NEW ROCHELLE, NY -- Jeffrey Kehl, the attorney for the City School District of New Rochelle, has threatened legal action against Talk of the Sound after initiating an exchange regarding a Freedom of Information request filed by Talk of the Sound last week.
The FOIL request was made as part of a follow up on a previous FOIL request last winter which resulted in the revelation that despite repeated claims to the contrary, the District never prepared and signed a $3.5 million contract with Aramark. The repeated false statements by John Quinn regarding the Aramark contract played by a central role in the firing of the now-former-Assistant Superintendent for Business & Administration a month ago.
As counsel for the District, Kehl would reasonably be expected to have played a role in finalizing the multi-million dollar, multi-year contract, raising questions about his direct involvement in efforts to prevent public disclosure of Aramark documents.
This past March -- after five years of stonewalling by Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak, Assistant Superintendent for Business & Administration John Quinn and District's Counsel Jeffrey Kehl -- I received an email from Interim Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Korostoff concerning my efforts to obtain public records under the New York State Freedom of Information Law ("FOIL") which states:
I shared our archive file containing correspondences on your 2009 FOIL requests with David Lacher, and we both fully agreed with your rationale that the District never provided you with the breakdown of fees sought. Therefore, from this date forward, the District will process and respond to your FOIL requests and any total amount said to be due for work on your previous requests is canceled. I have also notified Liz Saraiva that she has once again been designated as the recipient for all FOIL requests made to our district.
At the time I was content not to make a big deal of it and simply end what had been a running dispute over the past five years. My primary concern was to simply get records rather than take a victory lap.
Based on a recent email exchange, Mr. Kehl appears intent on continuing the practice of interfering or obstructing my FOIL requests and so I have no choice to but to provide context by explaining what took place last winter.
I first began attending school board meetings in June 2008 after encountering a tremendous amount of unethical and often illegal conduct by school officials and staff including failure to follow state and federal law for disabled students, manufacturing phony records, lying, perjury, violations of HIPPA, FERPA and more.
The District administration and school board went to great lengths to harass and threaten me and my family. Long-time readers know the story and I am not going to recount it here (Google the site for more).
As part of that effort, going back to December 2008, the District has taken various steps to obstruct my efforts to obtain public records under FOIL. These include ignoring my FOIL requests from December 2008 to March 2009 then illegally aggregating my requests to artificially inflate the costs, then fabricating hours worked and generating phony invoices for hundreds of dollar for records that should have been provided at little or no charge. Under New York State law, a FOIL requestor is entitled to a detailed invoice of charges. The District repeatedly refused to provide such a detailed invoice, and as I was unwilling to pay hundreds of dollars for a vague and improperly documented invoice I was never provided the records. The District then argued for years that I was not entitled to any records under FOIL in perpetuity. For those not familiar with FOIL, let me note that even if it were true that I failed to pay a valid invoice for one set of records I cannot be denied my right to FOIL for other records.
Egged on by specious legal arguments from Mr. Kehl, the District made all manner of additional false claims and absurd legal arguments and repeated these false claims for five years, each time to justify not producing public records under perfectly valid FOIL requests.
Anyone familiar with Talk of the Sound and my reporting knows that the District had good reason to fear my obtaining public records because I was using them to report significant corruption on their watch.
Shortly after Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak was fired and replaced by Interim Superintendent Dr. Jeffrey Korostoff, I made a new "test" FOIL request to see if the new guard (Korostoff, and new Board President David Lacher) might result in a new outcome.
This time the District claimed that I should have made a better request for a detailed invoice at the time and then filed an Article 78 lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court within 4 months of my 2009 dispute. And since I did not do that they had the right to permanently bar me from obtaining public records under FOIL. Utter nonsense.
The issue is not that I failed to file an Article 78 within 4 months or that I did not sufficiently request a detailed invoice prior to that. At that point - in Spring 2009 it had already been YEARS of a wide range of tactics by the District to discourage me from advocating for my son, pressing my case to the board, and, failing that, launching Talk of the Sound to expose the lies and corruption that I knew to exist in the District (having experienced it first hand).
