Friday, September 16, 2016

Adding To Roch's Pile: Part 5

If you are new to this series I highly recommend you begin with Adding To Roch's Pile: Part 1, and bring yourself up to speed. All the posts are linked so you can easily follow your way back to here.

In Adding To Roch's Pile: Part 4 I dropped a bomb shell on readers when I made public the City of Greensboro's business relationship with a company known as  Reputation Management Consultants,

As you can see in the photos below I have e-mailed the Greensboro City Council using the form on the City of Greensboro website demanding an up front and honest explanation of that business relationship. If past experiences with the City Council are any example we'll never get such an explanation. You may click on the photos to make them bigger.

Now, speaking of waiting on public information requests and efforts on the part of the Greensboro City Council to keep the truth hidden I'd like to take some time to tell you about an experience I had back in.... No wait, why don't I point you to an experience Roch Smith jr and John Hammer had back in the early part of 2013 so you can see just how far back this problem goes.

In a post titled City public information response: delay, obfuscate & manipulate, Roch Smith jr wrote:

"In July of last year, I made a request for records documenting access to City surveillance cameras. In recent months, I have been going back and forth with a city public relations employee about why the response to my request only included information about private security guards (no city employees or others). After months of what felt like banging my head against a wall, the employee admitted she did not have an answer for that and said she would forward my question to others, including the Police Department, for an answer.
The next day, on a Saturday, no less, Police Chief Ken Miller responded to the city employee. When did I finally receive the Chief's response? Two weeks later. 
That's right, the Chief of Police jumps to answer a citizen's question on a weekend and the City's handler lets it hibernate in her inbox for two weeks before forwarding it along (and that only after the Chief's reply was misrepresented to me and I asked for his original response—more on that in a minute)"

Wow, that pushes the problem all the way back to 2012.  Roch also wrote:

"As a result of those additional requests, I've identified at least nine types of records that should have been provided in response to my initial request — records I did not receive. I've made nine new requests for those records specifically. It's not my fault nor my pleasure that the City couldn't simply fill my request when I first asked."

Roch also made mention of some concerns that John Hammer voiced:

 "In an insightful piece about the City of Greensboro's plans to add multiple new layers of bureaucratic intervention to public records access, Rhino Times editor John Hammer warns "that public records requests that should take minutes may take months."

Sadly, link rot has set in at the Rhino Times and we are unable to read the rest of what Mr Hammer had to say.

And like I said, this is far from a new problem. Roch's own documentation dates back to at least Thursday, December 13, 2012 if not longer.

Remarkably, the problem was fixed for a time when the City of Greensboro hired a young lady named Sarah Healy to oversee public records for the City. Ms Healy had formerly worked in public records for the Federal Government in Washington, DC. She knew her job, had a passion for open and honest government, and refused to tell a lie.

So what happened to Sarah, the young woman every journalist, activist and blogger in Greensboro praised? She was so good at her job she was promoted right out of the department to a position where she has no access to public records. But hey, at least they gave her a raise in pay for she certainly deserved it. When I'm elected Mayor of Greensboro I plan to look Sarah up and see where the City might better use such an honest and hard working employee best. Hope your husband and the baby are well, Sarah.

This is the history the Greensboro City Council doesn't want told and there's more where this came from. Will I win my law suit against the City of Greensboro? I admit, going up against the deep pockets your tax dollars provide them will be hard but you and I will know the truth even if the law dogs eat me alive.

As a followup I sent this second public information request to the City of Greensboro:

And seconds later this appeared in my inbox to confirm the City's receipt:

So why is doing business with RMC such a big deal? Well there are those who believe that what RMC does cannot be done without hacking into websites to remove embarrassing content for their clients. For example, in 2012, Fox Tech reported on RMC competitor Rexxfield was caught doing to a site called Rip Off Report:

"But Meade said Rexxfield owner and operator Michael Roberts was preparing to purchase a coding hack he called “injection source code” that lets the user manipulate the metadata behind a website, adding a “noindex" tag that drops the results on search engines like Google and Bing -- hiding them completely.

Meade said Roberts showed him the code injector’s effectiveness by hacking into Ripoff Report, a complaint board site.

“He told me, ‘watch what happens’ -- and sure enough, the results dropped,” Meade told “They were able to edit out anyone.”

Remember the Ashley Madison scandal? It seems RMC worked on that as well:

"Eric Schiffer, CEO of Reputation Management Consultants also spoke out about the boom in business he has gotten since the hack. “We’ve received unbelievably desperate calls from famous politicians, top celebrities and extremely wealthy executives freaking out,” he said. “Lives are getting destroyed worldwide, and people are scared and don’t want to be next.”

And then there's the prices charged by RMC:

"Specialists: He said that in just 24 hours, dozens of 'major players' called up the firm (pictured: its website), which charges clients from between $10,000 and $100,000 a month to repair and protect their reputations."

So what is the City of Greensboro paying Reputation Management Consultants to keep hidden from public view? What secrets are worth that kind of money? Could it be something that was posted here at Was it articles written in the News & Record. 

Or was that Southern Politician mentioned in both the articles I quoted about Ashley Madison, related to someone in Greensboro government? Either way it brings into question the kind of people who run our city and gives you yet another reason why you should support Billy Jones for Mayor of Greensboro in 2017.

Stay tuned for Adding To Roch's Pile: Part 6