Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Adding To Roch's Pile: Part 4

On August 1, 2016, Roch Smith Jr published Greensboro’s new secrecy: Sinister and hostile, in which he wrote:

"Responses to requests for public records have slowed to a crawl and are often met with denials first, leaving requesters to argue for records to be released. Such was the case with the personal legal bill Vaughan turned over to the city for payment. She had said she would pay the bill herself, but changed her mind. The city initially refused to make the approximately $8,500 bill public, saying it was not public record even though taxpayers paid it.

The city under Vaughan’s tenure has developed a sinister and unbounded hostility towards public records access. Last week, the city’s public relations director, Carla Banks, asked the News & Record to withdraw its standing request for a regular digest of city council emails according to city reporter Margaret Moffet.

With brazen contempt for honesty and state law, city employees, seemingly with nothing better to do, are throwing up unlawful and unethical roadblocks to public transparency and city council gives tacit approval with its silence. Here a two more examples, there are many more."

But we here at have a multitude of stories about how the City of Greensboro has intentionally delayed, obfuscated, hidden and possibly even destroyed public records. Why? We can only assume it was to protect the  criminal actions of politicians, city officials or people who are close to City Council.

In case you haven't noticed, Say Yes To Education has gotten some media attention lately. Seems the promise was a free college education for every student in Greensboro and Guilford County but now we are learning that certain groups including undocumented students, home schooled students and charter school students are not to be included in the Say Yes To Education Plan. Interestingly enough, public information requests concerning Say Yes To Education are included in our lawsuit against the City of Greensboro as we've been investigating Say Yes for 2 years without getting straight answers.

I wish I could tell you more but being that is part of the suit I should probably stop there.

In Adding To Roch's Pile: Part 1 I told you of how on  January 2, 2015, Bulent Bediz was falsely arrested and charged with assault on a police officer in front of his Lexington Ave home in the Glenwood neighborhood of Greensboro and how the Greensboro Police Department and Code Enforcement Division both claimed to have video neither were able to produce in court. And how for months we had attempted to get the truth out of the City to no avail. In the end the judge dropped all charges against Mr Bediz.

Next came Adding To Roch's Pile: Part 2 in which I told you the story of how the City of Greensboro first sent me the wrong information and then waited 4 months to tell me I would have to pay them $4,000 to get the public information I was asking for concerning the Robert v. City of Greensboro law suit. What really makes that interesting is this: The City got out of providing the court with that same information using the excuse that it would cost too much to produce the information, then offered to let me have the information for $4,000.

But the City spent in excess of $100,000 in legal fees to keep from having to present that same $4.000 worth of information to the judge.  Why?

Adding To Roch's Pile, Part 3 would have been hilarious were it not for the fact that City Council was working to cover up stolen... er... I mean... improperly handled, retirement funds. In it we went searching for documents we here at EzGreensboro had provided to the City only to be told they didn't exist. Then we got others to ask the city for the documents and a city employee unknowingly did a Google search and directed them to EzGreensboro as a source of City information. Two days later, after I posted an article proclaiming this as an official source of information for the City of Greensboro and posting the e-mails to "prove it" the same documents magically appeared on the City website looking all official like.

So here we are in Part 4. As I'm writing this I'm thinking about the interview I did with Margaret Moffet of the Greensboro News & Record today concerning my lawsuit against the City and wondering how City Attorney Thomas Carruthers will respond to her questions.  How can he justify public information requests that take 13 weeks to answer? 14 weeks? 15 weeks? 20 weeks? 21 weeks? 22 weeks? 30 weeks? 32 weeks? 39 weeks? 43 weeks? 45 weeks? And some that are now closed but took even longer.

And then there's the records requests that never get logged into the system.

But for Part 4 I'm going to do something different and talk about my most recent public information request as seen on the City of Greensboro website:

See where it says, "staff is compiling the response" I want you to remember that. You see, RMC is a worldwide corporation known as Reputation Management Consultants, a company which claims to be able to clean up your online reputation. I can't say as to how good they are at what they do but the fact that "staff is compiling the response" tells me that the City of Greensboro is already spending your tax dollars on RMC services. Otherwise I would have simply gotten a reply saying there were no such records in reply to my request for receipts from RMC. Here's what RMC claims to do.

Have you ever had the feeling that some of the people in the Facebook forums you use aren't really who they say they are?

"Social Media: we can create Social Network profiles (Facebook and MySpace), Professional Network profiles (LinkedIn and Naymz), Wiki articles (Wikipedia and Knol) and other various sites that we can easily control."

Have you ever wondered if the Wiki articles you read are really neutral?

Well now you have it, Folks-- PIRT #6033, submitted on August 25, 2016, is going to answer those questions for you. That is: unless the City of Greensboro decides to lie to us again.

Are you still reading Margaret? Stay tuned to Adding To Roch's Pile: Part 5, I promised you a Pulitzer Prize and I meant it.