“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”
Confucius (Teacher, philosopher, and political theorist, 551-479 BC)
How far will one man go to prove to the rest of the world that he alone is right? Dare I say to the edge? On March 8th. 2010 I took the liberty to ask Mark Halburn for some information about his current issue with the City of Hurricane. All I asked for was simply the name of the attorney he is going to use to “bring action” against the City of Hurricane and the name of the journalist that had joined him when he executed an FOIA request. What I got was a no comment about the attorney and the name of the journalist. A freelance hack by the name of Lawrence J. Smith. A man so popular amongst readers in Putnam County that his Twitter account (one of the current, most popular main stream networking sites) is chock full of…23 followers.
That, however, is neither here nor there. The issue I take today is Mark’s slanderous libel he has bestowed upon the City of Hurricane, a city that has become sort of sister city to this writer. In Mark’s vain attempt to prove that he wasn’t wrong in his recent article about zoning changes that affected his second wife’s dwelling (in which he comically proved himself wrong with incorrect documents), The Publisher has posted yet another article. I would dare say that of all the “articles” he has written and of all the yelling and screaming he had done on his Wal Mart blog, this recent article borders on the criminal.
The latest fiasco starts rather incorrectly. A copy and past of his Freedom of Information Act request he sent late in the afternoon on February 12th, 2010. Why someone would start a “news article” with that is beyond me. In it is proof of his own mistake and he doesn’t even see that.
“I plan to exercise my right to exercise my right to view and copy such documents with my own copier. Please contact me to set up an afternoon appointment for me to make these copies.”
This was underlined, by the way, as sort of an ‘in tour face’ statement, in my opinion. What The Publisher failed to realize was that in that statement alone, he had just put all the “misleading” squarely on his shoulders of responsibility. In a nutshell, he didn’t read what he was given. He didn’t get what he wanted because of this line in his request.
“1) All records related to the zoning of the homes and land owned by Dolores Martin-Halburn, Margaret Martin, and John Clay, located on what is now called Grace Drive, in Hurricane, WV. These records are to include any and all Hurricane City Council voting records and minutes related to the zoning of said properties.”
As a matter of fact here, nowhere in this FOIA request does he state the specifics of said property to even give the city a decent chance to find said records. No parcel number. No tax map identifiers. The city did not mislead or fail to deliver what was asked for. It was Mark himself that failed. How did he expect them to find exactly what he needed when he didn’t help at all with any information supplied. He just demanded.
Since he failed to read what was supplied he posted an “article” about how he was able to “nail the Mayor’s backside” to some proverbial wall. When it was pointed out he was dead wrong in a published “article” on his “news site” he totally blew a nut. Now he is bringing action against the city and supposedly has proof. He doesn’t. He just has more of the same rhetoric. The newest “article” starts;
“An attempt to mislead (trashy web site named removed to avoid possible, future action) by City of Hurricane officials has backfired with legal action being planned against the town.
In February, (that 1996 web site) filed a Freedom of Information Act request with Mayor Scott D. Edwards asking for “All records related to the zoning of the homes and land owned by Dolores Martin-Halburn, Margaret Martin, and John Clay, located on what is now called Grace Drive, in Hurricane, WV. These records are to include any and all Hurricane City Council voting records and minutes related to the zoning of said properties.”
Firstly, he’s only thinking about bringing action against the city. He says he has lined up an attorney but he won’t supply the name. That’s because no one is going to touch any suit Mark Halburn wants to bring against the city, or anyone for that matter. It’s Mark blowing smoke.
Secondly, as I mentioned earlier, Mark failed himself when he did not specify a parcel number or tax map number. The city did their best to get together what he had requested. The city didn’t mislead Mark, he misled himself.
“Those records should have included zoning maps, legal announcements in newspapers, and correspondence with affected homeowners. And they should have been provided within five business days of the time that the request was filed.”
Uh, no. That’s actually an incorrect assumption. Again, no information was supplied to help in that task so no zoning maps and corresponding documents could be provided. Oh yeah, there is also this;
“West Virginia Code §11-1C-7 requires specific payment for the production of the tax map sheet.” (Thanks Lenny!)
No matter how much you beg and plead to have reproduction costs dropped or changed, you are not going to get what you want unless you pay. As a matter of fact, Mark even tried.
“I request a waiver of all fees for this request. Disclosure of the requested information to me is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government, and is not primarily in the interest of a business trying to get information on industrial competitors.”
Ha! Public interest. No one but Mark Halburn is interested in Mark Halburn. It should have read “in the interest of creating a libel and slanderous account of Hurricane…” Plus, and I am beating a bloody, dead horse here, he didn’t supply enough information to get what HE wanted. Getting back to the article, he really starts to bite in deep.