My efforts over the past 9 years, going back to 2005 with my son, and back 6 years, going back to the launch of Talk of the Sound in 2008, are not about fixing what went wrong with my son (he has graduated COLLEGE let alone high school) but exposing and stopping what I know to be a culture within the district to kick the can down the road with parents like me, waiting for kids to age out of the school system. Prior to Talk of the Sound, folks in New Rochelle had nowhere to turn when they ran into “the machine” that grinds up people who try to fight back. Now they have me. And so when a parent has a complaint about Jose Martinez and the district and the police are not responding they can come to me; when someone has a complaint about Fred Smith, they can come to me, when someone has a complaint about fraud in the DPW, they can come to me. Unless you have been in that position you cannot understand the sense of responsibility for the public welfare that my role has come to entail.
For better or worse, people count on my to stand up duke it out with the powers that be.
The FOIL issue is about standing up for what is right no matter how long it takes and no matter how many times people imagine that I am going to go away or drop an issue. I am Irish; I never drop an issue. I may set some issue aside for a while but I will always come back to it.
In 2010, I discussed this matter with Lacher who admitted that denying my FOIL requests was part of a set of "consequences" intend to punish for me for being "provocative" and "disruptive" and making "life miserable" for the District but that now I was better behaved so “all those consequences should go away”. This was essentially an admission by a school board member that the District had denied my FOIL requests as part of a strategy to punish me for being critical of the District. This is hardly the first time for this sort of retaliation.
The Court of Appeals, in 1984, held that when records are accessible under the FOIL, they must be made equally available to any person, without regard to one’s status or interest. See Farbman v. NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation, 62 NY 2d 75 (1984).
In short, an agency like the City School District of New Rochelle must make records "equally available to any person, without regard to one’s status or interest”.
It does not matter what my motivations were — real or imagined — my right under the law to public records is absolute regardless of whether board members or the Superintendent or Jeff Kehl like me or find my requests a nuisance or burdensome or expensive or that I am being provocative or whatever else. Charles Manson and Mark David Chapman and Jose Martinez have a right to FOIL for records in New Rochelle but according to the District Robert Cox did not.
That is what this entire issue about — the board at the time, with Kehl and Organisciak — scheming for ways to thwart my efforts to report on corruption on their watch.
Lacher was right in that I first showed up at board meetings angry and provocative. What I did not know then but know now is that for the three years prior I had dealing with the District under the auspices of then-Assistant Superintendent Fred Smith — a convicted felon with an extensive criminal history. I would contend that Smith was a sociopath and so my experience, being forced to turn to a career criminal for justice for my child, might give a person a jaundiced view of the rest of the organization.
What Organisciak, Kehl and the board did from day one was to back Fred Smith. In other words, they backed a convicted felon, a thief, a liar, a fraud, a peeping tom, a freak, over a parent seeking to advocate for their developmentally disabled child.
Whether anyone in New Rochelle knew that Smith was a criminal at the time, they know it know and so they certainly know that my hostility towards the district at that time was not some personal quirk of mine but based on the well-founded frustration of having to deal regularly with a criminal.
The last meaningful exchange I had on this issue from the District prior to this year involved then-Board President Chrisanne Petrone in a letter quite obviously prepared by Jeffrey Kehl.
I made another "test" FOIL request in February 2012. I received the standard response from Assistant Superintendent for Business & Administration John Quinn claiming that I had not paid the invoice I owed and therefore they did not have to ever provide records to me.
Feb 17, 2012 at 4:27 PM, John Quinn
Attached please find foil response.
I wrote back that evening.
On Fri, Feb 17, 2012 at 6:46 PM, Robert Cox
I will reiterate for about the 50th time since 2009 that you have NEVER submitted to me a valid invoice so to continue to claim that I have failed to pay such invoices is false and misleading.
