This is a noncommercial FOIA request from a member of the news media for electronic production of documentation per the Texas Public Information Act, §6252-17a et seq. [TPIA], to this email address, to my attention, using the above-referenced research project code. TPIA requires that you "promptly produce" the requested records unless, within 10 days, you have sought an Attorney General's Opinion. If you deny any or all of this request, please cite each specific exemption you feel justifies the refusal to release the information and notify me of the appeal procedures available to me under the law. All documentation should be produced as PDFs, with the exception of photographs (which should be JPEG), audio files (which should be MP3), and video (which should be MP4 or MOV). If documentation files are too large to transmit in an email, transmit them to me either using a free file sharing service (such as Dropbox) or by sending multiple emails (as many as needed). I seek the following numbered categories of documentation for my research pursuant to news articles and a book I am writing that has interest and value to the public:
Copy of the following:
WHERE DOES HPLF GETS ITS MONEY: ( 1 ) Please provide documentation, written or recorded, of financial gifts, grants, loans, donations, or any other monies offered to and actually received by HPLF from the American Library Association [ALA], the Freedom to Read Foundation [FTRF], the Public Library Association, the Texas Library Association, the National Coalition Against Censorship, Open Society Foundations, or Drag Queen Story Hour, from 1 July 2018 to present. I expect FTRF to be the main source since it has an established pattern of quietly funding its acolytes, as discussed below. Further, ALA has in the past given HPLF anywhere from $250-$999. See: page 15 of “2017 Impact Report” https://www.houstonlibraryfoundation.org/s/Houston-Library-Foundation-Impact-Report-FY-17 I anticipate responding to this request will take 5 minutes.
WHAT’S BEING FUNDED AT HPL BY HLPF: ( 2 ) Please provide documentation, written or recorded, of financial gifts, grants, loans, donations, or any other monies offered and/or actually funded/disbursed by HPLF to Houston Public Library [HPL], from 1 July 2018 to present, including an itemization of each instance, for whom or what it was provided—including the drag queens or drag queen business(es), when, and the exact dollar amount. I anticipate responding to this request will take 5 minutes.
IS HOUSTON CITY CODE 24-5 TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION: ( 3 ) Please provide documentation, written or recorded, of discussion of Houston City Code 24-5, specifically, “Without limitation, the director is authorized to include provisions that govern the use of library premises by the public, including the use of the property around the library, in order to promote an environment that is protective of the health and well-being of patrons and children while at the library facility,” from 1 July 2018 to present. See: https://library.municode.com/tx/houston/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=COOR_CH24LI_ARTIINGE_S24-5RURE&fbclid=IwAR3MjIhvnaD8Q-uHVixLgJM9H_nWWB2R8DAucJONfW-k98ny9fkIFnfNK1c I anticipate responding to this request will take 10 minutes.
IS DRAG QUEEN STORYTIME ACCEPTABLE UNDER HOUSTON CITY CODE 24-5: ( 4 ) Please provide documentation, written or recorded, of discussion of how Drag Queen StoryTime relates to “understanding and celebrating all Houstonians’ similarities and differences, building positive relationships, and promoting a dialogue of acceptance, respect, and trust,” and any counterarguments thereto, from 1 July 2018 to present. See: https://www.houstonlibraryfoundation.org/s/HPLF-DQST-Statement-SM.pdf I anticipate responding to this request will take 10 minutes.
SEE DRAG QUEEN STORYTIME IN ACTION: ( 5 ) Please provide all photographs and videos taken during Drag Queen StoryTime events. Upon information and belief, HPL and HPLF employees/staff/appointed office holders/commissioners took photos and video at these events, using both library, foundation, or library consortia owned equipment and their personal cellphones. Time period is limited to 1 July 2018 to present. Be clear personal cellphones are covered by TPIA as long as the recordings do not “constitute an invasion of privacy” of the individual. Recording public Drag Queen StoryTime shows does not constitute an invasion of privacy of the individual making the recording. It is not believable people did not use their personal devices to make recordings, so they must be produced pursuant to TPIA as well. See Texas Government Code § 552.109: https://codes.findlaw.com/tx/government-code/gov-t-sect-552-109.html or https://web.archive.org/web/20180905094242/http://txla.org/IF-Open-Records I anticipate responding to this request will take 10 minutes.
