I worked long and hard to prove the City of Greensboro handled the Heritage House fiasco improperly writing over 100 articles and posting dozens upon dozens of documents for well over a year but tonight something came to me: Perhaps we all asked the wrong questions?
The City told us the property was out of control, full of drug dealers and criminals, as if everyone living there were thugs and had to be run out but we all know that wasn't the case. Councilman Mike Barber waved about a list of 2800 calls to Guilford County 911 as if every one of them were to the same place but there are 177 individually deeded units in Heritage House.
Now lets say that a few drug dealers and criminals moved into say, New Irving Park. Would the City of Greensboro take possession of all of New Irving Park and force everyone from their homes then come back after the fact and conveniently find a 3rd party inspections company to declare all the homes in New Irving Park unfit to live in?
Don't be silly, you say? That is exactly the chain of events that took place at Heritage House. As a neighborhood, what's the difference between Heritage House and New Irving Park? Money, influence and power.
So over a year later I've decided to submit the following public information request to the City of Greensboro:
"The City of Greensboro released crime stats that indicated 2800 calls to Guilford County 911 for a property known as Heritage House.
The calls were lumped together as if Heritage House were 1 property with 1 deed but in reality Heritage House consisted of 177 individually deeded properties.
I would like to see a listing of all 911 calls broken down by individual properties.
Let's see how long they drag their feet on this one, shall we?
Update: February 4, 2016, got the following response today:
"Hello Mr. Jones,
Thank you for your public records request (PIRT 5442) in which you stated, “The City of Greensboro released crime stats that indicated 2800 calls to Guilford County 911 for a property known as Heritage House. The calls were lumped together as if Heritage House were 1 property with 1 deed but in reality Heritage House consisted of 177 individually deeded properties. I would like to see a listing of all 911 calls broken down by individual properties.”
I have been working with Guilford Metro 911 to formulate a report that will gather the information that you are requesting. However, if you could please clarify the questions discussed below, I would greatly appreciate it.
1) In your request you discuss crime statistics, but you ask for “all 911 calls.” Please advise if you are requesting just calls designated for a Police response, or if you are also asking for records of fire and medical responses.
2) Also, my understanding is that the previously provided record of 2800 calls, referenced in your request, is for a time frame of approximately the 2 previous years. Would you like us to also run the new report for the past two years so that you can compare?
Unfortunately, we cannot break the requested information down by deed owner, but we can provide you with a report that distinguishes between apartments.
I look forward to your response.
Katherine Carter, Public Records Administrator
Communications and Marketing Department - 336-373-3282
City of Greensboro
PO Box 3136, Greensboro, NC 27402-3136www.greensboro-nc.gov "
Let's see how this compares to the numbers Mike Barber waved around."Yes Katherine, let's break it down by designated for a Police response, per apartment and for the same 2 year time period as was previously released by the City of Greensboro.Thanks -Billy"
Update 2: February 18, 2016 I get the following e-mail:
"Hello Mr. Jones,
Regarding your public records requests (PIRT # 5442), you were sent the email below on February 4, 2016, outlining what further information was needed in order to process your request.
To date, I have not received a response from you providing the necessary information. As a result, this PIRT has been closed per lack of response. Pursuant to our PIRT policy, “The requestor will be deemed unresponsive and his/her PIRT request will be closed if two weeks have passed (10 business days) and he/she has not responded to the PIRT Administrator’s follow-up inquiry.”
If you can supply the requested information, I will be happy to reopen your request, and provide you with the responsive records, in accordance with State Law and our Public Records Policy.
Katherine Carter, Public Records Administrator
Communications and Marketing Department - 336-373-3282
City of Greensboro
PO Box 3136, Greensboro, NC 27402-3136"
Seriously? I e-mailed my February 4, 2016 e-mail shown above to Ms Carter again. Since I haven't been e-mailing hyperlinks to this post perhaps no one downtown knows I'm keeping track. Usually she ignores me altogether. Perhaps her response is in response to as passage that can be found in Corrupt City by Fec.
"Left to their own devices, Nathan and his kind might have ruled Corrupt City forever. Unfortunately, the detritus of corrupt government – inside deals and forgotten neighborhoods – became so numerous as to be obvious. And people began to notice how city staff and the local media sought to hide these problems. Of course, it was only natural that the technocrats, not unlike Auschwitz Nazis, worked diligently on behalf of Corrupt City, if not its actual citizens."
