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 13 SUITS FILED AGAINST NEWPORT NEWS AIRPORT OFFICIALS AND CITY CLERK

Freedom of Information [Project FOIA]

13 SUITS FILED AGAINST NEWPORT NEWS AIRPORT OFFICIALS AND CITY CLERK

VIRGINIA BEACH (April 24, 2007) - - 13 suits have been filed in Virginia Beach General District Court Tuesday against officials of the Peninsula Airport Commission, its lawyer and Newport News City Clerk Mabel Washington for refusal to comply with requests under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act. (See complete documents)

The suits were filed by Helpcom.net, owned by noted legal researcher David Lindsey. The suits filed Tuesday are part of as many as more than 100 FOIA suits that are expected to be filed in the coming days.

Helpcom has been seeking documents on the economic interests and financial disclosure statements of members of the Peninsula Airport 
Commission - documents that are required to be filed by public officials.

Virginia law also requires that the clerk and members of the commission forward and file the same documents with the Library of Virginia.

Helpcom filed its first request for information under the state Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) back in September, 2006. Other requests were filed as recently as last month.

Defendants listed in Tuesday's filings were: Washington; Herbert H. Bateman Jr., the airport's lawyer; PAC commissioners Aubrey H. Fitzgerald, Edgar F. Maroney, and LaDonna Williams, wife of State Sen. Marty Williams; Mark S. Falin, airport manager; and Airport Executive Director James R. Smith.

Washington is named in only 1 complaint for failure to provide requested information filed March 14 requesting 'economic inrterest/financial disclosure statements of members of the PAC.

Bateman is named in 2 complaints: One for not responding to an October 25, 2006 FOIA request for PAC documents "...forwarded or which should have been forwarded to the Library of Virginia..."; and "...for failing to respond to a FOIA request for 8 documents showing PAC members' economic interests...".

Commissioner Fitzgerald, named in 2 complaints, for failing to respond to an October 25, 2006 request for documents "...that were forwarded or should have been forwarded to to the Library of Virginia..."; and failure to respond to an October 30, 2006 request for 8 documents showing PAC members' economic interests.

Commissioner Maroney, named in 2 complaints, for failing to respond to an October 25, 2006 request for documents "...that were forwarded or should have been forwarded to to the Library of Virginia..."; and failure to respond to an October 30, 2006 request for 8 documents showing PAC members' economic interests.

Commissioner Williams, named in 2 complaints, for failing to respond to an October 25, 2006 request for documents "...that were forwarded or should have been forwarded to to the Library of Virginia..."; and failure to respond to an October 30, 2006 request for 8 documents showing PAC members' economic interests.

Airport Manager Falin, named in 2 complaints, for failing to respond to an October 25, 2006 request for documents "...that were forwarded or should have been forwarded to to the Library of Virginia..."; and failure to respond to an October 21, 2006 request for 8 documents showing PAC members' economic interests.

Executive Director Smith, named in 2 complaints, for failing to respond to an October 25, 2006 request for documents that should have been forwarded to the state library and a September 14, 2006 request for information on PAC members' economic interests.

Lindsey said none of those named in Thursday's suits were cooperative. He said he had been patient, but never received any information requested leading him to conclude that the defendants violated state law by never filing the documents originally.

Lindsay said that one official tried to charge him exhorbiant rates for information, $30 in one case for information a state office provided for $3.

In Washington's case, although the law doesn't allow it, she offered to provide the documents requested, but only after 'whiting out' the pertinent information. Lindsey said he offer was not in compliance with the FOIA and was unacceptable to him.

The airport for years has been operated as a private 'good ole boys' club, ignoring laws, making up its own, and following its own rules and regulations.

 





 
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· More about Freedom of Information [Project FOIA]
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Most read story about Freedom of Information [Project FOIA]:
UARF's Josh Thompson's Letter to Virginia Beach Mayor Sessoms, Do you want UARF


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Associated Topics

Civil  RightsGeneral Counsel and Senior Law FellowsFreedom of Information [Project FOIA]Public  Watch  Dog





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