Emails Between Middletown Library Director and Democratic Candidate Will Be Released

Linda Baum trying to convince voters to support her last summer. facebook photo

Linda Baum trying to convince voters to support her last summer. facebook photo

Linda Baum, a past and present Democratic candidate for Middletown Township Committee, presents herself as an advocate of open government and transparency. She even wrote an article on her campaign website about how citizens can made Open Public Records Act (OPRA) requests.

Yet, when it comes to her own email correspondence with Middletown Library Director Susan O’Neal, Baum is far from open and transparent. She sued the Library Board of Trustees and Township Clerk Heidi Brunt to prevent her emails from being released under an OPRA request made by Brunt on behalf of Township Committeeman Tony Fiore. Fiore is the Township Committee’s representative on the Library Board.

Judge Lawrence M. Lawson ruled on Monday that Baum’s emails with O’Neal are government records and must be released per the OPRA request. Lawson’s decision can be viewed here.

Baum argued that the emails were private, had nothing to do with Library operations, and could be used against her politically.

Fiore asked Brunt to file OPRA requests for the emails that O’Neal exchanged with Baum and Melanie Elmiger from January 2012 and May 15, 2013 when it became apparent that Baum and Elmiger had information about Library business that had only been discussed in executive sessions and was not yet public.

“I look forward to seeing the emails that Linda Baum attempted to illegally block from the public,” Fiore said, “It is a shame that her frivolous lawsuit will cost the taxpayers of Middletown and the Middletown Public Library thousands of dollars that could have been used for other purposes.”

Posted: July 5th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Middletown, Middletown Democrats, Middletown Library | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments »

31 Comments on “Emails Between Middletown Library Director and Democratic Candidate Will Be Released”

  1. Just noting some names said at 9:12 am on July 5th, 2013:

    Just noting that these are the names of two of the attorneys involved:

    Walter M. Luers, Esq.
    Brian M. Nelson, Esq.

    Is the other, R. Armen Mcomber, known among any specific circles or for any specific issues?

  2. @ Just noting said at 9:19 am on July 5th, 2013:

    And your point is?

    Beyond that, this is typical Democrap playbook stuff. Do as I say, but not as I do


    Silence Dogood, Redux

  3. TherealRisback said at 9:53 am on July 5th, 2013:

    I think that mr. Fiore and the Middletown committee should file a frivolous law suit againg her seeking payment from her for all the money they had to spend. Baum is a fraud and she should resign from the race. She is a name seeker not a public server do gooder. She likes the limelight but can’t cut the mustard when it comes to cleanliness. Another dirty want to be.

  4. Give me a break said at 10:02 am on July 5th, 2013:

    So Ms. Open Government wants open government for everyone but her. All I can say is that there must be some really bad stuff in those e-mails for Baum to go to all of the trouble of hiring a lawyer and suing the town to keep them hidden. Art, keep us posted as to what is in them when you find out. Given the Middletown Democrats history, it is probably the usual shady/dishonest dabblings that we’ve come to expect from them.

  5. Bob English said at 10:36 am on July 5th, 2013:

    I don’t fathem myself as an OPRA expert but the thing that suprised me a bit about the ruling is that e-mails from or to a private citizen are considered OPRA’able (if thats a word, lol) and would be released.

    Regarding “open government and transparency,” its a slam dunk that if the emails were between govt officials they would be released. Nobody is arguing that.

    If this ruling refllects the current standard, so be it however I personally don’t think its necssarily a good thing to have private citizens of a municiplaity concerned as to whether their correspondance to a municipal or elected official in their town can at some point be made public. That’s really the issue that was decided here.

  6. Mark F. said at 11:02 am on July 5th, 2013:

    Looks like they have the goods on her if Baum try to block the e-mail release. This was too easy. Baum not ready for prime time or bush league for that matter.

  7. Middletowner said at 11:09 am on July 5th, 2013:

    I personally don’t think its necssarily a good thing to have private citizens of a municiplaity concerned as to whether their correspondance to a municipal or elected official in their town can at some point be made public.

    The citizens emails shouldn’t be made public. However, the Govt officials emails (even to private citizens) can be made public, if they’re related to the office that they work for.

  8. @bobenglish said at 11:33 am on July 5th, 2013:

    Bob- don’t quit your day job. As the judge clearly ruled, email correspondence to and from a government official is subject to OPRA. The library director is A GOVERNMENT OFFICIAL. If you send an email to the Mayor, it can be OPRA’d. No different than if you send an email to the library director. The OPRA request was made for the DIRECTOR’S emails to and from, not for Baum. The OPRA request did not state a request for Baum’s emails. She is a third party that decided to intervene.

    If you believe that Baum filed this lawsuit because she believes that private emails should not be OPRA’d, then you probably also believe that Jim McGreevey resigned as Governor because he was gay. This is a smokescreen to try to protect the director who apparently may have put her foot in a trap to help the Middletown Democratic cause.