Update 3: February 19, 2016: Amazingly some strange events took place just about the same time Katherine Carter was getting back to me with a PIRT request that was about to be lost. The first was my posting of Union Still Out Of Square on Tuesday February 16, 2016 in which I complained about having submitted a different public information request twice without getting results. That prompted several of our EzGreensboro.com readers to submit their own PIRTs to the City of Greensboro. A spark had been created.
Then on Thursday, February 18, 2016, Jeff Martin at Carolina Under Siege posted City Legal Running Greensboro in which he wrote:
"Worse, Zack Matheny and Nancy Hoffman have left unpleasant voice mails with several downtown business and property owners. Some of these may yet surface. This is just more anecdotal evidence of a total breakdown on council. The mayor is practically catatonic for many reasons and languishes in the details, while remaining oblivious to the bigger picture. It may well be that she was a creature of Don Vaughan after all and has been cast adrift.
We are dealing with a variety of mental illnesses expressed by several public officials. The H3 architect for the IGMFUPAC got a good picture of the situation and ended up mocking them. There are great people on city staff and on council. Unfortunately, they are not in a position to do much about what is happening.
The natural result of this political vacuum is Roy Carroll and Marty Kotis are getting pretty much whatever they wanted. This type of catabolic collapse was predicted by John Michael Greer and will occur as city government slowly devolves into anarchy, with one wealthy actor after another feasting on its rotting carcass.
Lest you doubt me, things are so bad now the city can’t even put down the meter maids."
My series Thomas Carruthers Attacked By Rabid Dogs might have also had an effect as City Attorney Thomas Carruthers knows the attack was in direct retaliation for his covering up for Donald Vaughan and others in the Eric Robert vs. City of Greensboro lawsuit. What Carruthers didn't know is that I wasn't really all that concerned about Aunt Dorothy. Yeah, he ripped her off but the civil suit was a fight between her and her step daughters (my cousins) that had nothing to do with me. Dumbass Carruthers would have made more money if he hadn't of dropped the suit as they fought for years but in the end none of them walked away poor and only the lawyers made out. Dumbass walked away from more money than he took from Aunt Dorothy.
Now the entire City Legal Department is on notice that their own dirty laundry can be aired should they continue to support a corrupt Mayor and City Council. Expect to see any number of resignations coming from the City Legal Department as they look to jump ship before we shoot them from the bow.
Update 4: March 5, 2016 Just as I suspected, someone is trying to make this go away quietly. Someone is trying to make a lot of things go away quietly. Like who got the money from Greensboro's South Elm Development Project they are also covering up something at Heritage House:
You see, despite the fact that on Feb 18, the same day Ms Carter e-mailed me I replied to Ms Carter she still closed public information request #5442 as if I had never replied to her at all.
Here's the e-mail as sent to Ms Carter:
And just for the hell of it my actual Feb 4 e-mail to Ms Carter:
If you haven't read Union Out Of Square And Out Of Plumb I highly recommend you do so at this point for not only is it becoming quite obvious that someone with the City of Greensboro is keeping secrets about a great many things that somehow involve Mayor Nancy Barakat Vaughan (Heritage House, Robert v. City of Greensboro etc...) but others besides myself are catching wind of the problem for immediately after I posted Union Out Of Square And Out Of Plumb,
none other than Roch Smith jr. who had worked long and hard along side Mayor Vaughan to help craft what was at one time a very responsive and very workable public records response system (probably the best in the nation) sent the following e-mail to Mayor Vaughan, Councilman Mike Barber, City Attorney Thomas Carruthers, myself and several other recipients on March 4, 2015:
When the City writes to you that your request for public records will "require the extensive use of information technology resources and extensive clerical assistance," they are quoting, verbatim, language from the North Carolina General Statutes that provides for charging for fulfilling public records requests.
While this could just be a ploy to waive you off of this request and while I think it would be problematic for the city in the long run to fairly and equitably start charging the public for use of technology resources and clerical assistance, may I suggest you give them the benefit of the doubt at this point and see if maybe there is some way you can get the information you are looking for without blowing up the system for all involved?
While you are asking for "receipts" I gather that what you are trying to know is who got paid, how much and for what? I think that information could probably be generated with relative ease from the electronic records of Finance -- but it won't be receipts. Still, it will probably tell you what you are wanting to know and, if some portion seems worthy of more investigation, you can then probe a specific expenditure, project or vendor.
Also, I'm not sure how long the South Elm Street Development Project has been in existence, but I think it has been at least fifteen years or more. Is it really those entire fifteen years you need at this point, or can you begin with a smaller period?