I have asked numerous times for you to provide such invoices and for reasons that are obvious -- no such invoices exist -- you both refuse to produce the invoices and refuse to comply with my FOIL requests claiming that I did not pay some nonexistent invoices.
It cannot be both.
It cannot be that I both refused to pay an invoice and that you refuse to produce an invoice for me to pay.
If you wish to continue to make these claims then why have you repeatedly refused to produce the invoice you claim I have refused to pay?
For board members who were not on the board in 2008-2009, I will here make them aware that between November 2008 and March 2009 I made four unique and unrelated FOIL requests. Under the NYS FOIL Law, a state agency like the City School District of New Rochelle, has five days to acknowledge receipt of a FOIL request. The district failed to respond to any of these FOIL requests, ever. In March 2009, I filed an appeal to Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak based on a "constructive denial" of my requests. The head of agency has 10 days to respond to an appeal which Mr. Organisciak failed to do. I then raised the matter to the board during a public meeting at which point Mr. Organisciak stated that a response was forthcoming.
Several days later I received a letter stating an estimated cost to comply with my request without any meaningful details.
There were at least two significant problems with the district's "estimate".
First, the district aggregated multiple requests into a single request. This is not permitted under New York State law. Each request must be treated separately.
Second, the district did not explain AT ALL how the number of hours of work described in the letter was being calculated.
The FOIL requests I had made included a request for copies of audio recordings. I have communicated with the New York State Committee on Open Government about this and confirmed my understanding that if the district uses a machine to make duplicate copies of an audio tape they may only charge for the cost of the audio cassette and the time required to push play/record to begin the duplication process, time to flip the cassette, if necessary, and the time to push play/record for the other side of the tape. In other words, they may only charge for actual work done by a person not "work" done by a machine. The district may not charge for the entire time the machine is running, unattended, in record/play mode. I should had been charged for a minute or two per tape. Given the number of hours that district claims it took to comply with my requests, it appears highly likely that the district may have charged me based on the length of the tape not how long an employee spent doing work.
I have no way of knowing for sure because when I requested an explanation of how the hours were determined I received a letter back which was not remotely responsive to my request. In fact, I would describe it as a sarcastic response. Instead of an explanation of which hours were allocated to which records, I received a list of days of the week and a certain number of hours for each day.
Ever since that time, Spring 2009, I have been requesting the same thing over and over again -- a detailed invoice that explains that for Record A I was charged X and for Record B I was charged Y. By law, I am entitled to know what I am being charged for each record.
I would ask board members to consider whether you would pay an invoice for work on your car which simply stated "fixed engine - $2,000". I believe you would, like me, insist on a detailed invoice that showed the cost of the various parts and the labor involved in each repair. Imagine how you would feel if the mechanic refused to provide any further explanation and held your car hostage, demanding you pay the $2,000 based on the "fixed engine" invoice. How is that mechanic any different than Mr. Quinn? My right to access public records under FOIL is being held hostage by Mr. Quinn (granted we all know who is actually behind this and why).
By this email, I am once again making the same request, I want a proper set of invoices, one for each unique FOIL request made between November 2008 and March 2009. Each invoice should list a charge associated with each record and an explanation as to the basis of that charge.
Under New York State Law, I can only be charged for labor if the time to produce a record exceeds 2 hours. Further, that if I make a request via email that all communications must take place via email and that any records that exists in electronic form must be delivered via email as attachments so that there should be no charge related to the medium for delivering such records. I would note that unlike Mr. Quinn's email today, the district did not follow this law in 2008-09 in responding to my emails.
I have maintained since 2009 that there is no way that the actual work done by a district employee could have amounted to the hours claimed, even more so when the work was broken down into multiple parts and matched against specific, unique records requests. It is my belief that the district intentionally overstated the amount of hours of work done in order in dramatically inflate the cost of the records as a way to discourage me from making FOIL requests and effectively denying me access to public records -- all part of a broader campaign to deny my rights under New York State's "sunshine" laws.
