Monday, July 30, 2018

DPS Blows It Against Bomgar

You can't make this up.  The Mississippi Department of Public Safety managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in a public records fight with State Representative Joel Bomgar.  The Mississippi Ethics Commission ruled against DPS and fined two employees $100 each on June 1 after DPS denied a public records request from Mr. Bomgar.
  Mr. Bomgar submitted a public records request  to DPS about its drug-fighting policies a year ago. However, Mr. Bomgar's request didn't ask for records but instead asked for opinions and information.  Here is one such example:

[Scenario 2] If successful, drug enforcement efforts will restrict the available supply of drugs. If this is the case, the price of the drugs will rise due to the laws of supply and demand. In this case, the black market premium (profit) available in the drug market will be higher. If there is already a lot of crime committed related to the sale and trafficking of drugs, such as deals gone bad, fighting over turf, fighting over trafficking routes, violence against potential rival dealers, etc., how would there not be more crime related to the increasingly lucrative drug market?
It is a standard rule of Mississippi Public Records Laws that one must ask for actual records when submitting a public records request.  There are more than a few Ethics Commission and Court rulings that denied requests similar to Mr. Bomgar's when they didn't ask for actual records.  His request should have been denied.  However, DPS is the agency at issue and as usual, it shot itself in the foot.

DPS attorney John Younger denied Bomgar's request but dropped the ball in one sentence.  The opinion states:

1.4 As directed, Bomgar contacted Jim Younger, Senior Attorney for DPS, via telephone on November 21 and again on November 29, 2017 in order to discuss the ongoing status of his public records request. Younger sent a letter to Bomgar on November 29, 2017, denying his request for public records which included the following explanation:

While Director Dowdy did prepare a response to your letter, he did not release it because it is not a record which his agency is required to maintain. Here, your request is a series of interrogatories which is not a valid public records request. See R-10-013: Thomas v. City of Gulfport, Mississippi Ethics Commission. For these reasons, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety declines your request. If you are aggrieved by the decision, you may file a complaint with the Mississippi Ethics Commission or a complaint in Chancery Court.
Uh-oh.  Once that record is created, it is now a record subject to the public records laws, as DPS found out the hard way:

In his November 29, 2017 denial letter to Bomgar, Younger admits that Dowdy “did prepare a response to [Bomgar’s] letter, but he did not release it because it is not a record which his agency is required to maintain.” Dowdy’s written responses to questions posed by a legislator about a known public safety crisis are certainly documentary materials used, prepared, possessed and retained in the conduct, transaction or performance of the business, work, duty and function of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics and its parent agency, the Department of Public Safety. Dowdy’s written responses to Bomgar’s questions meet the definition of “public record,” and DPS made no assertion that they were exempt until after the preliminary report was issued in this case."
2.3 Rather, in his response, Younger focused on Bomgar’s June 12th email to Dowdy, which posed a series of questions, and cited a prior case for the proposition that DPS is not obligated to answer questions. This argument is disingenuous in light of every witness’s admission that DPS possesses the very same public record Bomgar has repeatedly requested since his November 3rd email to Mandy Davis. Bomgar has also made it repeatedly and abundantly clear to DPS personnel that he seeks Dowdy’s written responses to his earlier questions. Bomgar has requested a specific and easily identifiable record and has repeatedly clarified and reiterated his request. No reasonable person who has read the correspondence in this case can misunderstand the request.
The fined Mr. Younger $100 and DPS employee Shannon Jones $100 as well.  The opinion and Mr. Bomgar's emails are posted below.  This is not the first time DPS has shot itself in the foot, or the second, or the third.


Anonymous said...

Well, Bomgar should have known what he would get. His first mistake was asking the folks at DPS/MBN to think critically about the underlying policy implications of their work. I think he's onto something with his questions. The drug war has been a failure for many of the reasons he teases out there, but the folks at DPS would be the last ones on earth to acknowledge it. The opioid problem has pushed more to the realization that drugs should be handled medically, not as a criminal justice issue, but there's still enormous amounts of money and human potential squandered in the drug war.

