Larry Murray hires former State Attorney Dennis Ward to force School District to comply with Public Records requestsThursday, January 10th, 2013
Date: Wed, 9 Jan 2013 08:45:55 -0800
Subject: All The News…
You may wish to read Sean Kinney’s article in today’s Keynoter about my quest for Hotline reports. I expect the Citizen to be covering it tomorrow as Terry Schmida has called about it.
Dr. Larry Murray
Fiscal Watchdog and Citizen Advocte
Subject: RE: All The News…
Date: Wed, 9 Jan 2013 11:52:23 -0500
I doubt Dennis Ward knows those all of those guys the way you and I know them.
Former state attorney engaged to obtain reports
By SEAN KINNEY
Posted – Wednesday, January 09, 2013 10:22 AM EST
Dennis Ward, whose last day as Monroe County state attorney came on Tuesday, immediately continued to go after public entities, this time as a private attorney. Ward, whose four years as the Keys’ top prosecutor was marked by his aggressive pursuit of public corruption, is helping Larry Murray, a former member of the district’s Audit and Finance Committee, in his quest to get public records from the Monroe County School District that he says haven’t been forthcoming since October.
“I’m going to go over there and see if I can talk to them before the meeting to see if we can resolve that without Larry having to file any litigation,” Ward said before Tuesday’s School Board meeting at Coral Shores High School in Tavernier. “I know all those guys and I think they’re doing a good job. I’ll see if I can pick it up a little bit.”
Murray wants the district’s director of finance, Ken Gentile, to turn over records that grew out of a waste, fraud and abuse hotline the district launched in September 2011. Murray said he wanted Ward to come away Tuesday with a date certain when his requests would be filled. “If he is unsuccessful,” Murray said, “it is my intention to retain him to file suit to compel them to produce the documents.”
After the launch of the phone- and Internet-based tip line, operated by Oregon-based EthicsPoint and which costs $5,000 annually to run, Gentile issued detailed tracking reports but those tapered off, then stopped. The system essentially assigns the tipster a password and user name allowing him or her to answer questions detailing the complaint. That information is then compiled and transmitted to Gentile.
After its initial launch, one complaint prompted a criminal investigation into Key Largo School teacher Jose Zepeda, who was ultimately charged with battery on a 12-year-old female student. Another confirmed complaint came from Gentile’s wife Donna, who applied for a district staff position but said her application was intentionally not processed by the Human Resources Department.
Murray has repeatedly asked district attorney Dirk Smits to get Gentile to hand over the records, and repeatedly received assurances the material was forthcoming, but that hasn’t materialized.
Last week, Gentile said: “It has been difficult in keeping up with all of the reporting requirements in finance and other responsibilities. What was available was delivered. A detailed report will be run and delivered to the audit committee and Mr. Murray.”
The Citizen covered this same topic in today’s issue – www.keysnews.com. The way that article reads, the School District tried to get away with furnishing a summary of the information Larry had requested, instead of the actually information. That article points out, if Larry sues the School District and prevails, the District will have to pay Larry’s lawyer as well as its own lawyer. Also interesting in that article, Superintendent of Schools Mark Porter, himself a lawyer, is quoted as saying he doesn’t understand why the information Larry has requested has not been provided to him, and it needs to be provided.
I, too, am interested to see the Hotline information and learn why the School District/Board perhaps is not keen to have it released to the public. If the School District/Board think they will continue to get their way stonewalling Public Records Requests filed by Larry Murray, they are mistaken. I should not even have to write that given how well the School District/Board know Larry. Makes me wonder if they have walking around sense.