To Mr. Quinn I would say this: Please provide as an email attachment a set of valid invoices or provide me a copy of the retreat agenda.
To the board member copied on this email I would say this: If Mr. Quinn will produce an actual set of valid invoices pursuant to my FOIL requests from 2008-09, I will pay them. If Mr. Quinn continues to refuse to produce an actual set of valid invoices pursuant to my FOIL requests from 2008-09, I would ask that you direct him to cease and desist with making claims that I am not entitled to obtain public records under FOIL and immediately comply with the law by providing me the retreat agenda I was directed by Mrs. Petrone to request last month. If we can agree on this, I would waive all my previous requests in the spirit of resolving this and moving on.
On a final note, the case Mr. Quinn repeatedly cites involves a man in Eastchester who made a massive FOIL request for many thousands of pages which involved large photocopying fees. Before the work was begun, the man was given the opportunity to inspect all of the records to be copied and made a written agreement with the district stating that he would pay all of the photocopying costs. While the work was ongoing the man suddenly declared he would not pay the cost of the photocopying as agreed. I was never given an opportunity to inspect any records beforehand, I never signed any agreement, I have never seen or inspected copies of any records and I have never been presented with a proper set of invoices for my four requests. So, how does that Eastchester case bear on my case? Simple. It does not.
Thank you for our time and consideration.
Kehl's Petrone's reply follows:
From: Chrisanne Petrone
Subject: Re: foil request
Date: February 20, 2012 at 10:34:24 AM EST
To: Robert Cox
Cc: Jeffrey Hastie
, MaryJane Reddington , Deirdre Polow , Valerie Orellana , Lianne Merchant , David Lacher , Naomi Brickel , Rachel Relkin , Richard Organisciak , email@example.com, Liz Saraiva
Since some board members were not around during the original request, it is important to recap the timeline of events according to our records. We have followed up on this timeline with our attorney. Although, you have received a copy of the details of the invoice breakdown via your attorney, to clear up this matter, I have attached another copy of the original invoice, the time breakdown, and a copy of the letter sent to your attorney addressing this issue.
The events are as follows:
On April 1, 2009, the Superintendent sent you a letter responding to a March 12, 2009 letter from you. In his April 1 letter, the Superintendent responded to your requests for documents; and he told you what rates would be charged for duplicating audiocassettes, for burning CD’s, for making photocopies of records which required redaction, and for scanning paper copies into the .pdf formats which you had requested. The Superintendent sent a copy of that April 1 letter to the Committee on Open Government.
On April 21, 2009, the Superintendent sent you a follow-up letter advising you that the materials you had asked for were ready, and enclosing an invoice for $274.95 for reproduction expense.
On May 8, 2009, you had an attorney named Debra S. Cohen send the Superintendent a letter asking for a breakdown of the costs. The Superintendent sent her a response and a breakdown on May 28, 2009, with an invitation to address any questions to School District legal counsel. No one heard from Ms. Cohen after that.
On July 30, 2009, the Committee on Open Government sent you a letter explaining the basis on which government bodies can charge FOIL requestors for duplicating expense.
It is now more than two years later. You had an attorney in 2009. At that time, the Freedom of Information law gave you the right to start an Article 78 proceeding to get judicial review. You had to bring that proceeding within four months. To our knowledge you did not file an Article 78 proceding. The statute of limitations for an appeal on this matter has long since expired.
It is also important to mention that based on statements you have made during public discussion at board meetings over the past two plus years, it is clear that you are using the Public Officer's law for an ulterior purpose other than to gain public information. With that being said, let me remind you of three of many statements that you have made in public and were included in your attorney's letter.
Statement made by Mr. Cox: "I find that I have some free time on my hands which I can use to make new requests. In fact, I think I am going to have extra time on my hands for each day that goes by where I do not get the records from last week so that will free me up to make even more requests. What is particularly convenient for me that is that under the law I can shoot you an email with a request any time the idea pops into my head to make such a request."