  9. Proud Republican said at 12:30 pm on July 5th, 2013:

    here is what’s going on. The Middletown Democrats can’t win an election because the voters reject their far left, union funded liberal ideology. So instead they have to cook up harebrained schemes to try and hurt the town and then try and blame the Republicans. Look at their past record. The Middletown Democrat chairman was arrested for stealing signs and lying to the police. They had a candidate who was arrested twice for crack possession. They had another former candidate convicted of damaging Township property. They had another candidate who violated campaign Financial disclosure laws. So is it any wonder that they will try to use the library for their own political gains? This may be the worst one yet. And coming from a candidate who wants to teach the gay agenda to our school children.

  10. Bob English said at 1:07 pm on July 5th, 2013:

    @bobenglish I read the judges decision. I would just suggest though that agree or disagree, that members of the public that send what they might think is a private email to a municipal employee or elected official should be aware that those emails are subject to public disclosure as part of what is released in an OPRA request.

  11. @bobenglish said at 1:58 pm on July 5th, 2013:

    I’ve never seen a person on this site talk out of both sides of his mouth as much as you do. You are the same guy who in one breath would praise Obama for NSA email taps on private citizens and in another breath condemn a private citizen’s emails to a government official be subject to OPRA.

  12. OPRAthis said at 2:16 pm on July 5th, 2013:

    As I see it, what was primarily being requested was a right of review given Ms. Baum’s privacy interest. Not all documents or conversations from private email accounts are public, thus a privacy interest exists. The library attorney is responsible for redacting that which is non-public or not related to library business as appropriate and he should be diligent in complying with the law in this regard.

    When Fiore has the emails, I wonder if he will share them with the rest of us. He should post them all on the Twp website.

  13. Bob English said at 5:11 pm on July 5th, 2013:

    @Bob English’s…….maybe you should get your fact straight. “Obama’s NSA e-mail taps” is part of a program that was started by the previous President who signed a bill passed by Congress. The program continued under President Obama and has stopped a number of terrorists attacks. If you have a problem with that, you are in the extreme minority.

    You should also learn the difference between apples and oranges before saying someone is talking out of both sides of their mouth. One program is used to prevent terrorists attacks on the United States. Those emails or phone taps are not made public. The other issue, is whether a private citizens emails to a member of or employee of their municipal govt can be made public. The judge made his ruling so that settled.

    One issue has nothing to do with the other.

  14. Joe said at 5:57 pm on July 5th, 2013:

    Hey Proud, you left out the best ones. There was one guy on the council who falsified petitions and got hauled into court by the people he duped. This same guy accused the council of doubling their salaries even though the council salaries hadn’t been raised in 30 years. Ironically, the last salary increase came when the democrats were in control. My favorite democrat lie of late is when they said the republicans blackmailed Massel into running for office by threatening his brother’s job. The middletown democrats are an embarassment and this latest sordid chapter will only add to their well deserved reputation as liars, thieves, cheats and dirtbags.

  15. TheDigger said at 6:29 pm on July 5th, 2013:

    If it turns out, as suggested above, that the Library Director was involved in political activity while on the taxpayer dime and using a taxpayer owned computer, the question must become, what are the consequences of such activity?

  16. @Bob said at 9:23 pm on July 5th, 2013:

    So the NSA program is good cause it might stop terrorist attacks?

    Well, given the Middletown Dems’ history of vandalism, assault, drug offenses, etc, maybe checking their emails might reduce crime within the township.

  17. Bob English said at 9:23 am on July 6th, 2013:

    @Bob (how about using your real name?????)

    To answer your question….yes, the NSA program is good becasue it has stopped terrorists attacks and is closely monitored to protect other peoples rights.

    Regarding Middletown “Dem’s”…Note that the apparent reason for the OPRA request had to do with concerns over the possible disclosure of confidential infomation not yet meant for the public regarding their plans to close libraries in Middletown. That is not a D or an R issue and note that nobody is accusing Ms. Baum of doing anything improper.

  18. Truth Hurts said at 11:20 am on July 6th, 2013:

    if the Middletown Democrats are so dishonest at this level could you imagine what goes on at the federal? This is living proof that we need voter ID to keep the Democratsfrom cheating and stealing elections.

  19. Inquiring Minds said at 11:22 am on July 6th, 2013:

    “Baum argued that the emails were private, had nothing to do with Library operations, and could be used against her politically.”

    What did she say in those emails that she feels could be used against her politically?

    Inquiring minds would like to know!

  20. Give me a break said at 3:48 pm on July 6th, 2013:

    Following that line of questioning, if she told the judge under oath that the e-mails had nothing to do with library operations and they turn out to have everything to do with the library, has she perjured herslf?