Katherine Carter says in her email that anything you can do to narrow the scope of your request would be greatly appreciated. I too would appreciate it if you didn't back the city into a position of having to make it harder to get public records. I encourage you to consider if there is an alternative way for you to ask for what you are seeking -- not to compromise your curiosity, but simply to make the result more achievable.
Wanting to make every effort to be correct and hoping to reduce the cost to taxpayers if possible I replied with the following:
-Billy Jones"It is time we got some answers.As I have documented, the City's response to my PIRT request thus far has been completely unacceptable and as noted Mayor Vaughan and Mr Carruthers have been made aware of the situation repeatedly.Mr Carruthers? Madam Mayor? Councilman Barber? I'm sure everyone receiving this e-mail would love to read your response. So would my readers. And yes, I am e-mailing myself a copy of this e-mail to post online.Anyone?Will someone explain to me why the e-mail I got today wasn't sent in response to my December 30, 2015 PIRT request for the exact same information?If what Roch is proposing is true I would consider electronic records of finance as Roch suggests. (Seriously folks, isn't that what receipts are these days? Real money doesn't change hands, nobody actually writes receipts, everything is done electronically.)But will someone please explain the months of delay?Why wasn't my previous PIRT for the exact same info fulfilled, why wasn't it reopened when I requested the City do so, and why was I ignored?Because all of you can clearly see this has taken far too long: http://
greensboroperformingarts. blogspot.com/2016/03/union- out-of-square-and-out-of- plumb.html
At 8:00 AM the following morning, a Saturday, Roch again e-mailed us all again:
"There has been a marked slow-down in responses to records requests. Even email questions are taking days to get answered. This is not good."
Well so much for my having imagined a slowdown in PIRT responses, Roch sees it too. I replied to Roch, Mayor Vaughan, Councilman Barber, Mr Carruthers and the others who received the e-mail making sure to remove Ben Holder as he had replied asking not to be e-mailed.
Thanks -Billy"By the way, as Ben Holder replied to the last e-mail telling me not to e-mail him I removed him from the e-mail list.But hey, how was that you described me Roch? Something about conspiracies and a gangster behind every bush. You could be right.Now I'm not saying that Mayor Vaughan and Mr Carruthers are actually participating in some sort of conspiracy to hide, delay and obscure public records... Not yet, anyway. And up until now if Ms Carter were simply doing as instructed she would simply be doing her job. (No fault there.) But if Mayor Vaughan and Mr Carruthers are actually participating in some sort of conspiracy to hide, delay and obscure public records and Ms Carter begins to get wind of it then at some point her involvement becomes aiding and abetting. And for that Ms Carter could be prosecuted along with Mayor Vaugnan and Mr Carruthers and anyone else involved in the conspiracy to hide, delay and obscure public records and whatever it was they were attempting to cover up. If that were the case Ms Carter would be wise to contact legal council not connected to the City of Greensboro.Keep in mind that g-mail allows me to keep even sent messages that I might forget to send to myself all in an easily searchable database protected by a telephone password. Very hard to hack."Indeed, Roch, the process has gone very much down hill in recent months with PIRTs not being answered, PIRTs ignored, requests to reopen ignored.... I have solid documentation of all these things as I've saved everything.Now the question becomes: Is this because Ms Carter has been unwilling or unable to do her job or is Ms Carter doing exactly as she has been instructed by her superiors? The fact that I have previously e-mailed Mayor Vaughan, City Attorney Thomas Carruthers, numerous other City Council members and city staff to complain about this and have seen no improvement nor a single reply might lead some to believe Ms Carter has been doing exactly as she has been instructed to do.
As you can see above I have proof that what I had to say was in-fact true.
It's still Saturday, March 5, 2016 as I finish up this post. I don't expect any reply from Mayor Vaughan, Councilman Barber or City Attorney Carruthers before Monday at the earliest and to be perfectly honest neither of the 3 of them have replied to anything I have asked them in what seems like more than a year so I don't really expect them to reply at all but if you would like to contact them and ask that they provide the documentation to you that has been kept from me you can do so by e-mailing Mayor Vaughan at NVaughan@triad.rr.com Councilman Barber at email@example.com and Thomas Carruthers at Thomas.Carruthers@greensboro-nc.gov
Yes, those are the personal e-mail addresses for Mayor Vaughan and Councilman Barber but then it was their decisions to opt to use personal e-mail for City Business despite the fact that the City of Greensboro provides them with free e-mail service.