Statement made by Mr. Cox: "If this is not fixed, you can expect me to start FOILing this district in earnest. I will start with the expense reports for the past year of every administrator in the district, working my way from the Superintendent on down. When I'm finished, I will start over again back a year, then another, then another."
Statement from Mr. Cox: "I'd recommend you have your expense reports in order. They are going to be on public display on a regular basis for the foreseeable future starting about a month from now. Unless of course someone over there decides to fix my son's transcript."
We have engaged in multiple discussions over this matter and at this point further discussion would be fruitless.
President, Board of Education
City School District of New Rochelle
EDITOR'S NOTE: That last bit about my son's transcript refers to Schools Superintendent Richard Organisciak's refusal to change a grade on my son's transcript, as required under federal law, after my wife and I discovered that he had been failed in a course he actually passed, a whole other story for another day.
As mentioned at the outset, all of this was resolved in my favor last March when Lacher and Korostoff "fully agreed with [my] rationale that the District never provided [me] with the breakdown of fees sought" and that I did not owe any money (recall, I never got the records). In other words, the entire line of argument put forth by Petrone/Kehl was and is a load of bollox as the District itself has now admitted.
The "test" FOIL request I made in January, 2014 was for a record that I naturally believed to be readily available to Mr. Quinn -- a copy of the Aramark contract based on a bid award a year ago, in June. This is easily the most famous vendor contract in New Rochelle having been the subject of numerous articles, speeches, and questions from board members.
Initially, Quinn and Kehl sought to deny my request. They were overruled by Lacher and Korostoff. So it was agreed in mid-March that I would get a copy of the Aramark contract.
Appropriately, on April Fool's Day I was sent the "fill" of my FOIL request which turned out not to be an executed copy of a contract but an unsigned, unedited, draft template from Aramark.
That no such contract had ever been produced went a long way, in my view, of explaining the efforts by Quinn and Kehl to block my FOIL request for the "contract".
I then wrote this article: SHOCKER: After Years of Controversy, Turns Out New Rochelle School District Never Signed Aramark Contract
After coming across John Gallagher last week at AJ's Burgers, sitting with what appeared to be two Aramark executives, presumably one being his boss Steven Weiser, I was reminded that an update on the situation with Aramark was in order (for those who don't know, rumors have been swirling since early June that the entire Aramark management team including John Gallagher was going to be replaced as a number of our reports of corruption under Gallagher and Quinn were verified by school officials).
I made the FOIL request below, setting off an email chain which ends with Jeffrey Kehl threatening to sue me for defamation and making vague threats if I publish or disclose the contents of his emails.
Long time readers will know I regularly get these sort of blow hard threats from people like Mr. Kehl and that I have a consistent way of dealing with such threats -- I publish them.
Below I am publishing the entire email exchange.
From: Robert Cox
Sent: Thursday, July 24, 2014 5:51 PM
To: Liz Saraiva
Subject: Aramark contract - FOIL
This is a public records request.
I last requested information on Aramark over the winter a and got
records on or sound 4/1z
I would like to get records of whatever took place since including a final version of any contract, any communications with Aramark, invoices and payments.
Ps, as usual, anything over $20 tell me first.
Sent from my iPhone
On Jul 27, 2014, at 1:03 PM, "Kehl, Jeffrey"
Dear Liz -
A FOIL requestor may ask for specific records, or for records which can be identified with reasonable specificity, but NOT for "whatever took place since ... [some prior date]." He can have invoices and payment records, since those requests are comprehensible.
I do not believe, in any event, that there have been communications about the draft contract, but you would have to verify that with Mr. Quinn.
Of course, please let me know if you have any questions.
Bond Schoeneck & King, PLLC
600 Third Avenue 22nd floor, New York, NY 10016-1915 bsk.com This
email is ONLY for the person(s) named in the message header. Unless otherwise indicated, it contains information that is confidential, privileged or exempt from disclosure under applicable law. If you have received it in error, please notify the sender of the error and delete the message.