  21. Curious said at 10:54 pm on July 6th, 2013:

    Three questions.

    If, as mentioned by Give Me A Break, Mrs. Baum claimed something to the Court that was untrue, could she be successfully sued by an irate taxpayer for her lawsuit that not only was “frivolous” but also based upon deceit?

    Second, will Middletown now release the emails and let the people judge for themselves?

    Third, if the date/time stamps of the emails being sent by the Library Director show that they were sent while at work, and the headers show it was from a Library computer, and it was “political” in nature, will there be any consequences to the Library Director?

  22. Bob English said at 9:51 am on July 7th, 2013:

    @ Truth…Note that proven cases of same day voter fraud/impersonalization are almost non existent. When the State of Pennsylvania went to court to try to defend its new voter ID requirements, they could not point to one single case anytime anywhere that it has taken place.

    With that said, I was glad to see some focus in Monmouth County on a type of voter fraud which is actually known is occur in the United States which involves the fraudulent use of absentee ballots and messenger ballots. Hopefully those efforts continue.

  23. Truth Hurts said at 11:03 am on July 7th, 2013:

    @Bob English – can you honestly say with a straight face that you have to show photo ID to rent a car, get on an airplane, get a library card, buy a six pack of beer, pick up baseball tickets at the box office, but you shouldn’t have to show voter ID to vote, one of the most sacred and important acts we engage in as Americans? As for your delusional statement about no proven cases of voter ID, you couldn’t be more wrong. In one county in Florida, there were 74,000 more votes than registered voters. Same thing in Ohio and Virginia. The problem is, we have the vile, incompetent Eric Holder who refuses to investigate voter fraud the same way he refused to prosecute the Black Panthers who stood at polling stations with clubs in their hands. Get out of your pollyanna fantasy world and face the fact that the only way Democrats can win elections is to cheat and voter ID is the one thing that will put an end to most Democrat cheating.

  24. Joe Foster said at 11:20 am on July 7th, 2013:

    Having been from Middletown originally, I find it most amusing to see Democrat Baum fighting to keep her emails from being released under the Open Public Records Act (OPRA) while at the same time espousing the use of OPRA to ensure honest and open government. Ms. Baum, you can’t have it both ways, either you are truly in favor of OPRA and the public’s right to know or you are not. It seems to me that you can’t quite make up your mind which you are.

  25. Joe Foster said at 12:16 pm on July 7th, 2013:

    Bob English – I am constantly amazed to see “rational” folks wrap themselves around the axle trying to justify why it is alright to show a picture ID for everything under the sun except to validate one’s legitimacy in voting. Unless your goal is to enhance the opportunities for people to cheat while exercising their duty to vote (yes, duty not privilege) then I am obviously missing something. Doesn’t it make sense that if I need to have a valid id to drive, to purchase a gun or to fly and for just about anything else, then why would I have a problem showing a valid government ID in order to legally vote? The argument is lame at best if you ask me.

    Keeping in mind that the left and their “Progressive”, big government, big brother proponents, in both parties I might add, have been pushing for a national ID, soon perhaps to take the form an implanted RFID chip provided at birth capable of containing all of your personal data including arrest and medical records etc. Such a chip may, in a short time become the enabling technology for fully implementing public educations, recently rolled out C-COR program (check with a teacher that you trust to understand the ramifications).

    This is the progression and direction we are going as a nation where just about every aspect of our lives will be monitored and recorded in a massive government database (shades of 1984!) yet there are those who still willingly accept these technological advances yet fret about ensuring that every vote is legitimate for the want of a form of id. No, asking that all voters be legitimate is neither racist nor unfair. To believe that it is racist but not have a problem with every other intrusion by government in our lives is a most bizarre stance wouldn’t you say?

    Interestingly, this propensity for ensuring honest and free elections does not seem to square with the “civil” libertarians who seem to believe that voter fraud will further their long term goals? Is it about making us a stronger nation or, could it be purely about achieving a political end-game alone? I wonder….

    Your stance on this issue seems to follow the likes of Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Harry Reid, Nancy Pellosi and the rest of the liberal progressive Democrat party leadership on this issue. To be an honest critic of the voting stance mentioned above, there are also a good many of “moderates” Republicans holding this stance as well, for reasons not clear other than perhaps thinking this will encourage illegal aliens to become R’s (fat chance!).

    In closing, stuffing ballot boxes with illegal votes empowered by those who have some other questionable agenda only favors the Progressives and the enemies of this once great nation. What is your honest assessment of this issue? I am curious to know….

  26. Tom Stokes said at 1:30 pm on July 7th, 2013:

    Bob English – “yes, the NSA program is good becasue it has stopped terrorists attacks and is closely monitored to protect other peoples rights.”

    Bob, some of us are not quite as trusting as you are of the government when it comes to our freedoms.

