Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Adding To Roch's Pile: Part 8

If you've been reading our series, Adding To Roch's Pile thus far you understand that the City of Greensboro has problems with transparency. And it's not just us at EzGreensboro.com that are complaining about it. At the Inside Scoop blog, News & Record journalist Margaret Moffett writes in her post, Suit challenges city's response on public record:

"Jones has said he will run for mayor of Greensboro next year, in part to fix some of the city's issues with transparency. Jones and George Hartzman, one of EZGreensboro's regular contributors, have been critical of the News & Record in the past for its coverage (or lack of coverage) of city issues.

Scoop doesn't expect that to change.

But most journalists, even those engaged in vigorous competition, find common ground when it comes to public records.
The requests EZGreensboro lists in the suit, including those from 2015, are reasonable - large though they may be."
Yes, we've been hard on the N&R in the past. No it won't change. And I expect the same in return. It goes with the territory. But when they do right I call that too and this time Margaret and the N&R are right.

I picked up 4 public information requests from the City of Greensboro this morning including one that we've been waiting on for over 45 weeks. Does that mean the lawsuit will be dropped? No,hell no!  While they sent us e-mails they left out hundreds of attachments to those e-mails. What good is an e-mail that simply says "See attachment." and tells you nothing more?

After waiting almost a year I can't help but feel as if this is but another deliberate attempt on the part of the City of Greensboro to hide public information from the public. As a matter of fact I sent the following e-mail just today.

Apparently, because it's your money, Greensboro Taxpayers, they don't care that I'm suing the City of Greensboro. No, I'm not asking for money but don't be surprised if the City spends $100,000 or more trying to keep my case from going to court just as was done in Robert v City of Greensboro less than one year ago. And remember: Eric Robert was looking for records as well. Records which were never made public even after the trial.

They've made their bed.

So why are my public records requests so large? The answer is simple. Too often I don't know the exact name of the document or documents I need to see. And because the City of Greensboro's public information policy does not allow me to ask questions I must ask for everything pertaining to the subject matter to find what I'm looking for.

They create the work themselves. Answering a few simple questions honestly would solve this problem. As a matter of fact, when Sarah Healy was in charge of public information this was never a problem. Sarah simply asked me what it was I was looking for, gave it to me straight, and I modified my public information request to fit what Sarah gave me.

You see, like every blogger, activist and journalist in town, I quickly learned that Sarah could be trusted to be honest.

Margaret continues at the Inside Scoop:

"State law says North Carolina government bodies should produce public records "as promptly as possible."

EZGreensboro's suit is similar to one filed by the Raleigh News & Observer and several other news outlets against Gov. Pat McCrory. That suit, which is ongoing, alleges the administration engaged in “patterns and practices of delay, obfuscation, non-responsiveness, foot-dragging and stonewalling.”

Mike Tadych, one of the attorneys representing those news outlets, told the News & Observer earlier this year that their suit notes a "systematic delay in processing an enormous amount of public records requests.”
“We’re looking to determine why. Is it intentional? Is it incompetence? Is it a lack of training? Is it a lack of resources?”
EZGreensboro is making a similar argument."

That's not me talking, that's the Greensboro News & Record, the local paper of record, the print daily that has existed here in Greensboro in one form or another for over 100 years, telling you what Roch Smith jr, George Hartzman, Jeff Martin, myself and others have been telling you for years: Greensboro's leadership is corrupt and is denying us access to public records as a means to cover up their corruption.

And don't you find it the least bit ironic that I am suing Mayor Vaughan, City Manager Jim Westmoreland and the City of Greensboro for the very same offense the Greensboro City Council is suing the North Carolina Legislature for, at the very same time?

How can the City Council justify suing the Governor of North Carolina for something they routinely do?

Is this the end? No, stay tuned for Adding To Roch's Pile: Part 9 and please tell your friends about it too.