Tuesday, August 16, 2016


1. Pursuant to Rules 3, 7 and 8 of the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure, complaining of the defendants, Plaintiff alleges and says; This is an action pursuant to the North Carolina Public Records Law, Chapter 132 of the General Statutes which seeks to compel the City of Greensboro to disclose public records under North Carolina Law.

...2.  Plaintiff William Baker Jones is the proprietor of EZGreensboro News and Record, an investigative local news and opinion outlet covering North Carolina, Guilford County and The City of Greensboro at EZGreensboro.com...

3.  In the course of gathering information about the policies and actions of Greensboro's government, Plaintiff and his staff regularly make use of and rely on North Carolina Public Records Law to gain access to government documents, records and information owned by the public.  Compliance with Public Records Laws on the part of the defendants and other public officials is critical to the Plaintiffs' work advocating for the best interests of our community, county and state.

...We have been thwarted in our aim to provide readers with accurate, timely and thorough information and comment concerning Defendant’s decisions, actions and policies.

Plaintiff's alternative online news outlet received over 242,630 page views between January 1, 2016 and July 31, 2016, which equates to 34,661 per month or about 1,155 per day at EZGreensboro.com.  Plaintiff's best guesstimate of actual readers, considering 8,087 page hits per week, is probably somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000 readers every seven days.  Considering 7,157 Greensboro residents voted in October 6, 2015's City Council primary, if there are only 1,500 local EZGreensboro News and Record readers per week, EZGreensboro.com appears to be in a position to reach and inform somewhere in the 20% range of the total 2015 primary voters within the City.

...10.  Since October 19, 2015, Mayor Vaughan and Manager Westmoreland, sometimes in league with former Greensboro Assistant City Manager Mary Vigue and former Greensboro Communications Director Donnie Turlington, violated Public Records Law repeatedly on multiples of instances in response to public information requests for the benefit of former City Assistant Manager Mary Vigue and former City of Greensboro Communications Director Donnie Turlingon, among others.

11.  These violations include, but are not limited to:

a.  failing or refusing to furnish requesters with copies of requested public records "as promptly as possible" on multiples of requests;

b.  failing or refusing to permit the inspection and examination of public records at reasonable times and under reasonable supervision;

c.  denying or concealing the existence of public records on multiples of items.

12.  The defendants' behaviors suggest, and therefore Plaintiff believes and alleges, that some or all of the violations described above are consequences of concerted policies and practices adopted and followed by the defendants for the purpose of avoiding or circumventing the Public Records Law and discouraging or intimidating public records requesters.

13.  These policies and practices include, but are not limited to:

...14.  PIRT #5180, submitted by EZGreensboro staff as directed by Plaintiff on October 19, 2015 stated “please provide all communications and documentation between city councilman Tony Wilkins and anyone else for the last 90 days.  Please look at both Mr. Wilkins' private and public email addresses”, has not been fulfilled.

Plaintiff has also requested the following from the City;

a.  Triad City Beat’s PIRT #5309, "Civil Emergency" by Eric Ginsburg, which has not been fulfilled since 12/4/2015.

b.  Downtown property owner Eric Robert's PIRT #5418, "dgi", which  has not been fulfilled since 1/24/2016.

c.  Yes Weekly’ PIRT #5754, "Zack Matheny" by Jeff Sykes, which has not been fulfilled since 5/18/2016.

d.  Jeff Sykes’ PIRT #5619, "Cascade Saloon", which has not been fulfilled since 4/5/2016.

e.  Plaintiff's PIRT #5782, "Marty Kotis", which has not been fulfilled since 5/27/2016.

f.  PIRT #5181, submitted by EZGreensboro staff as directed by Plaintiff on October 19, 2015 stated “please provide all communications between Zack Matheny and anyone at the city including city council members private email addresses for the last 90 days”, which has not been fulfilled.

g.  PIRT #5226, submitted by EZGreensboro staff as directed by Plaintiff on November 2, 2015 stated “Please provide any documents and/or communications between anyone in the City's executive office area and anyone from Say Yes to Education for the last 120 days”, which totaled 1,108 emails according to the City of Greensboro, which has not been fulfilled.