    In the name of “security”, we are told that they can ignore the Fourth Amendment. That has quite a chilling affect on our First Amendment rights as well; and of course, not to mention the attack by some on our Second Amendment rights (which is there to defend all of our constitutional rights).

    Those who would give up their freedoms for a “little” security deserve neither (with full credit to Benjamin Franklin, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

    And of those “terrorist” plots thwarted by the “NSA snooping”, how many were “real” terrorist plots not created by the FBI to entrap would be radical Islamists? Honesty seems to be missing in action here.

    Profiling? Nothing wrong in criminal profiling; I point out that neither Catholic priests and nuns, nor Christian ministers, nor Jewish rabbis have been caught (to my knowledge) wearing bomb vests attempting to blow innocent people up. It seems that that propensity of ‘jihad” attracts only those of one religious background.

    The snoopers didn’t stop the Time Square bombing; it failed to detonate. They didn’t stop the Boston Bombing, even though the government HAD reports (from Russian intelligence).

    FISA allegedly stands as an acronym for “Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978”. Phone calls, emails and text messages sent by American citizens have no reason to be intercepted by the National Snooping Agency, without a reasonable suspicion of actual wrongdoing.

    Bob, I am very concerned, perhaps more than others, as one of my numerous in-laws happens to be from a country where there are some problems with “jihad”. He does call and receive calls from his family in that country. He and his wife call our home (and actually were at our home celebrating this Fourth of July Independence Day). We call them at their home. Is the NSA spying on me because my phone number is linked to a number which dials out to, and receives phone calls from, a foreign country having a problem with jihadists within its borders?

    I wore the uniform of my country from 1970 to 1980 and I am now embarrassed by what this government has done and is doing in the name of “security”. Whether done under an elephant or donkey makes no difference. If it’s wrong, it’s wrong.

  27. Bob English said at 12:14 pm on July 8th, 2013:

    @Truth Hurts & Joe foster….Note that most of the poor and elderly are not renting cars, buying guns or getting on airplanes and never had to have photo id’s for those purposes. While I think its reasonable to have some kind of ID requirment, there are many that do not have photo id’s such as photo drivers licenses. So even though you and I might take those for granted, its not so easy for some people who do not drive to get to wherever new id’s are done (DMV’s etc.) and its even harder if they live in a rural area. I can tell you from first hand experience that for many seniors it would be a hardship.

    Also note that most instances of stories about more votes being cast than there are registered voters were not true. If you do some fact checking, they seem to be emails that were going around the net that were not based on fact.

    Also note that if there were actually a case were a lot more people voted at a polling place than there were registered voters, the issue has nothing to do with same day voter impersonation but one of series issues with the voting roles in that district/community.

    As a side note, hopefully part of the discussion is making sure that the issue of voter disenfranchisement (which definitely does exist) in states like Florida where it is estimated that over 200,000 people got off of long lines to vote (as long as 8 hours) are addressed. Hopefully the Republican Governor and his friends in the Legislature restore the early voting hours that they had cut prior to the election. Same issue was happening in Ohio where the Republican AB was going everything he could to cut early voting even though early voting had been established in a non partisan way after lines for hours to vote in the 2004 and 2008 elections. Someone would have to believe in the tooth fairly to think that their goal was not to intentionally suppress voting in the inner cities.

  28. Bob English said at 12:32 pm on July 8th, 2013:

    @ Tom Stokes….Tom, I think most would agree that they do not like the idea in principle that in the new world which we live in, the govt can do things that they had not done in the past regarding snooping and other methods of surveillance. So the quesiton really becomes how much will be permitted in order to stop terror plots (hopefully with the strong monitering that is in place to prevent abuses.) Just speaking for myself, I am okay with the laws put into place by Congress and the President in the years after 9/11. I can certainly understand though that many feel otherwise.

    Would note that nothing is going to stop all terror plots such as Times Square or Boston especially if they involve a very small group or just one person. The recent revelations about US intelligence collecting will make it even harder to disrupt future plots.

  29. Bob English said at 12:36 pm on July 8th, 2013:

    @Truth Hurts & Joe Foster

    Gents…Couple of corrections:

    AB should have been AG

    The years where they had long voting lines for hours in Ohio were 2000 and 2004 (which is why early voting was established.)

  30. @Bob said at 1:17 pm on July 8th, 2013:

    Florida’s Governor has proposed has reinstating its pre 2012 rules for early voting

  31. Lonnie Hunter said at 5:18 pm on July 17th, 2013:

    Wow. YOu Republicans are intellectual challenged, or perhaps mildly retarded. I can’t decide which. The Middletown TC is the most secretive and corrupt Gov’t entity that I have ever witnessed. Now you have a vendetta and slander campaign against the director of the library. Why? So you can be in control and steal more public funds?

    Based on your track record, I’m sure its not far off the mark!