by Irvin Muchnick
Concussion Inc., which has a lot of experience in this area, is gearing up for possible public records disputes with the city governments of Fort Lauderdale and Plantation, Florida. In different ways, the two municipalities, in our view, might be withholding what should be open information in their files on investigations of USA Swimming coach Alex Pussieldi.
As we’ve been reporting, Pussieldi was credibly and redundantly accused in 2004 of secretly videotaping foreign swimmers who lived with him, at least one of whom was his legal ward. In addition, either during the same period or some time between 2004 and 2007, Pussieldi was accused of maintaining videos of his own sex with underage boys. Yet he remained in coaching positions in Fort Lauderdale and Broward County for nine years after his misleadingly communicated 2004 resignation from the Fort Lauderdale Swim Team.
Last Friday the Fort Lauderdale city attorney’s office produced for us 19 pages of new documents, from the files of the police and the parks and recreation department. There are many redactions, some of them extensive.
I asked assistant city attorney Cole Copertino two questions.
1. The documents have blank white space rather than clearly marked blacked-out content. This does not conform to practices in previous public records disclosures in my experience. I believe I would receive legal advice that you are obliged to show where content was withheld on an otherwise released page of a document.
2. What are the specific exemptions claimed for each individual redaction? So far Copertino has only given me a blanket assertion of redactions “pursuant to 119.071(j)(1), 119.071(2)(h)(1)(a) and 119.071(2)(h)(1)(b) of the Florida Statutes.”
In addition, there is the mystery of the 2007 “packet” anonymously delivered to city commissioners in January 2007, and reported later that year by the Broward-Palm Beach New Times. Fort Lauderdale claims it has no such records in hand.
From Plantation, I requested all emails sent to J.P. Cote by Robert Mazer of the police and Jimmy Parmenter, head coach of the city-owned USA Swimming club. Cote is the Florida parent who complained, to both the police and USA Swimming, that he saw Pussieldi inappropriately touching one of his swimmers during a meet in Plantation in November 2012.
City clerk Susan Slattery responded by saying there were no emails from Parmenter to Cote. I asked her to clarify if Plantation was claiming that emails sent from Parmenter and pertaining to city business were exempt from disclosure because they might have shown an AOL email address rather than plantation.org.
I also am asking for attachments from Parmenter’s emails to Cote: meet entry database searches establishing that the police were provided with many more than three names to contact. (Mazer’s police report said he called three parties and only reached two.)