Solicitation of Applicants for the State Public Information Act Compliance Board
Md. Code. Ann., General Provisions Article §§ 4-1A-01 to -10
On October 1, 2015, amendments to the Maryland Public Information Act (“PIA”) went into effect. One such change involved the creation of the State Public Information Compliance Board (the “Board”), which has the power to resolve disputes concerning an “unreasonable” fee of more than $350 sought by a custodian when responding to a PIA request. The Board consists of five members with one member coming from a nonprofit who works on issues related to open government and another member possessing knowledge of the PIA having served as an official custodian. The remaining three members will be private citizens with at least one of the five members being an attorney admitted to the Maryland Bar. The Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, will then appoint all five members.
Applications for the Three Private Citizens
Individuals who are interested in serving on the Board are encouraged to submit their applications by November 13, 2015, assuming they are not (1) “a custodian of a public record”; (2) “a member of the news media”; or (3) “a staff member or spokesperson for an organization that represents the interests of custodians or applicants for public records.”
- Application Procedures: If you qualify, please submit a resume and a completed application to the Appointments Office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Evaluation Criteria: When evaluating applicants for the Board, the Governor shall consider (1) “the need for geographic, political, racial, ethnic, cultural, and gender diversity” and (2) the Board’s neutrality.
- Procedures for Resolving Conflicts of Interest: Upon submission of an application, the Appointments Office will contact applicants concerning the completion of an Appointee Exemption Disclosure Form (“Form No. 5”) with both the Appointments Office and the State Ethics Commission. The State Ethics Commission has determined that the Board is an executive unit and the members of the Board are public officials pursuant to the Public Ethics Law. The applicant will have the ability to request an exemption for conflicts of interest relating to employment or financial interests at the time of appointment. The remaining conflict of interest provisions under the State Ethics Law remain in place regardless of whether any exemption for employment or financial interest is granted.
Nomination from the Representatives of the Open Government and News Media Communities
In addition to the three private citizens, one Board member shall be an individual (1) “from a nongovernmental nonprofit group that is organized in the State”; (2) “who works on issues related to transparency or open government”; and (3) “who is nominated by representatives of the open government and news media communities.” On October 14, 2015, the Office of the Governor sent the following letter to the heads of the Maryland | Delaware | DC Press Association and Common Cause, soliciting a nomination from the open government and news media communities.
Nomination from the Maryland Association of Counties and the Maryland Municipal League
The final Board member shall be an individual (1) that has “knowledge of the provisions” of the PIA; (2) has “served as an official custodian in the State”; and (3) “be nominated by the Maryland Association of Counties and the Maryland Municipal League.” On October 14, 2015, the Office of the Governor sent the following letter to the Presidents of the Maryland Association of Counties and the Maryland Municipal League, soliciting a nomination from the custodian community.
Names and Qualifications of Applicants
PIA Compliance Board Members:
- Christopher Eddings – Nongovt Nonprofit Rep.
- Deborah F. Moore-Carter – Custodian Knowledge/Experience
- Rene C. Swafford – Private Citizen (Attorney)
- John H. West Private Citizen – CHAIR
- Darren Wigfield – Private Citizen
Pursuant to amended PIA, the “names and qualifications of applicants shall be posted” on this website.
- Christopher A. Eddings
- Former President and Publisher of The Daily Record, current strategic management, media and leadership consultant and director of the MDDC Foundation. Sponsored by the MDDC Press Association.
- Ann LoLordo
- Director of Communications and Editorial Services for JHPIEGO. Former Baltimore Sun reporter and Opinion Editor. Nominated by MDDC and Common Cause.
- Norris P. West
- Director of Strategic Communications for the Annie E. Casey Foundation and former reporter for the Baltimore Sun, covering legal affairs, business, nonprofit organizations, and housing issues.
- Deborah F. Moore-Carter
- Labor Commissioner for Baltimore City, nominated by MACO and MML.
- Bernard L. Jennings
- Managing Principal of CapStone Consulting (concentrates on business plan and strategy development; marketing, fundraising; government, community, alumni, and B2B relations) and former Vice-President of University Advancement for Morgan State University; served on the Maryland Legal Services Corporation Board
- Susan A. Mihok
- Maryland attorney and formal federal prosecutor
- Michael J. Ranelli
- Musician and teacher with an interest in public information access and citizen involvement in state affairs
- Rene C. Swafford
- Greensboro Town Council member and private law practitioner in Caroline County
- Cassandra B.Y. Tomarchio
- Program Analyst and executive officer with US Army CECOM with substantial communications and public affairs experience in the public sector
- John H. (Butch) West, III
- Baltimore County lawyer specializing in business litigation and maritime law with substantial arbitration experience
- Darren S. Wigfield
- DoD Cybersecurity Regulatory Compliance Officer with a strong IT background. Serves on Frederick County Workforce Development Board and Republican Central Committee.
- Shannon Dawkins Wrenn
- Policy Analyst for University of Maryland, Baltimore Office of Administration and Finance