Wednesday, October 22, 2014

UNCG Takes Public Record Lessons From City Of Greensboro

Today the News & Record is reporting that UNCG is dragging their feet and refusing to provide public records pertaining to the firings and subsequent criminal charges against Chris English and David Wilson and Lyda Carpen:

"They were fired Sept. 24 for allegedly working freelance jobs on UNCG time, then charged with a combined 22 felonies for falsifying time sheets.

Brady and others have said they can’t say more without violating personnel laws.

The News & Record, however, maintains that some information involving the university’s actions is a matter of public record and is being withheld by the university contrary to state statute. What’s more, UNCG officials could invoke a little-known state law and make the documents public anyway by claiming the release is “essential to maintaining the integrity” of the university."

It would probably end there but the N&R also writes:

“The university is not disclosing the reporting individual’s name because we feel strongly that we need to protect employees’ ability to anonymously report misdeeds such as the misuse of state resources.”

State law, however, provides only two reasons for withholding such information: protecting the safety of a complaining witness or compromising a criminal investigation, neither of which Cathey mentioned.

UNCG has failed to make other documents public in a timely manner, including:

• Emails among administrators about what led to the firings and arrests.

• Details of previous alleged criminal activity by UNCG employees and the university’s response.

Amanda Martin, an attorney who specializes in public records laws, said transparency is crucial when there are allegations of wrongdoing by public employees.

“It is important for us to understand not only what took place — in this case allegations of misappropriation of government resources — but also how it has been handled from a managerial standpoint,” said Martin, an attorney for the N.C. Press Association and Stevens Martin Vaughn and Tadych.

“We want to know whether problems are systemic and whether they have been fixed,” Martin said."

Apparent the Brady Bunch seems to think they can pick and choose which laws they want to have enforced and when they want them enforced.

Rumor has it that just last year the City of Greensboro came under a grand jury investigation when Greensboro bloggers began complaining online about the way the City handled public information requests. I can't tell you for certain if that is true but I do know for a fact that Ms Sarah Heasley was hired by the City for her experience with public information requests while working at the Federal level and the City of Greensboro installed their online PIRT Tracking System just this year.

Perhaps a few e-mails and telephone calls to the NC Department of Justice from a few thousand UNCG staffers, students and alumni might speed up the process. Hey, the City of Greensboro picked up their pace.