15.  To Plaintiff's knowledge, Plaintiff's review of Say Yes to Education's publicly available IRS form 990's indicates the 'non-profit's' investments are located in "CENTRAL AMERICA  AND THE CARIBBEAN", and invested in Say Yes to Education founder George Weiss' Weiss Multi-Strategy fund, from which Say Yes Guilford has been promised $15 million.  Plaintiff's review of Weiss' publicly available asset returns for Weiss' Multi-Strategy fund found investment returns which didn’t correspond to returns found within Yes to Education's non-profit IRS filings.  Plaintiff recently filed complaint #16SEC093 with North Carolina Secretary of State's Securities Division concerning Say Yes Guilford and Say Yes to Education.

16.  On October 26, 2015, Triad Business Journal's Katie Arcieri wrote "After a career with the city of Greensboro that began in 2006, Mary Vigue was recently tapped as the executive director of the local chapter of Say Yes to Education..."

17.  To Plaintiff's knowledge, Say Yes to Education and Greensboro City Manager Jim Westmoreland, who along with Nancy Vaughan and City Council, coordinated low cost publicly funded office space for Say Yes Guilford, whose staff includes former City Assistant Manager Mary Vigue and former City of Greensboro Communications Director Donnie Turlingon, who have declined to provide EZGreensboro News and Record with 2014's Say Yes to Education's 990 tax return after being asked for the document in writing on October, 20, 2015 and again on July 19, 2016.  Say Yes Guilford was also asked for the 2014 990 and its conflict of interest policy and ethics code on October 20, 2015, which has not been provided with Westmoreland and Vaughan's knowledge.

18.  On Wednesday, May 18, 2016 at 11:12 AM, Plaintiff received an email from City of Greensboro Public Records Administrator Katherine Carter, stating "Dear Mr. Jones, Thank you for your public records request.  Per your request, I have made a note in our system to send you a copy of the response to PIRT 5180, 5181, 5226... upon their completion. I will be in touch with you once these requests have been finished", which have not been concluded in a reasonable amount of time, on top of unreasonable terms beforehand on multiples of requests.

19.  To Plaintiff's knowledge, part time City of Greensboro Public Records Administrator Katherine Carter was Say Yes Guilford's Director of Communications Donnie Turlington's former employee directly before and/or after Turlington was City of Greensboro's Communications and Marketing Director in a similar time frame as former City of Greensboro Assistant Manager Mary Vigue was identified as a member of the Say Yes to Education Planning Group for Greensboro before resigning her City post to become Say Yes Guilford's Executive Director for Say Yes to Education.

...these instances disclose patterns and practices of delay, obfuscation, non-responsiveness, foot-dragging and stonewalling on the part of Vaughan, Westmoreland, Vigue and Turlington concerning former employees Vigue and Turlington and a select few City Council campaign contributors who are now personally profiting from their former and current positions which effectively defeats and defies the public policy of transparent and open government underlying Public Records Law.

21.  Based on the patterns and practices described above, Plaintiff believes and alleges the defendants' concerted and repeated violations of the Public Records Law constitute willful and contumacious failures by the defendants to carry out the mandatory and prescribed duties of their respective...

WHEREFORE, the plaintiffs respectfully pray that the court:

23.  Set the matter down for an immediate hearing pursuant to G.S. § 132-9(a);

24.  Enter an order in the nature of a writ of mandamus to inferior government officials ordering the government officials to properly fulfill their official duties or correct an abuse of discretion requiring the defendants and all persons acting at their direction or in concert with them to comply with North Carolina Public Records Law, including G.S. § 132-6(a), (See, e.g. Cheney v. United States Dist. Court For D.C. (03-475) 542 U.S. 367 (2004) 334 F.3d 1096.);

25.  Enter an order pursuant to G.S. § 132-9(a) compelling the defendants to make available any and all public records requested by Plaintiff and others that are determined by the court to be within the City's custody or control, and that have not been previously made available in compliance with G.S. § 132-6;

26.  Enter an order declaring that certain policies and practices adopted and followed by the defendants are in violation of the Public Records Law;

Plaintiff further prays the court provide him with such further and additional relief as the court shall deem to be just, proper and authorized by law, and that the costs of this action be taxed against defendants Westmoreland and Vaughan.

Signed this the 16th day of August, 2016;

William Baker Jones
Pro Se

Update: Scanned images of the 3 envelopes showing the lawsuit was sent by Certified Mail.

Court documents as filed with Guilford County Superior Court.