IRS regulations require us to notify you that any tax advice contained in this communication (including any attachments) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, for the purpose of avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code. If you want a further description of this requirement, go tohttp://www.bsk.com/disclaimer/.
EDITOR'S NOTE: all further emails from Jeffrey Kehl contain the same footer/disclaimer. For brevity's sake, they will be removed from all further emails.
From: Robert Cox [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Sunday, July 27, 2014 1:48 PM
To: Kehl, Jeffrey
Cc: Robert Cox; Dr. Brian G. Osborne
Subject: Re: Aramark contract - FOIL
NYS FOIL requires that I "reasonably describe" the records that I seek. I am seeking all public records related to the Aramark contract for B&G with one delimiter, that I only want records since 4-1-14, when my last request was filled.
This strikes me as quite reasonably describing the records I seek so I am mystified as to the caution to the Clerk in this email.
As a reminder, it was my FOIL request last winter that disclosed that Mr. Quinn never signed the Aramark contract. I want to know what took place since and whether contract was since signed.
Sent from my iPhone
On Jul 27, 2014, at 2:20 PM, "Kehl, Jeffrey"
Dear Mr. Cox -
I am chastened to be reminded of the vicissitudes of "reply all."
That said, my advice does not change, as my obligation is to interpret the law as I understand it without regard to any particular individual. The Freedom of Information Law applies to requests for records, and not to requests for narrative information. Members of the public may ask for records so long as they identify the records with reasonable specificity. “I want to know what took place” is an expression of curiosity, and while it is comprehensible as such, it is a request for a narrative answer not required by FOIL.
In short, public bodies are required to make records available within the ambit of FOIL; they are not required to engage in dialogue. I trust that I have made the dichotomy reasonably clear.
From: Robert Cox [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Sunday, July 27, 2014 3:34 PM
To: Kehl, Jeffrey
Cc: Robert Cox; Dr. Brian G. Osborne
Subject: Re: Aramark contract - FOIL
I am not sure what you mean when you say that public bodies "are not required to engage in dialogue". The very nature of FOIL requests is a dialog -- request, confirm if receipt, accept/deny/partially deny, appeal -- and along the way clarifications and questions from either side.
In this case I am referring to a previous fill of a FOIL request of which Liz is well aware by way of context and explanation.
I am not required to explain why I want records under FOIL any more than I am required to say "please" or "thank you" while making a FOIL request. I do it as a courtesy.
As I have a long standing, cordial relationship with Ms. Saraiva I just wanted her to understand the nature of my request in the context of my previous request so that if the request were voluminous (I do not expect that to be the case, as you apparently agree) she and I could discuss how I might tailor my request to reduce its scope. She and I have had just such dialogs in the past and I have similar dialogs with public access officers for dozens of other state and federal agencies. The goal is always to make it as easy as possible to get what I want quickly and not create extra work which benefits both parties.
I trust we agree that I am entitled to request all records with the word "Aramark" in it from now until the beginning of the world. That would guarantee that my request would include all records I hope to obtain but they would be a small subset. That would be a intrusive, burdensome request for Liz and expensive for me but I am entitled to do it.
In this case, I did not say “I want to know what took place" I said "I would like to get records of whatever took place since" where "since" refers to 4/1 when Liz sent an unexecuted template of an Aramark contract to me.
I then describe types of records I want with a reasonable degree of specificity, "a final version of any contract, any communications with Aramark, invoices and payments." BUT NOT EXCLUSIVELY.
The phrase used by New York State is that I must "reasonably describe" the records I seek. The question here is whether Liz can understand what records I seek and I believe the answer is "yes" (and she has not said "no") I want all Aramark records related to B&G going back to the previous fill of a FOIL request on 4/1.
I have never heard that phrase "reasonable specificity" used before in regards to FOIL. I suspect the reason for that is that, as in the case, I have no way to know with any SPECIFICITY what records actually exist but that I want all records germane to my previous Aramark request.
