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GannettUSA Today

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Showing you can win for losing

When both sides of a complaint claim victory, you've got to wonder what's really going on. When the Government Records Council, the state agency that hears public records disputes, found that Lakewood gadfly Larry Simons had no cause for claiming the Board of Education routinely withholds requests for information, the board attorney was pleased and said the board appreciates Simons' concern. Simons was happy, too, saying he proved his point.

Simons wanted to see board records of what former Superintendent Ernest J. Cannava did to earn the nearly $72,000 the district was paying him as a consultant. The district had no documentation, so there was nothing to withhold. Simons knew that, but he wanted to show how the district pays for things that yield no return - the money was later labeled a "buyout agreement'' - and should be more responsive to the taxpaying residents. That he did, even by pursuing a lost cause. That lesson shouldn't be lost on the Lakewood board or any public agency.

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