@gmail.com) <shcoltsrule@gmail.com>
Subject: smob question

Hello Again,

I’ve just read through some forwarded emails and found your question.

You are correct about the newest revisions to the election rules. The exec staff can vote out a member of election panel. This clause was put in place to eliminate any issues associated with a conflict of interest. For example, if the CRASC president’s younger sibling was interviewing, the president clearly couldn’t sit on the panel. I don’t believe that the previous rules allowed the kids to replace members of the panel. This year conflicts were discussed because so many of the students are close friends, but the kids voted not to swap out any members of the panel.

I appreciate your recommendations and I’ll share them with the students.

Aimee Poisson
Administrator for Student Leadership Development
CRASC Advisor
Anne Arundel County Public Schools

 


From: ‘Poisson, Aimee L’
Sent: Saturday, April 02, 2016 10:54 PM
To: ‘J.H. (“Jim”) Snider’
Cc: ‘baby scott’
Subject: smob questions

Hello Jim,

I understand that you have some questions about the CRASC elections rules. Our president, Scott Howarth has asked me to assist you. What can I do for you?

Aimee Poisson
Administrator for Student Leadership Development
CRASC Advisor
Anne Arundel County Public Schools

 


From: ‘J.H. (“Jim”) Snider’
Sent: Saturday, April 02, 2016 10:04 PM
To: ‘Scott Howarth’
Subject: RE: the SMOB interview panel

Scott—

Thank you for clarifying that CRASC’s current election rules don’t have any written ethical guidelines regarding conflicts of interest.

I remain confused about CRASC’s new election rules.  I thought they allowed the CRASC executive committee to overturn the panel recommendations with a 2/3 vote.  But based on what you’ve written, CRASC has veto power over interview panel nominees. I don’t understand how that would work.  For example, could the CRASC executive committee vote not to appoint the individuals the superintendent, school board, and CRASC advisor have appointed to the interview panel?  If so, has any such appointment ever been overturned?

Please let me know the name of the individual who gave you the Amanda Streeter and Jillian Buck conflict of interest story.  That’s quite different than the account Amanda’s dad proferred to me, and no record on your website supports the account you proffer.  I should add that your comment is also a Non sequitur, partly because it does not relate to the process then in existence or any ethical principle that, to my knowledge, has ever been consistently or publicly applied to CRASC’s interview panel members or insider observers.

By the middle of next week, I will publish on eLighthouse.info the information you do or don’t provide me regarding the interview panel members and observers.  As you know, I’ve provided exhaustive coverage of the adult process for nominating candidates to the Board of Education.  And although I have no intention of doing something similarly comprehensive for the comparable student process, I do want to include some basic information on eLighthouse.info.  I recognize that you consider the names of the interview panel members and observers to be politically sensitive information and that you’d prefer not to provide that information to me.  But I believe that information is information that should be public, and I hope you will provide it to me without further delay.  Ideally, that information should be posted on the CRASC website (and in an easily accessible place).  I should mention again that it would be inconceivable and illegal for the SBNC not to publicly disclose the names of its interview panel members (and it has no insider observers because candidate testimony and voting on candidates is done in public).

Finally, copying the procedures adopted for the panel that nominates adults to the school board, I would encourage you at your April 15, 2016 public meeting to accept public comments and to webcast and archive the proceedings.  There are many reasons to have a decent public record of the CRASC elections.  One is that there have been irregularities in the past and without a video record it is essentially impossible to have any accountability for such irregularities.  For examples of the types of irregularities that occur even for the adult nominating panel, see eLighthouse.info (e.g., my March 14, 2016 testimony proposing SBNC procedural reforms).

Sincerely,

J.H. (“Jim”) Snider, Editor
eLighthouse.info


From: ‘Scott Howarth’
Sent: Saturday, April 02, 2016 11:32 AM
To: ‘J.H. (“Jim”) Snider’
Subject: Re: the SMOB interview panel

Mr. Snider,

I’m curious as to why you are interested in obtaining this information and what you plan to do with it if I make that available. [Snider note: This is the first time Scott has acknowledged that the information I have repeatedly sought about interview panel attendees and that he pretended to provide me in our previous Capital comments correspondence is politically sensitive.]

In regards to your conflict of interest question. That is dealt with on a case by case basis and is discussed during the meeting where we approve the election panel. In the election rules the panel must be approved by 2/3 of the voting members.

Question has been brought up about conflict of interest many times in the past. For example for your son Solon’s interview, Amanda Streeter and Jillian Buck were on the panel but also friends with Solon. This could have been seen as a conflict of interest but was discussed and decided that they could maintain an unbiased position on the panel.

As I previously stated in my comments there are no observers for interviews. Only the people on the panel and the nominee are in the room for the interview. [Snider note: this repeated the blatantly incorrect information provided in the Capital comments.]

Sincerely,

J.H. (“Jim”) Snider, Editor
eLighthouse.info


From: ‘J.H. (“Jim”) Snider’
Sent: Saturday, April 02, 2016 10:54 AM
To: ‘shcoltsrule@gmail.com’ <shcoltsrule@gmail.com>
Subject: the SMOB interview panel

Scott,

Thank you for engaging in a conversation with me.

Please let me know the names of the specific individuals for each of the last five SMOB election cycles (2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012) who were 1) on the SMOB interview panel and 2) observers in the room when the interviews took place.  I’m not interested in their roles (that information is included in the election rules); I’m interested in the names of the specific individuals.  That shouldn’t be confidential information.  And from what I understand you have convenient access to it (each year’s information should already be printed on a piece of paper, what for a conventional public body would be called “minutes”), so it shouldn’t take you more than a few days to fulfill this request.

If I understand you correctly, the panels’ votes continue to be confidential information.  If I’m wrong about that, please let me know.

Please also let me know to what written ethics guidelines the election rules refer when they state that the CRASC executive member on the interview panel cannot have a “conflict of interest.”  Also, who exactly determines whether the CRASC executive member has a “conflict of interest.” [Snider note: This question was ignored, and I found no such document.]

Sincerely,

J.H. (“Jim”) Snider, Editor
eLighthouse.info