Sunday, December 16, 2012

Doing Nothing is Not an Option

The Connecticut massacre defies description; it takes your breath away; it is a nightmare. Actions to prevent the slaughter of innocent children and adults cannot wait—the time is now for calm, non-partisan thinking and action.

There are things we can do here on the Northern Neck. First, we cannot allow our elected officials to run and hide from the needed, candid conversation. Second, we must make increased mental health a basic part of the solution.

Virginia has suffered two school shootings. Yet, in many respects our schools are no safer than before April 17, 2007. We need to talk calmly; we need to reject violence in every form. But here in the Northern Neck we elect an official arrested for domestic abuse, some have bumper stickers—“locked and loaded,” others scream and yell breaking up political discussions.

Elected officials often won’t communicate with the family of a school-shooting victim; specifically, Congressman Robert Wittman and state Delegate Margaret Ransone. Since the murder of our daughter-in-law, I have spent considerable money and time to help make our schools safer, I have written two books addressing the subject and I am co-writing another with the Virginia Tech families.

I have written both Wittman and Ransone with questions and comments on school safety. Both have at least two families with members who have been killed or wounded on college campuses—but that apparently counts for nothing. Ransone simply never answers. Wittman either never answers or his office obfuscates. Defending the Second Amendment and keeping guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill are not mutually exclusive.

If the politicians won’t even talk about what needs to be done to prevent mass murders--nothing will be done. Nothing is not an option; the slaughter of 20 beautiful little children and six wonderful adults is proof of that. 

Monday, December 10, 2012


December 10, 2012

Mr. Larry Hincker
Vice President University Relations
315-F Burruss Hall (0229)
Blacksburg, Va. 22482

Re: Freedom of Information Request

Dear Mr. Hincker:

At the suggestion of Lynda Turrieta-McLeod, FOIA Administrator, Attorney General’s Office, I am submitting the following requests to you.

1. Would you send me all documents pertaining to the amount of money spent by Virginia Tech in appealing the Department of Education’s ruling that Virginia Tech violated the Clery Act?

2. Would you also send me any documents in possession showing payments or contributions to payments by any individuals, organizations, or foundations on behalf of Virginia Tech in the appeals process?

Thanking you in advance,


                                                                                    David Cariens, Jr.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


            The Attorney General’s Office response to my Freedom of Information request pertaining to the Pryde and Peterson lawsuit against Virginia Tech is--not to release any documents. This lack of transparency regarding school shootings in Virginia is the norm and raises troubling questions. Consistently, pertinent information to these crimes has not been shared with investigators or the public.

            The failure of the State Police and the ATF to give documents concerning Seung-Hui Cho’s gun purchases to the Governor’s Review Panel Report means a critical part of the puzzle is missing for both investigators and the public.

            This pattern of not sharing vital information to people investigating school shootings is all too frequent in Virginia. At the time of the shooting at the Appalachian School of Law, the police and Attorney General’s office refused to make information public pertaining to a threat that one of the victims received.

            Now, the Attorney General’s office refuses to make public any documents pertaining to its hiring of Dr. Dennis Mileti as an expert consultant for the state in the Pryde and Peterson trial. So, the question remains, why was Mileti paid over $27,000.00 in consultation fees? He appears to posses few if any qualifications to give expert testimony on mass shootings. Was this some sort of ‘ole boy’ network at work? I am really at a loss to see what Mileti could supply that is worth $27,000.00.

            If you look at Mileti’s biography he specializes in natural disasters, earthquakes, and volcanoes. The Attorney General did not call him to testify. Here is Mileti’s biography:

