Valley Patriot Files Court Action For Public Documents
City Hides DiAdamo Payments – Double Dipping in School Department
By: Allan Knowles, Staff Writer – October 3, 2012
Valley Patriot publisher Tom Duggan filed court action Wednesday against The City of Lawrence, Lawrence City Attorney Charles Boddy and Secretary of State Bill Galvin’s Office for purposely refusing to turn over public documents that both Attorney Boddy and Secretary Galvin admit are public documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is legislation that mandates public agencies, state agencies and municipalities must turn over public documents within ten days when requested by the public.
Valley Patriot Newspaper Publisher Tom Duggan initially submitted a FOIA requesting public information back in February of 2012 and says he was told at the end of June that the request was “lost” by city officials.
A Pattern of Behavior
Duggan says he resubmitted his request for public documents on July 2, 2012 but received no response from Lawrence City Attorney Charlie Boddy who admitted to the Boston Herald back in May of 2010 that Freedom of Information Requests are only turned over to those who are not “enemies” of the Lantigua administration.
In a news article by Joe Dwinell called “City blames delay of records release on ‘enemies’ List:
“The Lawrence city payroll, obtained by the Herald under the state public records law after a two-month battle, was delayed while officials made sure no “enemies” were behind the request. City Attorney Charles D. Boddy Jr. said he was “sitting on and forgetting about” the Herald’s request for weeks while he studied the paper trail. Lawrence has “a lot of enemies,” he said, and must take its time probing every request. Boddy, the second highest-salaried city employee at $110,553 a year, added “we’re incompetent” when pressed as to why a request for public documents would be considered suspicious.”
City Attorney Admits it will Take only Two Hours to Produce Documents
“Finally,” Duggan says. “on the 26th of July I received a letter by City Attorney Charlie Boddy saying that he had sent the documents two weeks earlier to the wrong address. An address we never gave him.”
“The letter was dated July 18th and clearly stated that if I pay $61.81 he would turn over the public records. What’s more, his letter said that the $61.81 represented two hours of a city employee’s time. Which means all this time it would have taken the city a mere two hours to produce our documents and here we are on October 3rd and Attorney Boddy has yet to comply with state law and turn over the documents.”
Duggan says the he gave a check, in hand, to City Attorney Charlie Boddy’s administrative assistant in the amount of $61.81 on August 1st.
“The city took my check, the city cashed my check,and the city never turned over the documents” Duggan’s court records say.
According to Duggan’s court filing, The Valley Patriot has requested documents pertaining to Lawrence School Department Employees double dipping under the direction of State Receiver Jeff Riley, and a full accounting of all public dollars paid to the DiADamo Law firm which handles the city’s worker’s compensation claims.
The DiAdamo law firm also serves as landlord to the City of Lawrence’s School Department Administration Building on Essex Street,has made money as the legal council for the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District and the City’s Workforce Investment Board.
Secretary of State’s Complicity
Duggan also filed court action Wednesday against Secretary of State William Galvin, the state official legally responsible for enforcing the Freedom of Information Act.
According to court documents filed by Duggan in Lawrence Superior Court today, he alleges that he submitted multiple complaints with Secretary of State Bill Galvin’s Office and received a letter from Shawn Williams Supervisor of Records stating:
“It is important to note that while the response was eventually forwarded to you, Attorney Boddy’s response was not made in compliance with the timeliness requirements of the Public Records Law and its Access Regulations. Attorney Boddy’s response is dated July 18, 2012, sixteen days after your original request. A record custodian must comply with a public records request as soon as is practicable without unreasonable delay, and always within ten calendar days.“
“But the letter concludes with ‘I will consider this administrative appeal closed?’” Duggan said.
“So, in effect, they sent a letter to the city saying that Attorney Boddy broke the law and closed the case without giving any relief for my request for public documents that they, themselves say must be turned over.”
“It’s now October 3d, and we still don’t have the documents. What good is a law if there is no penalty for violating it.”
Duggan’s demand for injunctive relief from the court states that he is seeking penalties on Lawrence City Attorney Charles Boddy, The City of Lawrence and the Secretary of State’s Office.
“I am herebyy requesting the court to:
A) order the City of Lawrence to turn over the documents that the Secretary of State and the city admit are indeed public documents.
B) order the city to pay for filing fees and court costs
C) impose fines or penalties against the City Attorney who has refused to comply with the FOIA law
D) order the city to comply within the law for all future FOIA filings
E) Impose fine or penalty on Secretary of State Bill Galvin’s Office for refusing to hold City Attorney Charles Boddy accountable for complying with the FOIA law.
Duggan’s suit also alleges “This is an ongoing pattern of behavior by an officer of the court to purposely, and with impunity, violate FOIA laws.
State Representative Jim Lyons said that he is outraged by the behavior of the City of Lawrence and pledged to file legislation to put “serious penalties” on individuals who fail to comply with the Freedom of Information laws.
A hearing will be held on Thursday, October 11, 2012 at Lawrence Superior Court at 2pm.
BACKGROUND AND UPDATES ON THIS STORY
Freedom of Information Laws MUST be Respected - Valley Patriot Editorial
Freedom of Information: Enforce the Law - VALLEY PATRIOT EDITORIAL
Valley Patriot Files Court Action For Public Documents
Secretary of State Galvin Issues Order to Charlie Boddy on Public Records
Attorney Charles Boddy Refuses to Comply, Refuses to Take their Calls
Judge Murtagh Orders City of Lawrence to Turn over Public Documents “forthwith”
Attorney Violates Judges Murtaugh’s order to Turn Over Public Documents – City Attorney Boddy Turns Over Documents, Blacks Out Information