Anonymous said...

Bomgar likes to argue. His "request" sounds like an opening statement in a lawyer show. But kudo's to him for trying. We need more people in government that have actually accomplished something.

Anonymous said...

Bomgar is all over this issue. A while back Kingfish posted the video of a public hearing related to the State's new policies regarding opioid prescriptions. Bomgar presented some very compelling statistical data that suggests that more restrictive prescribing regs will lead to more deaths (presumably b/c people will go to illegal substances). When he started talking hardcore statistics, the room fell silent.

It was a classic, "But, these go to eleven..." moment.

Anonymous said...

No politician ever let a statistic get in the way of populist policies. And never in hell will an appointed politician like Dowdy do anything other than parrot the script from the 1980s war on drugs.

And don't even start me on the law enforcement community that profits from this so-called war.

Bomgar is fighting an uphill battle, but a lot of common sense folk agree with him.

Anonymous said...

Bomgar is smart enough to see through all the misinformation about “prescription “ opioids only death statistic and brought it up on to be spoken down to the “experts” in the room. Only a handful of people die while taking prescription opioids. Most death show other drugs and alcohol in the system. Street opioids are a different story but law enforcement wont see the difference and it is now where the
Money is. There are billions being thrown at it and attorney generals see drug companies as an easy target. However trying to discuss with DPS or MBN is like having a discussion with a mule. They will probably plant drugs in his or his families vehicles soon.

Anonymous said...

Ahh, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety. The most incompetent state agency in the country.

Macy Hanson said...

Thank you, Joel Bomgar!

I respect you very much. You are a true champion of real limited government. I'm not sure that the Mississippi GOP even deserves you.

THE Glenn said...

OoOOoOOOOO, is this related to my earlier question about the fact my 72 year old, church secretary mother (and now add to that my girlfriend, who has migraines that leave her vomiting and unable to leave her bed) have to take drug tests like common fucking junkies to get their prescriptions for NON opioid medications refilled? Keep me updated. I'd still like to know who to contact. I found the overweight, perpetually sweaty pig of a doctor from Vicksburg who's idea this was, he just won't return by calls.

Anonymous said...

Well, it is not as if the best and brightest, type A, Ivy League-educated litigators end up working for state agencies handling FOIA requests.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how long it will take before Dowdy changes his cell number and email....

Anonymous said...

Tater needs to step aside and let him run for governor.

Anonymous said...

Joel Bomgar for POTUS 2024

Chain Joel To A Tree With Water Bowl said...

So...according to most of the above posts, asking for an opinion is now requesting a copy of a public record?

Joel will do anything to keep the heat off his (Blackmon at the hip) vote against stiffer penalties for dog fighting. And all twelve of his supporters, who post here, must be of the same opinion as he regarding that issue.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm...John Dowdy is an attorney and former AUSA. One might have guessed he would have just given Bomgar the report/info, however inartfully requested, and had a pretty good idea of where this would go if Bomgar didn't get at least something. John and I don't do Christmas and birthdays, so I can't claim to have special insight into his mind, current thinking, or dreams and aspirations, but I admit I am a bit surprised. But then, I find myself feeling that way more and more with every passing day, so there you are.

I will say that the taxpayers of MS do not need to finance yet another purse-swinging contest, so Joel, John, if by some miracle you see this, come on, fellas, play nice...pretty please?

Anonymous said...

I’ve dealt with Dowdy a lot over the years and have found him to be a self-important tool, his new-ish job has done nothing but fuel his ego and made things worse for DPS, it’s partners and the people of Mississippi. He’s a frustrated wannabe FBI agent and now he gets to play poh-leese. MBN needs to go away - save the state a bunch of money and reassign their assets to locals and counties who can demonstrate responsible and effective narcotics enforcement, and who have a good track record of making strong cases.

Disappointed said...