            Dr. Mileti is Professor Emeritus at the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he served as Chair of the Department of Sociology and as Director of the Natural Hazards Center—the U.S.’s national clearinghouse for social and behavioral science research on hazards and disasters.
            Dr. Mileti is the author of more than 100 publications, most of which are on the societal aspects of hazards and disasters. His book Disasters by Design summarized and assessed knowledge in all disciplines and U.S. national policy for hazards and disasters. He was the founder and coeditor-in-chief of the all-hazards and all-disciplines journal Natural Hazards Review.
            He has served on a variety of advisory boards, including the Committee on Natural Disasters in the National Research Council; the Board of Visitors to FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute; the Board of Directors of the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute; the Advisory Board to the U.S. Geological Survey’s Research Program on Earthquakes and Volcanoes; the Expert Advisory Panel for the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s study of evacuation of the World Trade Center towers on 9/11; the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Expert Panel for the Army Corps of Engineers’ assessment of the New Orleans levee failures, for which he was given the Outstanding Civilian Service Medal by the Department of the Army; and as a member of the California Seismic Safety Commission. Dr. Mileti is currently a member of the START Center at the University of Maryland, which is a Department of Homeland Security National Center of Excellence for research on terrorism. He also serves on the NRC’s Committee to Evaluate the U.S.’s National Tsunami Warning Program and on the Board of Directors of the Southern California Earthquake Center.

Here is the response from the Attorney General’s office:
Office of the Attorney General

December 6, 2012

David Cariens
Kilmarnock, Virginia 22482

            Re:  Freedom of Information Request

Dear Mr. Cariens;

            This office is in receipt of your request for records made in accordance with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, 2.2-3700 et seq.

            You have asked for several different categories of documents pertaining to Dr. Dennis Mileti, an expert witness retained to testify in the Pryde and Petersen trial. You requested the “document review” itemized by Dr. Mileti as well as Dr. Mileti’s review of “documents from their expert,” “Laughery deposition and attachments,” and Dr. MIleti’s review of “Morva documents.”

            Counsel’s communications with Dr. Mileti including counsel’s requests that Dr. Mileti review certain documents were done in anticipation of litigation, and were made for use during litigation. They reflect counsel’s legal theories and constitute the work product of defense counsel. These materials are work product prepared for use in litigation and will be withheld pursuant to Virginia Code 2.2-3705 (3) which creates an exclusion from the Freedom of Information Act for such work product.

            Dr. Mileti’s “write up of draft opinions,” notes of telephone conversations with Ed.  Spencer, Kim O’Rourke, Lisa Wilkes and attorneys, and the unobtrusive indicators study are not in the possession of this Office. Furthermore, and such documents created by Dr. Mileti for use in litigation constitute work product which is exempt from disclosure pursuant to Virginia Code 2.2-3705.1 (3).

            “Deposition guidance for our attorneys,” “bibliography preparation for deposition” and any notes, records or documents related to “position plan development,” were created by Dr. Mileti for use in the litigation and they constitute work product which is exempt from disclosure pursuant to Virginia Code 2.2-3075.1 (3).

            None of the documents you refer to in paragraphs 5 and 6 of your letter of November 26, 2012 are in the possession of this office.

            All of the documents that you have requested relate to an expert witness retained to testify in a lawsuit. As such, these materials, which approximate 500 pages, constitute “work product complied specifically for use in litigation” pursuant to Virginia Code 2.2-3705.1 (3). For this reason, these documents will not be released.

                                                                      Peter R. Messitt
                                                                      Senior Assistant Attorney General

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Rebutting Bowes

Richmond Times-Dispatch


The recent article by Mark Bowes on gun sales and reduced crimes may be a classic example of manipulation of the facts. First, the Times-Dispatch asked VCU Professor Thomas Baker to do their research. Baker studied under pro-gun Professors Gary Kleck and Marc Gertz at Florida State. The paper apparently wanted the end result to be pro-gun rights. There are scholars whose research is not tainted by past associations. Second, the spike in Virginia gun sales is probably an anomaly directly attributable to the hysteria (fed by manufacturers and gun shop owners to increase sales) that President Obama is going to take guns away from law-abiding citizens. Therefore the results (and conclusions) are skewed.

The Times-Dispatch has retreated from the outstanding investigative journalism done in connection with the shooting at Virginia Tech. The paper now outsources its work. With the departure of reporter David Ress, the Times-Dispatch apparently has not found anyone to carry on his hard-hitting research and writing.

David Cariens