HEAR DRAG QUEEN STORYTIME BEING DISCUSSED: ( 6 ) Please provide all voice mail recordings about Drag Queen StoryTime or the funding thereof. Such recordings are likely MP3 audio files organized by your voice mail system. Such recordings are likely to be in the voice mailboxes belonging to any chief executive/director/commissioner, any assistant executive/director/commissioner, any youth services director, and any public relations director. I anticipate responding to this request will take 15 minutes.
That completes this documentation request. The expected time for completion of the above requests by an experienced TPIA/FOIA officer is 55 minutes.
This is an attempt to determine if and to what extent outside influence is influencing local policy in Houston, TX, and whether local policy as reflected in Houston City Code 24-5 has been considered and applied or simply tossed aside intentionally or out of sheer ignorance of the law.
ALA makes a habit of influencing local communities with quiet money. In Highland Park, TX, for example, FTRF, an ALA entity, gave $5,000 dollars to local advocates of ALA’s political positions. See page 10: http://www.ala.org/aboutala/sites/ala.org.aboutala/files/content/governance/officers/eb_documents/2014_2015ebdocuments/ebd12_12_exec_dir_rpt_11dec14.pdf
ALA later saw to it that its local favorite in Highland Park was awarded with a “Robert B. Downs Intellectual Freedom Award” for doing what ALA wanted. See: https://www.dallasnews.com/news/highland-park/2015/12/10/highland-park-group-that-went-to-bat-for-books-is-recognized It is worthy to note that ALA arranged to have the same “Intellectual Freedom” award given to a library that facilitated then covered up the crime of child pornography viewing. See https://edgarcountywatchdogs.com/2014/12/university-of-illinois-gslis-gives-award-for-defending-child-pornography/
In West Bend, WI, ALA quietly slipped $1000 grant to a local acolyte, the existence of which was never made public until it was uncovered by a FOIA request, necessitating the need for the filing of this present TPIA request. See what was uncovered and the cozy financial relationship one local acolyte had with ALA and the library it supported to defeat a local whistleblower: http://westbend.pbworks.com/f/Hanrahan2Tyree051209.pdf
In the Houston matter, there may be more quiet money being used to promote interests of outside groups instead of local interests. There are definitely indications that this is so. For example, your HPLF stated, “Drag Queen Storytime has been volunteer-led and offered at no cost to the Houston Public Library, and no private or public funds were used to directly fund the program.” See: https://www.houstonlibraryfoundation.org/s/HPLF-DQST-Statement-SM.pdf
Notice the word “directly.” “[N]o private or public funds were used to directly fund the program.” That means funds were used indirectly. The public has a right to know.
ALA’s quiet money is always done indirectly. ALA is an organization that defends child pornography viewing ( https://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2017/01/brave-librarian-speaks-out.html ) and the sexual harassment of librarians, calling it “dubious,” ( https://www.librarians.cc/2018/02/ala-ignores-sexual-harassment.html ) among other serious problems including homophobia ( http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2014/07/gay-hate-at-your-library.html ) and antisemitism ( http://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2018/11/antisemitism-at-ALA.html ). Such an organization giving quiet money to local acolytes to defeat local whistleblowers and local law is a serious concern. People should be fully informed so as not to be misled into doing what ALA would have them do if ALA only had the direct power to do so.