THIS is my request
I would like to get records of whatever took place since including a final version of any contract, any communications with Aramark, invoices and payments.
If you feel that this request cannot be understood as "all records related to Aramark / B&G contract since April 1, 2014" please advice and I will modify my request accordingly.
As for your interpretation of the law as regards to FOIL and/or me personally, given that it has already been agreed by the District that my FOIL requests were improperly denied for about 5 years and that these improper denials were based on your legal advice I cannot say your track record in FOIL ( or OML for that matter) is anything to brag about. Further, the District created a deputy Records Access Officer (Quinn) and demanded that I alone send FOIL requests to John and not Liz.
I do not know but must wonder whether you personally review all FOIL requests or just those from me. One seems to be wasteful spending, the other yet another example which shows that you do not interpret the law "without regard to any particular individual" and that I am being singled out.
On Jul 28, 2014, at 9:54 AM, Kehl, Jeffrey
Dear Mr. Cox –
As you seem to be conducting a monologue here, I think that further engagement on my part would be superfluous at this time.
Jeffrey A. Kehl
This email exchange is hardly a monologue.
I sent an email to Liz Saraiva not you but you have sent me THREE emails and I have only RESPONDED to YOUR emails. Now having starting this DIALOG you declare it over. It does not work that way. You get your say and now I (again) get mine.
For the record, you sent me an unsolicited email in which you grossly misstated my request to Ms. Saraiva and then appear to have advised her not to respond, in part, to what I wrote. I briefly responded. You then sent another email stating your first email was sent in error. The matter might have ended there.
Instead, you proceeded to expand on your response further again mischaracterizing my request to Ms. Saraiva and making the laughable and demonstrably false claim that you do not "interpret the law as I understand it without regard to ANY PARTICULAR INDIVIDUAL”. The fact is that you and your firm have been an active participant in an effort going back to 2006 to deny my son his rights as a classified student, various efforts to harrass me, unlawfully deny my access to public records. It was your firm that hired private investigators to contact my neighbors, landlord, clients, vendors and other business associates. It was you firm that contacted by web hosting provider and threatened them if they did not stop hosting my web site. Tell me when you have had enough.
I then responded to the various false and misleading statements in your email and having been caught out on these things you wish to withdraw.
That’s fine, if you do not respond furher then I will not respond further.
I certainly appreciate that when someone in your position has a losing hand in an argument it is best to fold by withdrawing from “further engagement” so by all means please withdraw.
All of your nonsense aside, the bottom line is that I want all the Aramark records related to Buildings and Grounds since April 1, 2014 until the present. As I recall you were the one who sought to block my FOIL request for the Aramark B&G Contract, a contract your firm would have negotiated and/or finalized with Aramark at the time the bid was awarded in June 2013, and which you therefore KNEW did not exist. So, I can understand your reluctance to get further information about what took place since. Unfortunately, the discussions with Aramark via email, letter and other written communications as well as contracts, invoices and payments are all public records so the incompetence displayed by the failure to execute the Aramark contract can be (and will be) put on public display so residents and taxpayers can see how well the District manages their money.
All that said, I have asked you a question — whether you feel my request is clear or not and if not clear then I will reformulate it to suit any legitimate concerns you might have.
Otherwise, please see to it that the records are made available to me as much as that is in your power.
New Rochelle's Talk of the Sound
On Jul 28, 2014, at 11:17 AM, "Kehl, Jeffrey"
Dear Mr. Cox -
I am not going to give you legal advice, and it was a mistake to have offered you the courtesy of an explanation in the first place.
Your factual statements and legal assertions contain numerous material inaccuracies -- but I am not going to argue with a solipsist.
You have a long history of making false assertions of fact with respect to me and my firm, which I have thus far chosen to ignore because I have better things to do with my time. Understand, however, that I keep careful records of your statements.
Please note that no one else is copied or blind-copied on this e-mail. This has significance for you should you elect to re-publish it.
