Friday, November 20, 2009
Bruce and Sara Schundler: Champions of Mesa Verde National Park and FOIA
Heroic FOI work is being done by former NJ public official, Bruce Schundler, and his wife as they seek accountability at the Mesa Verde National Park.
Initially trying to avoid the bureaucratic costs of a FOIA request but ultimately forced to file a formal FOIA request and not seeking any statutory fee waivers, the seasonal park ranger wanted information regarding sister relationships at the park and the travel expenditures and habits of Superintendent Larry Wiese. But, as he wrote to Jack O'Brian of the Intermountain Regional Office of the National Park Service, Mesa Verde National Park officials acted under "a veil of secrecy about everything, and an undercurrent of fear and intimidation if anyone asks for information or if any divulges virtually anything but the most routine information."
Schundler also wrote to Alexandra Mallus of the Department of Interior regarding the personal toll that his FOI efforts had taken amidst rumors that Wiese "let it be known that he doesn't want my wife, Sara, and me to be hired again as seasonal interpretive rangers... Perhaps now you can appreciate why sometimes trying to make government open and transparent can be not only frustrating, it can be painful, it can get personal, and it can have financial consequences."
Schundler hosts a website chronicling his FOIA struggles. Although he was granted his modified and revised request in full, Schundler is appealing with the Department of Interior regarding the amount and quality of information provided pursuant to his request. Schundler also chronicles how, in the midst of Schundler's FOI requests, Superintendent Larry Wiese resigned his post.
Check it out, click here.