SableGate: The Drums of War

More than 200 people showed up tonight at the Mt. Lebanon Recreation Center for a strategy/bitch session about SableGate. I had to leave before the anger got channeled into productivity, but we're almost three weeks into the game, and the anger is still at a fever pitch. Expect some legal moves shortly, with a smaller group using lawyers and crowbars with various courts and/or agencies to pry open the lid of secrecy.

More than one lawyer at the meeting pointed out that confidentiality clauses in settlement agreements between public agencies and their former employees can't be enforced in Pennsylvania. (The case is Tribune-Review Pub. Co. v. Westmoreland County Housing Authority, 833 A.2d 112 (Pa. 2003).) The School Board may still try to hide behind exceptions to public records laws, but there's nothing legally to prevent Margery Sable from explaining what happened. (Nothing but her career -- but in truth, at this point I can't imagine her being hired by another district *unless* she comes out swinging in self-defense.)

Several speakers urged caution, as in, we have to find out what happened before we throw the School Board out. One person noted that we should be careful about what we ask for -- we may find out things that we didn't want to know, and we may even find that the Board did the right thing. Does that person know something we all don't? I smell the smoke of a smoking gun! I'll have more on the meeting, I hope, tomorrow.

Meanwhile, a shout out to Benjamin at Democracy for Pittsburgh for taking note of SableGate, and to his commenter, Ed, who points out that if Senator Rick Santorum had never sold his house in Mt. Lebanon, our spendthrift School Board may have been willing to finance a cyber-education for his kids while the good Senator and the family lived in Virginia. It's too bad that his new town, Penn Hills, had to fight about all that money.


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Pittsblog 2.0 is written by Mike Madison, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh. Send email to michael.j.madison[at] Mike also blogs at, on law and technology. Chris Briem of Null Space drops by from time to time.

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