This TPIA hopes to expose the extent of ALA’s financial involvement in Houston as it may explain why those in power may be ignoring Houston City Code 24-5 about “promot[ing] an environment that is protective of the health and well-being of patrons and children while at the library facility,” and exposing the community to seriously risk of liability. ALA’s former de facto leader and creator of FTRF, also a former board member of the Illinois ACLU, actually said, as quoted in the Chicago Tribune, “I get very concerned when we start hearing people who want to convert this country into a safe place for children. …. I am adult. I want available what I need to see.” See: https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-2005-06-23-0506230234-story.html
I have to wonder if the people of Houston agree with that statement enough to toss aside Houston City Code 24-5, that is explicitly “protective” of children, and is directly opposed to the anything-goes views of ALA. As Governor Greg Abbott stated in an analogous case, “Don’t Mess With Texas. We don’t want out-of-staters rigging our elections.” See: https://twitter.com/GregAbbott_TX/status/1109933040724312064 Do citizens want out-of-staters at ALA rigging the libraries instead of complying with local law designed to “protect” children? Governor Abbott raises an excellent point, and the response to this TPIA may help educate him and the Houston community.
Even Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is in on the action. He stated, “The Fact is: Storytime is funded by the Houston Library Foundation. No tax dollars are involved. The program was requested by patrons of the Library.” See: https://twitter.com/SylvesterTurner/status/1107424485811146755 So the present TPIA request is to determine the extent of that funding, who are the sources of that funding, and where specifically is that funding going.
The responses to this TPIA request are a matter of great public concern. So great that even Texas Governor Greg Abbott raises the issue, “How much are you paying for a library where a registered sex offender participated in Drag Queen Storytime? The Fact is, Houston spends plenty of taxpayer dollars for services that are not essential. Houston, just like other cities, can handle property tax reform. #txlege” See: https://twitter.com/GregAbbott_TX/status/1107418383568506880 Well, Governor, it is likely there will be more news about the harm the library has done by ignoring its duties. The present TPIA request is to determine how much money is funding Drag Queen StoryTime where a registered sex offender participated. I hope to present the Governor with my findings.
Therefore, in respect of the above, and given the eyes of Houston and the Governor of Texas are upon you, please respond to my TPIA request without any of the usual open government gamesmanship, such as what HPL has done to prevent the public from learning the facts. I still have not received any documents even after the Texas Attorney General had to force compliance. See Ken Paxton’s decision here: https://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2019/03/houston-library-forced-foia.html Only yesterday was I informed by HPL the documents would be made available to me, but only for a $145 fee. So I still don’t have the documents. I’m a reporter and HPL is charging fees despite the law and dragging out the process. This will result in my requesting relief from the Texas Attorney General, running up further legal costs—to defend despite open government laws unforced errors that allowed a convicted pedophile to read to children. No doubt I will be blamed as legal fees rise due to HLP’s defense of Drag Queen StoryTime despite city law and state law. I say this in the hope HLPF will not go down the path of HPL and will simply turn over the documentation as requested and as required by law.
TPIA gives the public the right to request access to government information. The same applies to HPLF, an organization whose members are appointed by the Mayor and approved by City Council. Therefore, please respond to the above noncommercial TPIA request in accordance with the law. See: City of Houston Code of Ordinances, Chapter 24, Article II, Sections 24-25 through 24-35. https://www.municode.com/library/TX/houston/codes/code_of_ordinances?nodeId=COOR_CH24LI_ARTIILIBO_S24-25LIBOCR
Also, constructive criticism, consider adding HPLF to “Public Information Act Requests” that has already been updated once as a direct result of my first FOIA request to HPL. Not being listed on that page gives the false impression that HLPF is not subject to TPIA. See: http://www.houstontx.gov/pia.html
I am a reporter on library matters where I publish on both SafeLibraries® and on Sexual Harassment of Librarians. As such I may publish anything you send me. Thus, I ask that all fees for the production of TPIA responses be waived: "If a governmental body determines that producing the information requested is in the 'public interest' because it will primarily benefit the general public, the governmental body shall waive or reduce the charges." "Shall," not "may." Source: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/sites/default/files/2018-06/PIA_handbook_2018_0.pdf 194; Gov’t Code § 552.267(a). That this is a matter of public interest is evident by the international media attention the library has received as a result of the library's admitted "oversight" in allowing a registered child sex offender to read to children at Drag Queen StoryTime, and in Governor Abbott’s message quoted above.