“But the City of Hurricane violated the law, waiting until the first week of March to provide two documents that it represented as 1994 zoning changes for the properties listed in the FOIA request. PutnamLIVE.com published those documents based on statements made by a city staffer. Freelance reporter Lawrence J. Smith witnessed the statements. Maps for the properties were not provided, despite the specific FOIA request for “All documents.”
There is only one problem: The city lied. Those documents represented property where Saturn of Charleston-Huntington and the current Hurricane Chevrolet later were constructed.”
Ok. The City of Hurricane did not violate anything. Mark likes to harp on this “5 day” thing but here are some simple facts. He sent his request on February 12th. A Friday. Monday was a state holiday. No doubt the request was accepted as of Tuesday the 16th. They have 5 “business” days to process a request. That’s just a guideline, actually, for a request such as this. There was no pressing matter discussed or proven. As it is, they had until (officially) the 22nd of February, taking into account holidays and non business days. Add in the fact that they have a city to run, had NO INFORMATION on exactly what was requested and you can toss in a few days to that guideline of 5 days. Mark also harps on “all documents” but you don’t get what you don’t pay for. See above. Oh yeah, even the city manager knew Mark screwed up.
“Edwards tried to pass the buck for his city’s misconduct by sending (the horrible excuse of a web site) the following email: ‘I am assuming that you did not read the property description on the Zoning Change Planning Commission letter……. Since it does NOT describe the property where your wife’s house is. It specifically describes the property where Hurricane Chevrolet is.'”
This is what you get when you do not provide adequate information in your FOIA, douche bag. You get nothing and you get called out for it.
“(Shit for Brains) could not read the maps because the city failed to provide them-as required by the FOIA request.”
Again, you didn’t pay for them. Let me remind you; West Virginia Code §11-1C-7? This sinking in yet?
“Several days after (that site we won’t mention) called out Edwards to provide the proper documents, City Manager Benjamin Newhouse sent an email that, again, only partially complied with the FOIA request, but, again, indicate that the city changed the zoning (During a May 3rd, 1993 meeting) of the Walmart neighbors from residential to business-something that they (including the wife of this publisher) have all said was done without their permission or knowledge and after they bought homes that were zoned residential.”
So what? Really? So what? We already knew the zoning had been changed. The only person that cares is Mark Halburn. He’s just so embarrassed that he is wrong and has been proven wrong that he is all pissy and now just creating the misconception of impropriety. That’s wrong. I proved that the night before this blog posting on my radio show.
“So even in the second set of presented documents, the city has apparently contradicted its longstanding statements that the Walmart neighbors bought commercial properties. In a vain attempt to save face, it is digging a deeper ethical hole that it cannot possibly climb out of. It is important that no one at city hall is now denying that the zoning of the Walmart neighbor’s homes was switched. The question that does remain is what, if anything, will Edwards and the city do to rectify the injustice.”
Looking at this in a rational and realistic manner, Mark is all bent out of shape over one mans off handed remark about “buying commercial property” when in fact they did not. So Mark sent himself on this wild goose chase that dates back 17 frickin years. Something that has only become an issue in the last few because of Wal Mart. The man has a sick affliction over all this and is now creating his own potential problems of libel and slander. Something he always complains about when people talk about him. He ends his recent diatribe with this;
“Violating the FOIA law is a misdemeanor in West Virginia. Unfortunately, Putnam County Prosecutor Mark A. Sorsaia effectively protects violators by refusing to enforce the law.”
Mark? You never admitted that you were wrong in the article you recently have buried on your web site. The path you are about to choose is also wrong. Like everything else you do in life you are not approaching this with any rationality, clarity and certainly with no realistic outcomes expected. You are throwing a temper tantrum over nothing. Your apathetic, entitlist ideals continue to sap the energy and finances of a perfectly normal city such as Hurricane. The city is not going to do the work for you, Mark. They are not expected to and should not have to. Hell, if you were unsure of your tax map code or your parcel number because of a lack of tax record upkeep, well, that’s on you. But Jesus Christ, man, they even give you a number to call so you can get that information.
Face it, dickcheese, you failed. You failed yourself and like all the other apathetic shitholes in life, you have to go and finger point and blame someone else. Well, I want you to take my suggestion, Mark, to help you find your answers. The answers to the blame, the fault and who is responsible for the wretched condition you are in and the direction that we, as a nation are heading if things don’t change. If you do this one thing Mark, it will also reveal the one person who can help you the most. You like to finger point, so I implore you to take your finger, Mark and stand before the biggest mirror in the house and point…and you shall have all your answers.