Sunday, June 5, 2016

If I Were Mayor Of Greensboro: Part 10

This is part of an ongoing series of posts that begins with If I Were Mayor Of Greensboro and is linked in succession back to here. If you haven't already I recommend you read them all before continuing.

Recently Roch Smith Jr wrote, The question Tony Wilkins cannot answer:

"GREENSBORO, NC — When it came to releasing the police body camera video recording the shooting of a knife-wielding woman by a Greensboro police officer, city council representative Tony Wilkins was the lone “no” vote.
Over three weeks, I have asked Wilkins three times the following:

“Now what I’ve seen the video, I don’t understand your objection to its release. What do you think was the downside to its release?”
He will not answer."

This brings up a long standing problem going back years that has plagued the City of Greensboro, Greensboro City Council and Greensboro Police Department, and has undermined public trust throughout all departments and all levels of City government.

The fact is: there are literally hundreds of questions Tony Wilkins, Mayor Vaughan and the rest of the Greensboro City Council cannot or will not answer.

This lack of transparency stems from the public's inability to access public records be they e-mails, documents, body camera videos, etc. And politicians who are used to operating behind a veil of secrecy are always going to wish to remain behind the veil.

It's time for a new breed to usher in a new era.

In If I Were Mayor Of Greensboro: Part 8 I wrote:
"A couple of years ago Mayor Vaughan presided over a special meeting of journalists and bloggers to discuss the topic of public information requests. I attended that meeting. There I suggested the City of Greensboro put the information we are constantly asking for online in a searchable database where anyone could access it.
Greensboro's Internet Technologies Department was also in attendance at that meeting. They informed us the information is already online in a searchable database but is blocked from public view. They explained the info could be made public and kept safe at very little cost. And all they needed was permission from City Council to make it happen.
Mayor Vaughan and the Greensboro City Council continues to deliberately control what public information you and I have access to. As Mayor of Greensboro I would bring to vote a resolution to change that thus making Greensboro the most transparent city anywhere. And any council member who opposed it would be suspect."

But that isn't enough. We need an Internet Technologies expert who is also an expert on public information laws in North Carolina. If I were Mayor of Greensboro I would push to hire an IT expert who could oversee the public online placement of all of Greensboro's public information, thereby eliminating the need to pay various personnel in various departments to look up every single public information request and act as go betweens to prevent our current city leadership from getting caught raiding the till.

My first choice for this job would be Roch Smith Jr. Despite our many past and ongoing arguments (and we have several) I know Roch to be qualified to do the job. As a founding partner and designer of, Roch has lead the world in the aggregation and dissemination of online content for the last decade.

Roch has also made it priority to learn public records laws and push the City of Greensboro to be more transparent for over a decade. He is innately qualified to do this job.

Is this cronyism on my part? Until Roch reads this post he has no idea of what my thoughts are as we have never discussed this before. And to make public records available online and hire someone to oversee what is a new operation would still require the approval of the majority of City Council so you can decide for yourself if what I'm proposing is cronyism.

Or we can search for someone else to fill the job.

Come back next time when I write If I Were Mayor Of Greensboro: Part 11