But then all the e-mails sent to their City issued e-mail addresses get permanently logged into the City's data base.
“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” John F Kennedy
Remember: When the conversation stops the fighting begins. I'm still talking, are City leaders still willing to talk? I've still yet to prove that Heritage House was a scam perpetuated by Greensboro leaders or that anything has been stolen from the South Elm Redevelopment Project but I have proven beyond any doubt that someone is hiding something, blocking my attempts to find out and attempting to cover something up in both instances.
And I'm not the only one who knows it.
Update 5: March 24, 2016. Again, I;m writing to Katherine Carter, Mayor Nancy Barakat Vaughan, City Manager Jim Westmoreland and citizen Roch Smith jr in an effort to resolve this problem:
I am writing to you once again to inquire about the status of PIRT # 5442, first submitted on January 30, 2016. I realize the PIRT tracking system indicated that it was closed due to lack of response by requester but as I have documented with screen grabs of actual e-mails that simply isn't the case: http://greensboroperformingarts.blogspot.com/2016/01/its-called-division.html
I still have all the e-mails, even those I copied and pasted. When can I expect to see:
As was my reply to you on February 4, 2016."Yes Katherine, let's break it down by designated for a Police response, per apartment and for the same 2 year time period as was previously released by the City of Greensboro.Thanks -Billy"
Roch and Jim,
If you will read the link posted above you will see I've made every effort to get this PIRT filled and documented my long wait. And that is just 1 of several PIRTs that have gone unfilled, obfuscated, manipulated or otherwise lost in the last few months. After working so long and hard and without pay to help Greensboro to create a workable PIRT policy I am quite sure Roch is saddened to no end to witness what is now going on.
On a happy note. (I know, right?) Last year you and I communicated about the Urban Farm Project on Phillips Avenue. For those who might not know, the project was dead for all intents and purposes because I had discovered its director had established a fake board of directors with names of people being listed on the board who knew nothing of the project or anyone involved in it.
Well I'm happy to say the first of 3 planned greenhouses appears to be built and the City of Greensboro has supplied water to the site.
So being that I know that Nancy Vaughan took an active roll in bringing that project back to life I'm hoping you, Mayor Vaughan, and I can exchange a few e-mails so that I may write a better story about how you saved the day for a project this city desperately needs.
Hey, when they do right I'm happy to tell it. I even stopped and took pictures of the greenhouse.
Update 6: April 12, 2016. What began on January 30, 2016 continues unanswered. Today I got the following e-mail from the City of Greensboro:
"Dear Mr. Jones,Thank you for your public records request (PIRT 5442) regarding 911 calls made to the Heritage House.Please find the attached record responsive to your request. Information regarding the section of the building associated with the call has been included when the same was available in our system. Information protected by NCGS 132-1.4 has been redacted in accordance with State Law.As discussed, the information provided in the attachment is representative of Greensboro Police Department calls. Fire and medical responses have been excluded.I hope this information is helpful to you.Sincerely,Katherine Carter, Public Records AdministratorCommunications and Marketing Department - 336-373-3282City of GreensboroPO Box 3136, Greensboro, NC 27402-3136www.greensboro-nc.gov "
The attached file is labeled Calls By Location Redacted. The first 16 of 35 pages include no addresses so presumably those calls could have come from any address, anywhere in Greensboro or Guilford County. As if I needed to make a case for that last statement the address listed for one of the 911 calls on page 27 was AT THE RITE AID. There is no Rite Aid or any other store or drug store on or adjacent to the Heritage House property.
On Page 28 there is a call listed as being at BIG BROTHERS AND. I've no idea where that is.
Now that may be neither here nor there but 16 pages with 35 calls per page and no addresses is concerning. That's 560 of the total calls unaccounted for, not counting the reactions. And 35 pages of calls at 35 calls per page is less than half the 2,800 calls Zack Methany and Mike Barber both claimed to have come from Heritage House. Why such a huge discrepancy?
And why the long delay in fulfilling my public information request only to send me a reply that is only half filled?
But I think the biggest issue is that anyone can look at the Calls By Location Redacted. and see for themselves that a certain few apartments were where the majority of the calls came from.
So why not deal with the law breakers in those few apartments rather than punishing 6 floors and hundreds of innocent victims by taking their homes away from them?
Why Mayor Vaughan, when you talk about equal rights, does your version of equal rights not include equal rights for the working class citizens of Greensboro be they straight, gay, trans, conservative, liberal, black, white, Hispanic or Martian?
Are equal rights something that only apply to those people with money?