Buffalo School Board Election Finances: A Reporter’s Notebook
by Buck Quigley - posted 11:05 am, April 24, 2009
Here’s the letter from BPS Assistant Legal Counsel Kelly Gale Eisenried, faxed to Artvoice Wednesday afternoon, explaining why they wouldn’t immediately release public documents pertaining to the school board election that’s now just 11 days away. The letter offered me the opportunity to “examine” the records, so Thursday morning I went to City Hall, where Chief of Staff James Kane handed me a slim folder of public documents. I was allowed to look, but not to have copies.
Here are the notes I took. There is no standard form for the candidates to fill out, so the info is pretty hodgepodge. No big surprises. Chris Jacobs has raised and spent the most—over $13,000 spent—while challenger John Licata lists no contributions, putting him $131.59 in the hole. The other incumbents, Catherine Collins and Florence Johnson join Jacobs at the head of the pack, money-wise. All these figures are expanding as we speak, and the grand totals won’t be known until April 30. Then there’s another disclosure date after the election is over.
I would have liked to supply the voting public with more legible information, but both Eisenried and schools General Counsel Michael J. Looby have explained that they need time to scour the documents for sensitive information like Social Security numbers before the unwashed masses can view them.
It took me about forty minutes to go through and take notes. I didn’t see any Social Security numbers anywhere, but what do I know? I’m not a lawyer. Just because I’m a nice guy, I redacted the phone numbers I jotted down in my notes.
But I’m not so nice that I’d just walk away from this violation of our right to access public information without a fight. Click here to read the demand for access that was dropped off at city hall this morning.