Thursday, July 30, 2015

Yes Weekly's Jeff Sykes on his April 27, 2015 unfulfilled public records request for Guilford County

"...which to this date remains acknowledged, but unfilled.

In April it was announced that Guilford County had approved the issuance of $17 million of bonds to support construction of the Union Square Campus in Downtown Greensboro...

When I first began working in Greensboro one of the things I heard most often from readers and activists was that people often didn’t understand these public-private partnerships that brought about Center City Park, the Downtown Greenway, Union Square Campus, and the pending Performing Arts Center. Questions about the land and financing of Union Square abounded, once the dust from the announcement celebration settled, and seeing no other reporter really picking the project apart, I decided it was something I could look into.

...on April 27, a week after I learned about the county issuing bonds for Union Square, I filed a records request with Guilford County.

...I contacted a person in the county administration and asked what was the procedure for filing a request. The person told me that I could send them the request, as the county did not have a dedicated public information officer. This is what’s transpired since then.

I sent the following records request:

“ I would like to request emails, documents and correspondence to or from Union Square Campus Inc.’s John Merrill or Ed Kitchen asking the county to issue bonds to help finance the Union Square Campus. The date range on this could be Feb. 1, 2015 to present.”

The date range was a mere three months and the search terms narrowly tailored. The person acknowledged my request in a reply email that cc’d the county attorney, Mark Payne. Being patient, I decided to see how the process played itself out. By June 1 I had received no answer to my request and I followed up with my contact.

I followed up again on June 22, almost two months after the request was made. I received a response that she would “check on the status of this one.” Hearing nothing in the following days, I inquired again on July 1.

I have received no response to my inquiry since then, and suffice it to say, the request remains unfilled.

I called the county manager’s office about 10 days ago to inquire about the status of my request. The receptionist in the manager’s office said she would give him my message and “have someone return my call.”