Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Tom Carruthers Learns How To E-mail

As you know from my stories Union Still Out Of SquareUnion Out Of Square And Out Of Plumb and It's Called Division... With Updates, I've been having a horrible time of late getting the City of Greensboro to abide by the law concerning the fulfilling of Public Information Requests.

Finally I got the following e-mail from City Attorney Thomas Carruthers today:

"Mr. Jones and Mr. Godwin:
I am writing to update you on the status of your PIRTs filed on February 15 and 16 respectively.  These are unusually large requests.
This information is maintained in our Lawson software system. There is no global search function for this type of inquiry.  It will take an estimated 1000 individual queries to open and print your desired items. Only Lawson certified employees can conduct these queries. 
I understand that you have not yet agreed to limit the scope of your request or alter the request to allow us to produce the necessary information in a more efficient method. I would like to propose a solution.  Attached is a Lawson spreadsheet in electronic format that itemizes in excess of 8 million dollars in expenditures by the City of Greensboro. This allows you to review the itemized expenditures by account.  Please note that the “217” funds comprise the BEDI, Section 108, and EPA funds used by the City for acquisition and remediation at the South Elm Street Redevelopment Area (SESRA).  Section “212” funds are CDBG funds, some of which were used for the SESRA. The second attached spreadsheet, which we produced to you February 8th, is a summary of the funds only expended at the SESRA. This spreadsheet also contains the limited DOT and Powell Bill funds used at the SESRA. 
If you identify a reasonable subset of individual receipts, we should be able to produce these in a timely fashion. 
Your request at present is unmanageable under current City procedure. City Staff estimates that it will take a minimum of 100 hours of staff time at $40.00 per hour to produce these individual receipts. The City as a matter of procedure does not ordinarily charge for staff time to respond to requests which require an excessive amount of public time and expense. However, we are permitted to do so under State Public Records law and because of the magnitude of your request and the amount of staff time necessary to complete this request, we will have to exercise that option in this instance. Therefore, if you chose to go forward with your original request, please forward to us payment of $4000.00 and we will bill against this amount. We will refund any remaining unused money or will send additional bills if necessary to cover the additional staff time. This staff intensive inquiry will take an estimated 90 days to complete. 
Mr. Jones, I also understand you remain concerned that we waited to respond to your December 30th PIRT (5359) until February 8th.  As you are aware, at the time of your inquiry the City was involved in litigation regarding the use of these funds.  The City is not required to produce public records which are trial preparation materials.  The plaintiffs in this litigation dismissed their claims on February 2nd.  Thereafter, we timely responded. 
One final item.  I am not receiving your emails, only other’s responses to your emails to the City. It would be helpful for you to email directly to my address as well.
Thank you for your anticipated cooperation.
Thomas D. Carruthers
City Attorney
Office of the City Attorney
300 West Washington Street
PO Box 3136
Greensboro, NC 27402-2320
Phone:    336-373-2320
Fax:        336-373-2078

Please note that email sent to and from this address is subject
to the North Carolina Public Records Law and may be disclosed to third parties."

The PK SE Expenditure Summary doesn't tell you much of anything but if you click on the Transaction Report Fund and start clicking on the totals at the bottom of the page you're going to start having lots of very interesting questions about how the City of Greensboro managed to spend well over $8 Million Dollars on a project they haven't even broken ground on, most of the money going not to land purchases but to people most of you have never heard of. And remember: The City of Greensboro was reimbursed by the Federal Government for the environmental remediation costs.

Mr Carruthers mentions the trial involving Mr Robert. I really kinda expected to hear that excuse on say January 2 or so when it was still relevant, not weeks after the fact. I mean, seriously, that was the first excuse I expected to hear, not the last. Is Tom again taking up his same old habits that cost him his law firm?
My reply:
"Mr Carruthers,
Thank you for your reply.  I believe with what you have provided and possibly subsequent PIRT requests based on the information found within the Transaction Fund Reports I can learn what it is we need to know about the South Elm Redevelopment Project/Union Square. I can't speak for Mr Godwin and the others but I am happy to cancel my requests for receipts concerning this project.

It's strange that you are not receiving my e-mails. Perhaps you shouldn't have marked my e-mail address as spam just because you don't want to deal with the issues I point out. I recommend you contact the City of Greensboro IT department to fix the problem you've created. Mr Westmoreland and Christian Wilson will forward this to you to make sure you get it.

I do have one final question in that I noticed there have been thousands of dollars in administrative costs billed to the project. Is the City of Greensboro paying administrative costs to a 3rd party, who is that 3rd party and why is a 3rd party necessary when City Staff manages $Millions of Dollars every month?

Will I need to file yet another long awaited PIRT to find the answers or can I expect a quick reply directly from you Mr Carruthers?

Thank you
-Billy Jones"

Will Mr Carruthers tell us who is administering the project and why a 3rd party is necessary?

And are some of you, after examining the Transaction Report Fund 212 & 217  beginning to believe we need to know more about where over $8 Million Dollars went?