Hmmm - I read "DPS Blows It" and I thought this post was about something else...

Anonymous said...

What about that bill to dissolve both MBN and PRVWSD? Hope that one cruises through. Think of the savings.

Anonymous said...

7;33am gets it right . MBN and PRVWSD, the two most corrupt administrative agencies in state government , should be abolished. all of their duties should be turned over to county and municipal entities. howdy dowdy strikes again

Anonymous said...

Bomgar is the follow up to Fordice and Jack Reed we need.

Anonymous said...

Bomgar on paper is everything you want.

Bomgar in person is awkward.

Anonymous said...

Dowdy didn't jump to Bomgar's request because he felt it wasn't something of importance to Ol' Feel.

Dowdy only does what Ol' Feel allows him to do.

If Bomgar has an issue with Dowdy, tell him to take it up with the person that appointed Dowdy to the position.

Anonymous said...

July 31, 2018 at 6:46 AM wrote:

"I’ve dealt with Dowdy a lot over the years and have found him to be a self-important tool, his new-ish job has done nothing but fuel his ego"

Like I said previously, nothing surprises me anymore. I can't agree or disagree with the "tool" part because I just don't know, but him not just giving Bomgar SOMETHING to chew on made me wonder...self-importance and ego could explain him playing games. I wonder what yet another completely silly and unnecessary pissing contest will cost MS taxpayers...if these two cannot play nicely, make 'em go on down to Piccadilly and settle it with a sweet-tea chunkin' hair-yanking slap fight, just like plain ol' mindless cretins do when something "triggers" them.

About That Dog Fighting Bill.. said...

Bomgar has posted about five times now. You can tell because the font is orange. He forgot to change it. Meanwhile, he's already getting emails from Barbara Blackmon telling him to vote next session.

Anonymous said...

Joel may not be the slick ass politician that all you want, but he was the only one with the balls that looked at the heroin report that was being used to extrapolate data to justify the draconian laws on opiates and the consequences of such laws for what it was. I applaud him for going into a room full of bloat ignorant sycophants such as Randy Easterling and standing up to them. Illegal drug use has no comparison to physician prescribed and monitored pain management, and his point was that if you take away the ability for doctors to give pain medicine to legit patients, you will drive them to illicit drugs like heroin that have a much higher rate of death.

Anonymous said...

Joel is One Fine Man . He is one of The Few
That Has Made it On His own With God’s
Why ??? He Listens He Thinks
He does his Due Diligence Then
He Quietly Makes His Points.
Are You Idiots Listening !
He Needs No Ones Money Or Crooked
Ways “
He Is The Real Deal !
Delbert , Watch and Listen
This Man is Wise Beyond His Age.
No Mont Blanc Pens, Harley’s, or
Notre Dame Bull Shit ....
Just A Good Genuine Human Being !
You Speak Of Leadership - Mumbo
Jumbo need Not Go To Harvard
Kenneth Joke can go and Stay .
Let The Northern Liberals Jerk a Knot
In his Big A___! Take Momma Too.
What a hateful , arrogant human with a
Major You Owe Me Chip on His Shoulder.
How Sad for All Of JACKSON. A Different
Kind of Cancer Killing Us All ! Will Jackson
Ever Recover ?

Anonymous said...

I would like to know how many times DPS has dropped the ball on public records responses such as this one. If they can pull this BS with a state legislator, members of the media and now the state ethics commission, I wonder what they are doing to the regular Moe off the street who doesn't know his rights under the state's open records laws. At face value it would appear that Dowdy was trying to do the right thing and respond to a legislator's questions on a topic of importance to most MS citizens but got shut down by the higher ups because his response must not have fit the political narrative. So DPS spins into CYA mode grabbing at straws to withhold a document that is clearly public record once it was created.

Both the arrogance and dumbassery of this agency is epic. Hell with the $100 fine, they should all be fined substantially more and made to take a basic course on public records laws, or the dumbassery continues.

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