Further exposure of more drag queens is likely, given the complete dereliction of duty of the library. See https://twitter.com/ShannonTracy123/status/1110749040290029569 So this issue is of current interest.
There are even indications that this is a matter beyond mere dereliction of duty bordering on intentional refusal to protect children when comments like this one from eleven weeks ago appear in a public Facebook group called ALA Think Tank, as seen in the URL, but later renamed to hide the connection to ALA, “Someone referred to it as ‘pedophile storytime’ to my coworker and she was really confused until I said ‘They mean drag queen story hour’ and she's like ‘But drag queens and pedophiles are completely unrelated?’ YEP.” So librarians, likely including some at HPL, were aware of the concerns and still ignored them. That is bad. See: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ALAthinkTANK/permalink/2440967925976013/
Where emails are involved, also provide the BCC as well as the CC and the TO. As you know, BCC is for the convenience of the sender, not for circumventing public information laws. If senders/recipients include distribution lists HLPF created, then please provide the document that lists the individual recipient email addresses in any distribution list; again, distribution lists are for the convenience of the sender, not for circumventing the law. Further, if HPLF business has been conducted via the use of personal emails, then please provide those emails as well. Conducting HLPF business on personal emails is not a valid means for circumventing TPIA.
Any document written or recorded is included as well. That includes voice mails, audio recordings, video recordings, transcripts or minutes of any public meetings. HLPF board executive session recordings or minutes are not included in my request if they have not already been made public.
Written or recorded documents also include those made in any telephonic, electronic, or physical meeting with anyone acting on behalf of any library association such as the ALA. ALA trains librarians that written or recorded documents from ALA-provided trainings, meetings, conferences, etc., are ALA proprietary and may not be released publicly. That ALA claim is false. TPIA controls, not ALA. If a public employee attended anything at public expense, then anything learned/recorded at such an event or as a result thereof has been made public and is discoverable under TPIA no matter what ALA claims. The public has a right to know what business has been conducted at public expense, especially where the library goofed, allowed a pedophile to read stories to children, and is now seeking to expand the drag queen story hour program further with the help of HLPF.
Be clear ALA top leadership uses personal email to direct librarians to destroy public documents precisely to prevent production under state sunshine laws like TPIA. Example from the private email of the current Interim Director and Deputy Director Deborah Caldwell-Stone, Esq., of the ALA Office for Intellectual Freedom: “Subject: URGENT - must delete all documents related to 17 Dec crisis communications workshop .… Remove these from your servers today and destroy hard copies. This is an attempt by two individuals to obtain privileged information …. we cannot allow anything from 17 Dec to be produced in response to FOIA.” See: “Librarians Ordered to Destroy Public Documents Revealing Homophobia at American Library Association and Crime in Libraries,” by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries®, 26 April 2018, https://safelibraries.blogspot.com/2018/04/librarians-ordered-to-destroy.html
Thank you very much for your attention to this matter.
[NOTE: If anyone wishes to contact me privately/confidentially, perhaps to provide some of this documentation, use SafeLibraries@pm.me.]
27 March 2019 (Wednesday early AM)
Houston Public Library Foundation
550 McKinney St
Houston, TX 77002
Re: FOIA Research Project #2019-03-27 = Houston Public Library Foundation - Drag Queen Funding - 1
Above is my 27 March 2019 FOIA request. I would love to think of it as a model FOIA request for others to follow. It's specific, anticipates some of the gamesmanship recalcitrant libraries play because they are hiding something, and it looks at the law of the state or municipality that libraries must follow and sees if those rules are being followed or have even been considered. Get a head start in your own state here:
- "State Sample FOI Request Letters," by NFOIC National Freedom of Information Coalition.
The response to the above FOIA request is that the City of Houston has written to the Texas Attorney General asking to be relieved from having to respond to requests made under open government laws:
In this case we have a library that has allowed two registered sex offenders to read to children. The FOIA requests are to shed light on how and why this happened, with an eye toward preventing it from happening in the future. But not only is the library blocking public disclosure of this, it is also actively seeking to ramp up more and more of the inherently dangerous activity. Such activity can go on and further harm the community precisely because the library is blocking access to public documents that might disclose what's going on so as to allow the public to decide how best to proceed or to persuade their government to do so.
