Monday, September 12, 2016

Adding To Roch's Pile: Part 3

On August 1, 2016, Roch Smith Jr published Greensboro’s new secrecy: Sinister and hostile, a damming account of the activities of the public relations department of the City of Greensboro, Greensboro City Council, Greensboro Police Department, and high ranking City staff. It was indeed a scathing account in which Mr Smith pointed out a number of lies and deliberate attempts to mislead the public.

We've experienced much the same here at So much so that I am currently suing the City of Greensboro on several counts of failing to properly handle public records requests. I mean seriously, should 40, 50 or more weeks without a reply to a public records request be considered acceptable? Should filling a request with something other than what was requested be considered acceptable? Repeatedly?

All one needs do is click on Greensboro PIRT Tracking System and spend a few minutes looking around to see Greensboro has a huge problem that no one is working to solve.

So we decided to add a few to Roch's pile that aren't mentioned in the lawsuit just so you can see how big the problem has become and how long it has been going on.

Now I've often said that here at EzGreensboro we don't just report the news, we are the news. That wasn't our intention when this began but it came to be that way.

If you should search this website for 457 Employee Retirement Savings Plan you will literally find dozens upon dozens of references. My friend George Hartzman proposed a better retirement plan for City employees in 2013 when he was running for Mayor of Greensboro and despite the fact that George lost the election he continued to push for a better plan. George's plan would save 2,800 Greensboro employees more than $500,000 per year at zero additional cost to the taxpayers.

So George put together a presentation for the City of Greensboro in which George explained the 457 retirement plan to employees and City Council and anyone else who attended. The Meeting was held on February 24, 2015 at 3:00 PM. Among those in attendance was John Hammer of the Rhino Times and myself. As noted in the minutes, Councilman Mike Barber was busy playing golf that day just as he is most days when City Council holds business meetings.

George put together a power point presentation of his Hartzman Retirement Plan Whistle, City of Greensboro Edition and distributed copies to everyone in the room. Here is the action report from that meeting hosted on the City of Greensboro server.In neither the minutes nor the action report is there any mention of any fees to be paid to Mr Hartzmam.

Then a few days later, John Hammer reported in the Rhino Times, that George was attempting to solicit fees from the City of Greensboro for his services and had said so in his presentation. But there were no fees mentioned in the plan.

Of course, George, myself and others knew that to be a lie so we started submitting public information requests to prove John Hammer was lying.

There was a video camera set up in the room but the City of Greensboro denies to this day that video exists. Anyone know who the cameraman is or who he works for? Interestingly enough, online records made available by the City of Greensboro seem to show a history of making video available only when the City Council is in the mood.

You'll have to ask Councilwoman Hoffman why she was holding her nose. Everyone seated at the table was city council members. I think most of them bathe. Did someone pass gas?

We submitted multiple public information requests asking for copies of Hartzman Retirement Plan Whistle as was distributed to everyone there but were again told it did not exist. How could it not exist if everyone was given copies? Even I was given copies. I still have a copy laying in the middle of my messy desk there beside my .38 revolver. See, the document does exist.

As a matter of fact, I had already posted the Hartzman Retirement Plan Whistle to Google docs on February 24, 2015, the dates are there to prove it.

But the City still claimed such documents didn't exist. So we decided to step up our game.

Enlisting the help of others the City might not know we knew, we decided to get them to start requesting copies of the Hartzman Retirement Plan Whistle. This is a classic. After several e-mails over a period of 4 months one of our helpers received the following e-mail from Greensboro Public Records Administrator Katherine Carter directing her to find the document she was looking for not on the City website but on a blog. As a matter of fact, Mr Carter was directing our helper to the very blog you are reading now.

Here's a link to the post Ms Carter was referring to.

As a matter of fact, I previously wrote the story in City of Greensboro Cites EzGreensboro As Official Source Of Information so nothing you're reading here is new to City Council or staff who were all involved and complicit.

And what happened next? After 4 months of denying the document existed, on June 26, 2015, just 2 days later, the document the City of Greensboro  denied the existence of suddenly appeared on City Servers. Amazing!

And you think Greensboro doesn't have a problem with public records?

Stay tuned to Adding To Roch's Pile: Part 4, we've probably got a hundred such stories if we can only remember them all. And that's not counting those few involved in my law suit.

Oh, by the way, got the following e-mail from Margaret at the News & Record the other day:

Cut Margaret some slack, she's due a medical procedure any day now. Nothing is so important we can't give her time to get back on her feet.

Stay tuned to Adding To Roch's Pile: Part 4, we've probably got a hundred such stories if we can only remember them all. And that's not counting those few involved in my law suit.