The Gazette talked to several people in Montgomery County who made Maryland Public Information Act requests in 2013 about their experiences. For other Q&A profiles, go to www.gazette.net.
Name: Wally DeBord
Hometown: Splits time between Gaithersburg and Ocean City
Occupation: Retired (former public works operations director for city of Gaithersburg)
How many Maryland Public Information Act requests have you ever made (to any government body)? Estimate if needed: Only one.
In 2013, you asked the city of Gaithersburg for: information about the terms and conditions of Angel Jones’ separation from employment as city manager.
Did you get what you wanted? How was your experience?: (The city denied the request, citing a law that does not allow “personnel records” to be released.) “[They do a] good job of responding to requests, but they also do a good job of hiding when they want to hide when it comes to personnel matters. ... [I’m] not happy that they can, every time there’s a personnel issue, go into executive session and not have to reveal anything.” City Attorney N. Lynn Board, who responded to his request, “is a sharp cookie. She knows what she’s doing. She’ll go by the letter of the law.”
Do you have any advice for anyone else seeking public information?: “[You should] generally start with the city manager. He’s the one hired to deal with city business. He typically will send it to the appropriate person.”
— Lindsay A. Powers