In other words, the library is defying the law or playing FOIA games to further expose the community to harm.
"For years, advocates hailed Texas as a leader in government transparency." However, learn how one citizen feels bullied by the Boeing law in Texas via @TexasTribune. https://t.co/C7RkJXc36J— NFOIC (@NFOIC) March 29, 2019
What's a FOIA game? I asked for who are the donors to the library foundation. The City says it will not supply that under Boeing Co v. Paxton, a case that allowed a private company that contracts with a public entity to block disclosure by that public entity because it might hurt business. There is no private company involved in this matter, only the foundation itself that argues giving away its donor list would harm its own ability to raise funds—it doesn't do any business. And none of the private donors contract with the library foundation, they simply donate money. The Boeing case doesn't even apply, but the City raises it anyway. That's a FOIA game.
a feather in the donor's cap, one freely broadcast because of the goodwill that brings. Ever seen a stadium plastered with the name of its major donor? It's likely already broadcast by the various donors. The excuse is a false one. Again, the reasoning of Boeing doesn't apply.
How do we know Boeing is a problem? Is it used by public entities to block disclosure of public information? Yes. Texas legislators are working to get around the effect of the case that has taken a formerly transparent state and turned it into the exact opposite. So much so that even a library that allows registered sex offenders to read to kids gets to claim Boeing applies so it can block the public from learning about how that debacle happened. Is Boeing supposed to protect a library as it allows pedophiles to read to children? Read what legislators are doing to reverse this:
- "Texas Senate Approves Kirk Watson Bill Aimed at Bolstering Public Information Act," by Sean Collins Walsh, Austin American-Statesman, 10 April, 2019:
In the Boeing decision, the court granted private companies that contract with governmental entities enormous latitude to claim that documents and information should be kept secret, including in some cases the contract itself and the amount of taxpayer money involved.
- "Court Decisions Have Weakened Texas' Open-Government Laws. Advocates Hope That's Addressed This Year; Lawmakers In the House and Senate Have Filed Bills That Aim to Address a Pair of 2015 Court Decisions Seen As Threats to Open Government," by Catherine Marfin, The Texas Tribune, 26 March 2019:
In its decision to allow the University of Houston to keep the contracts hidden, Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office cited a 2015 Texas Supreme Court case known as Boeing Co. v. Paxton, which expanded what is considered a trade secret, or proprietary information of private companies that government agencies can withhold from the public.
“As a citizen, you just feel bullied,” Terrell said. “They hold all the cards. Boeing gives them the right to withhold the entire contract. It’s [a way] to just shut down everything.”
The Senate passed my two public information bills today. The result of two years of negotiations, the bills ensure that taxpayers will be able access important information about how public dollars are spent and close some big loopholes. On to the House @VoteGiovanni #txlege https://t.co/LxNG92XrKy— Senator Kirk Watson (@KirkPWatson) April 10, 2019
And the Houston Public Library Foundation has played this game before, using Boeing Co. v Paxton to block past FOIA requests. See:
You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Public Information Act (the "Act"), chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID # 733956 (GC 25439).
The City of Houston (the "city") received a request for information pertaining to funding and donor information of the Houston Public Library Foundation. You claim the submitted information is excepted from disclosure under sections 552.101 and 552.104 of the Government Code. We have considered the exceptions you claim and reviewed the submitted information.
