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First things . . . Richard Falknor on 27 Jun 2011 06:05 pm

Outrage Timeline: Release of the SB167 Petition Names

SCROLL DOWN FOR UPDATES: CASA, MIKE HOUGH, JIM SIMPSON!

As many of our Maryland readers know and as we have written – – the Board of Elections has already released SB167 petition signers and allied information.

This morning we asked Maryland state elections administrator Linda Lamone three questions:

(1) To whom (that is, everyone) the Board of Elections sent the disk that delegate Smigiel describes;

(2) When the Board sent that disk;

(3) Whether the Board members voted on any such action, and, if so, the record of that vote.

Mrs. Lamone promptly replied – -

“Maryland’s Public Information Act (‘PIA’), Title 10, Subtitle 6, Part III of the State Government Article, grants the public a broad right of access to records that are in the possession of State and local government agencies.  It has been a part of the Maryland Code since 1970.  Under the PIA, an agency must provide public information, with some exception, to persons who make a request for it.  The petition pages have always been treated as subject to the PIA and therefore provided to anyone who asks to review them.

As a result, the staff here at the State Board of Elections provided the information to the following people but only after receiving a request from each of them:

Michael D. Smigiel, Sr. (mailed on 6/16/2011)

Neil C. Parrott (mailed on 6/16//2011)

Joseph E. Sandler (mailed on 6/10/2011)

Pat McDonough (mailed 6/27/2011).” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

We asked her to re-check the mailing dates with her staff, and she noted that

“Sandler’s request was mailed 6/16 not 6/10.”

Delegate Neil Parrott, the very effective “trail boss” of this petition to referendum, told Blue Ridge Forum this afternoon that both he and delegate Michael Smigiel did not receive their disks until Saturday, June 25. Parrott believes Casa de Maryland‘s representative, presumably Joseph E. Sandler,  picked up their disk at the Board of Elections on June 23.

We received no response from Mrs. Lamone on the matter of the Board’s participation in the decision to release the names at this time.

One source close to the process told Blue Ridge Forum today that “the members of the Appointed Five Member Board were not told about the petitions or asked to vote.”

The Danger of Intimidation Including Economic Loss

The core issue here?

It was reckless, and endangers the petition-to-referendum process to release names and allied data of petition signers until the process is completed this Thursday midnight.

We would have thought that the entire Board would have participated in the decision to release, and would at least have explored denying inspection of the signatures temporarily under the authority of 10-619 below, or seeking administrative discretion under some other authority to delay until midnight June 30.

“10–619. Temporary Denials
(a) Substantial Inquiry to Public Interest
Whenever this Part III of this subtitle
authorizes inspection of a public record but
the official custodian believes that inspection
would cause substantial injury to the public
interest, the official custodian may deny
inspection temporarily.

(b) Court Petition
(1) Within 10 working days after the
denial, the official custodian shall petition a
court to order permitting the continued denial
of inspection.
(2) The petition shall be filed with the
circuit court for the county where:
(i) the public record is located; or
(ii) the principal place of business
of the official custodian is located.
(3) The petition shall be served on the
applicant, as provided in the Maryland Rules.
(c) Right of Applicant
The applicant is entitled to appear and
to be heard on the petition.
(d) Court Order
If, after the hearing, the court finds that
inspection of the public record would cause
substantial injury to the public interest, the
court may pass an appropriate order permitting
the continued denial of inspection.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)

Jim Simpson gives us his perspective (DC Independent Examiner) of what Maryland petition signature-gathers have been up against – -

“Almost from the beginning, CASA activists and others have harassed petitioners wherever they set up. Here is a partial list of their tactics:

  • They stand between petitioners and citizens trying to sign petitions and block access to the signing table
  • They plead with signers not to sign
  • They stand around and glower threateningly
  • They scream racist and other obscene epithets in petitioners’ faces
  • One petitioner was reportedly spat at
  • $12/hour rent-a-thugs from a group called ‘Field Works’ shadow petitioners and report their locations
  • They hand out “Think Before You Ink” flyers with misleading information about the petition

Saturday, however, took the cake. CASA activists at a number of locations called police on the petitioners, who were legally there collecting signatures. The police threw the petitioners out. As one related:

We were forced to leave the Essex MVA (Motor Vehicles) today. A Latina woman stood for a long while watching us and looked angry. Then she got on the phone and shortly after police came and told us to leave immediately. It’s absolutely Orwell’s 1984.”

Our bottom line: with all due respect to some hard-working petition organizers who urge “calling off the dogs” on the Board of Elections, now is the time to protest to all levels of the Annapolis Establishment about an action that could result in chilling voter participation in both present and future Maryland petitions to referendum.

Highlighting the Board’s shamefully-timed action lets ordinary Marylanders see what a serious threat they face from the Hard Left Network which sees Maryland as one of its national sanctuaries.

* * * * *

UPDATE JUNE 28! Pamela Wood writes (Hometown Annapolis) via Potomac Tea Party Report ) “DREAM petition signatures go public” reporting: “But Joseph Sandler, a Washington-based attorney for Casa de Maryland, said that nothing of the sort is planned. Sandler said his client – just like the petition organizers – wants to see how elections officials decided which signatures were valid and which ones weren’t. ‘The purpose is to review the decisions made by the board and determine if those were made appropriately … There’s no way in the world that we would ever use the names of people who signed the petition for any other purpose than checking if they validly signed the petition,’ Sandler said. The Board of Elections sent disks with information on petition signers to Sandler and to Dels. Michael Smigiel Sr., R-Cecil; Neil Parrott, R-Washington County; and Pat McDonough, R-Baltimore County, after they requested it, said Lamone, the elections administrator.”

UPDATE JUNE 28! Meg Tully of the Frederick News Post reports that even delegate Michael Hough’s signature was rejected after he had signed the petition to put SB167 – – in-state tuition for illegal aliens – – on the November 2012 general elections ballot: “Hough found out on Monday that his signature on the petition was rejected by state elections officials due to a ‘circulator issue’ — a problem with how the person who collected his signature filled out the page.”

ADD-ON JUNE 27!
Jim Simpson tells“What to do about rejected DREAM Act repeal petitions” (DC Independent Examiner).

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