Jeffrey A. Kehl
On Jul 28, 2014, at 12:17 PM, Robert Cox
Do not just threaten, tough guy! Do it.
Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to receive a defamation lawsuit from you. Go ahead. I will counter claim you and then proceed to beat you like a drum. I will subpoena every administrator and every board member since 2006 as non-party witnesses. The motion practice on discovery alone will take years but will be well worth it as a way to better expose corrupt practices in the District, all while you were the attorney for the district. I will publish the transcripts of every deposition which will make fascinating reading.
As you keep copying Dr. Osborne I can only interpret that as you wishing your emails to serve as your posturing before the new Superintendent and in so doing make a fool of yourself.
Why don't you send him all the billable hours and related costs you and your firm(s) have rung up fighting me (and losing).
It was my understanding that you charged the District about $450,000 for my son's impartial hearing in 2006-2007. You settled that case after I entered exhibits which proved that Yvette Goorevitch unilaterally de-classified my son and manufactured documents to cover up what she had done. Yvette is the same person the DOJ found lied about the wheel-chair incident at NRHS.
The last figure I heard was that the total billings were about $600,000 as of 2011. I have to believe its about $750,000 by now.
At these rates I am a bit offended that I am never invited to your firm's holiday party. After all, your trumped up legal work on matters involving me has to be among the top revenue sources for your firm.
BTW, are you denying that a lawyer from your firm contacted Zubr Communications and threatened them if they did not take down my web site after I wrote an article critical of Yvette Goorevitch. I believe it was Marion Katzive who made the call?
I keep records too.
PS, thank you for initiating and continuing this email exchange, nothing could better make the point of your incompetence and lack of professionalism to engage in this sort of on the record dialog. My readers will be fascinated.
From: Robert Cox
Subject: Re: Aramark contract - FOILs
Date: July 28, 2014 at 12:49:44 PM EDT
To: "Kehl, Jeffrey"
Cc: "Dr. Brian G. Osborne"
, Lianne Merchant , Rachel Relkin
"Please note that no one else is copied or blind-copied on this e-mail. This has significance for you should you elect to re-publish it.”
I had not seen this line at the bottom of your most recent email or realized that you had not copied Dr. Osborne in your last email. Let me fix that for you — I have copied Dr. Osborne as well as Board President Lianne Merchant and Board Vice President Rachel Relkin so they can see the sort of threats you are making any my utter disdain for them.
I am unaware of any basis on which I could not re-publish or re-transmit an on-the-record email exchange. You knew from the outset that I am a reporter, that my purpose in making my FOIL was to obtain records to further my previous reporting on the Aramark “contract” and YOU initiated all contact.
If you want to file a lawsuit for defamation you might want to know, as you are apparently do not, that there is a statute of limitations so if you intend to file any claims you might want to consider that over the past year I have rarely, if ever, spoken about or wrote about YOU. Therefore, I have no idea what defamation claims you might have but if you have some bone to pick you have the opportunuty now to inform me of any material false statement of fact that I have spoken or published and, if warranted, I will correct the record in so far as it is in my power to do so. That I am offering your this opportunity now and that my web site has always allowed commenting on articles, would tell any competent attorney that you have NO basis for a defamation claim the court would uphold. That said, I have NEVER knowingly made a material false statement of fact about you.
I had not thought to do it but as you seem to be challenging my right to do it I am inclined to go ahead and publish this entire exchange on Talk of the Sound and then you can file whatever lawsuits you intend to file and then I can file my counterclaim and we can spend the next few years in motion practice. I will be pro-se so I will be having the Judge in the case signing all of my subopoenas for record production and non-party witnesses and you can fight those battles as well.
Whatever you THINK the case would be about, it will ultimately be a First Amendment case, one that will cost you a large amount of money, one that I fully expect you will lose and one that I will use to great effect to bring greater attention to the District.
Bring it on.
New Rochelle's Talk of the Sound