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Cloverleaf horsemen being stonewalled by county

April 17, 2012
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On March 5, 2012, the Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association (CSOA) sent a request to the offices of the Prince George's County Executive and the Minority Business Development Division requesting access to public records dated within the last year regarding gaming. By law, the records requested were due April 6, 2012.

To date, CSOA has not received the records and worse, received communication from the county offices essentially denying our legitimate request through the public records law. The county is refusing our request and suggesting that we access such documents through the court system – further delaying and adding significant cost to the request.

"What I don't understand is what does the county have to hide,” asked Tom Cooke, president of CSOA. "We made a very simple and direct ask of the county: to supply us with records of meetings and other activities related to gaming in Prince George's County. Since organizations such as ours, with a vested interest in gaming in the county, were shut out of the process when the County Executive apparently struck a back room deal with the developers of National Harbor, we have the right to know what discussions took place and with whom.”

 

"What's worse in this whole process is that the community was also left out of the process. Elected officials, community leaders and the general public were left in the dark as the County Executive spent who knows how much on a supposed ‘economic study' and polling to support his deal with National Harbor. We all have a right to know what this deal has cost the taxpayers of Prince George's and who exactly it will benefit – because it certainly isn't the public at large,” noted Cooke.

 

In a letter dated April 2nd, county officials denied our request stating it was "overly broad and unduly vague”. In a subsequent April 6th letter, in a contradictory statement, county officials said that before providing the requested information, we "…must provide specific names of County employees who are involved with gaming.” Obviously, this is the essence of our request, which is information possessed only by the county. In both letters the county concluded by suggesting we may pursue the request through the court system.

"The County may think they can get away with this kind of hide and seek game but they are sadly mistaken. They are giving us every reason to conclude that they have something to hide -- otherwise they would have released the requested records,” stated Cooke. "If we have to use the court system, so be it. This is our livelihood at stake and we will not stand idly by as some may strike deals behind closed doors while leaving the rest of us in the dark,” concluded Cooke.

 

The CSOA is providing the County until the end of the week to release the requested records in their entirety. If the request is not met, the organization intends to seek other means to release the records for the public's benefit to know what the County Executive's office has done regarding the issue of gaming in the county. (Cloverleaf Standardbred Owners Association)

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