Section 552.104 excepts from disclosure "information that, if released, would give advantage to a competitor or bidder." Gov't Code § 552.104. The "test under section 552.104 is whether knowing another bidder's [or competitor's information] would be an advantage, not whether it would be a decisive advantage." Boeing Co. v. Paxton, 466 S.W.3d 831, 841 (Tex. 2015). You state the city competes with other entities to obtain donations for funding. The city states it has specific marketplace interests in the submitted information and relies on donations to fund several library programs. Further, you assert disclosure of the information at issue would provide other entities access to a list of all the donors with whom the city has cultivated relationships. You claim release of the information at issue would be detrimental to the city's competitive advantage in seeking donations. After review of the information at issue and consideration of the arguments, we find the city has established the release of the information we indicated would give advantage to a competitor or bidder. Accordingly, the city may withhold the information we indicated under section 552.104(a) of the Government Code. However, we find the city failed to establish the release of the remaining information at issue would give advantage to a competitor or bidder. Thus, we conclude the remaining information at issue may not be withheld under section 552.104(a) of the Government Code. The city must release the remaining information.The Texas Attorney General sure got fooled.
Now, as we discuss Drag Queen Story Hour funding and how to FOIA libraries for information, and how libraries are letting pedophiles read to children, keep in mind that not only does the American Library Association actively support libraries in spreading Drag Queen Story Time throughout America (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, etc.), but at the same time it actively attacks any and all watchdogs, an ALA trait, calling them "censors"—and it makes no difference if your library allows registered sex offender pedophiles to read to children like at the Houston Public Library that's blocking FOIA requests—and ALA's "Office for Intellectual Freedom" even used "National Library Week" to launch this attack as well:
ALA has noticed an increase in attempts to censor drag queen story hours & LGBTQIA+ programming, as well as challenges to remove database access. Learn more about library trends & issues in @ALALibrary's report: https://t.co/1hZgzBuN2u #NationalLibraryWeek pic.twitter.com/UdrHEKFjSA— ALA OIF (@OIF) April 11, 2019
And don't think people aren't noticing:
That's not censorship that's called protecting children....really telling they don't seem interested in protecting the children https://t.co/AL1UMcSdgX— yvonneburton ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@_YvonneBurton) April 12, 2019
- "ALA Finally Acknowledges Pedophiles Read to Kids at Inherently Unsafe Drag Queen Story Hour," by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries®, 3 April 2019.
- "The Parent Trap: ALA Uses Banned Books Week to Ridicule Patrons Complying with ALA Materials Reconsideration Policies," by Dan Kleinman, SafeLibraries®, 29 September 2010.
NOTE ADDED 19 APRIL 2019:
Today I sent a letter to the Texas Attorney General to attempt to counteract the library's latest effort to continue to hide its malfeasance from the public. Here it is:
Just filed w @TXAG response to @HoustonTX effort to use Boeing v Paxton to block #FOIA on @houlibraryfdn re pedophiles reading to kids @houstonlibrary #DragQueenStoryHour:https://t.co/TWxQ61NDDz@NFOIC @TxFOIFT @KenPaxtonTX @KirkPWatson @VoteGiovanni #txlege @ShannonTracy123— Dan Kleinman (@SafeLibraries) April 19, 2019
NOTE ADDED 26 JUNE 2019:
Yesterday, 25 June 2019, I learned that I would receive absolutely no documents in response to this request. In a nutshell, someone else has filed a lawsuit that is ongoing at this moment, so the law allows the library foundation to avoid responding during the pendency of the lawsuit.
Therefore I will wait until the lawsuit is over.
I note that I will be filing a substantially similar request on the library itself, in addition to the library foundation. I wanted this foundation matter to complete first as a matter of efficiency and good practice. Sure enough, I can now tell that a similar FOIA on the library will result in a similar answer/non-answer. So by waiting as I have, I have saved Houston some time and some money.
I still will note that Houston refuses to release information about how pedophile drag queens got to read to Houston's children.
Here are the relevant documents:
- 2019 06 17 - AG Kunst to Houston Kanu - AG Ruling - 25856 - FOIA 4.pdf
- 2019 06 25 - Houston Simms to SafeLibraries - Kleinman 25856 AG Ruling Memo - FOIA 4.pdf
URL of this page:
@ALALibrary @HouLibraryFdn @HoustonLibrary @NFOIC @OIF @TXAG @_YvonneBurton
@ALALibrary @HouLibraryFdn @HoustonLibrary @NFOIC @OIF @TXAG @_YvonneBurton