Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Keep It Hidden Until All Blows Over

On Thursday, August 04, 2016, Jeff Sykes, Editor of Yes-Weekly submitted the following public information request # 5975 to the City of Greensboro as evidenced by Greensboro's Online Public Records System:

"From: Jeff Sykes [mailto:Jeff@yesweekly.com]
Sent: Thursday, August 04, 2016 5:42 PM
To: Keys, Jake
Subject: Request

Jake - Could I please request the following:
(Please note if any of this is available on city web tools)

1. Inspection and permit reports and approvals from 2013-present for the building located at 302-304 S. Elm Street currently home to Scuppernong Books. I want the items related to the building.

2. Notes or records of a meeting held on or about Dec. 17, 2013 where city officials discussed with representatives of Enfield LLC or Alex Ritchy concerning remodeling/construction work at 302-304 S. Elm Street as it relates to encroachments on 300 S. Elm St. (commonly known as the building north of 302-304 S. Elm St.)

3. Any emails between Sept. 1, 2013 and Dec. 31, 2013 that includes the search term Enfiled, Nancy Hoffman, Sidney Gray, Alex Ritchy, 300 S. Elm, 302 S. Elm, 304 S. Elm, 302-304 S. Elm.

If you can provide items 1 and 2 before item 3 that would be good.

Thanks,

Jeff
 
Jeff Sykes
Editor
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
YES! Weekly
5500 Adams Farm Lane, Suite 204
Greensboro, North Carolina 27407
United States of America
p. 336.316.1231
f. 336.316.1930
e. jeff@yesweekly.com
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
www.yesweekly.com"

As some are aware, on August 10, 2016, Jeff reported on how Greensboro City Councilwoman Nancy Hoffmann attempted to use her power as a city councilwoman to steal property belonging to Sidney Gray in an article titled, Lawsuit claims Hoffmann violated neighbor's property rights.

"Property owner Sidney Gray filed the suit in March against Hoffmann’s limited liability company, Enfield LLC and her hired contractor, Auburn Construction. The suit claims that the construction firm used a wall on Gray’s building as a support structure without permission and built a vestibule partially atop the wall. These encroachments are among a list of nine specific violations of Gray’s property rights that are at issue in the lawsuit.

Interestingly, the lawsuit refers to a claim by Hoffmann’s company that it has “adverse possession rights” to Gray’s property, despite North Carolina law requiring 20 years of occupancy for an “adverse possession” claim to be valid."
I submitted public information request # 6154 asking for a copy of request # 5975 on October 5, 2015.

The same day I received the following reply:

"From: Carter, Katherine Sent: Wednesday, October 05, 2016 12:37 PM To: recyclebill@gmail.com Subject: City of Greensboro: Public Records Request 6154

Good Afternoon Billy,

I received your request (PIRT 6154) regarding PIRT 5975.  I have made a note in the system to provide you with a copy of the response once PIRT 5975 is completed. 

Sincerely,

Katherine Carter, Public Records Administrator
Communications and Marketing Department - 336-373-3282
City of Greensboro
PO Box 3136, Greensboro, NC 27402-3136
www.greensboro-nc.gov"




On January 9, 2017, Jeff Sykes received the following reply. No, Jeff didn't sent it to me, it's located on the same Greensboro Online Public Records System linked above:

"Comments from: Katherine Carter ON 1/9/2017 4:41:40 PM
Added By: Meta CarterEmail sent to the requestor.
From: Carter, Katherine
Sent: Monday, January 09, 2017 4:35 PM
To: Sykes, Jeff
Subject: City of Greensboro: Public Records Request 5975
Hello Jeff,
I hope you had a nice weekend.
I have uploaded emails and photos responsive to your request (PIRT 5975) to the Public Affairs department folder on our FTP server, where it will be available for you to download until midnight tonight. I am still working through the “Enfield” email search, but I will have that one ready for you in the next few days.
Seven emails were redacted from the response. Two of these include personnel information and are protected by N.C.G.S. 160A-168, and five are not responsive to your request.
I will be in touch with you soon regarding the remainder of your request.
Sincerely,
Katherine Carter, Public Records Administrator
Communications and Marketing Department - 336-373-3282
City of Greensboro
PO Box 3136, Greensboro, NC 27402-3136
www.greensboro-nc.gov"

And yesterday, January 17, 2017, Jeff was sent the following:

"Comments from: Katherine Carter ON 1/17/2017 5:09:27 PM
Added By: Meta CarterResponse sent to the requestor. PIRT has been closed.
From: Carter, Katherine
Sent: Tuesday, January 17, 2017 5:09 PM
To: 'Jeff Sykes'
Subject: RE: Enfield
Good afternoon Jeff,
Please find attached the final records responsive to your request (PIRT 5975) regarding 302-304 South Elm Street.
Your “Enfield” search collected a total of 278 emails. Of these, 8 emails were responsive to your request. The vast majority of the emails collected by this search pertained to Enfield, NC or Enfield, CT, or to individuals with the last name Enfield, or Greenfield. There were also emails that referenced addresses on Enfield Drive, as well as a publishing company, and a motorcycle company that also go by the name Enfield.
If you have any questions about the non-responsive emails, please feel free to let me know.
Sincerely,
Katherine Carter, Public Records Administrator
Communications and Marketing Department - 336-373-3282
City of Greensboro
PO Box 3136, Greensboro, NC 27402-3136
www.greensboro-nc.gov"

What makes the story really interesting is the paper trail, the comments. You see, the information was gathered months before it was ever released, then held as if someone was waiting for the storm to blow over:


"Comments from: Katherine Carter ON 1/17/2017 5:17:39 PM
Added By: Meta Carter

A copy of the records responsive to this request has been made available to those who requested the same. If you would also like a copy of the response to this request, please contact the PIRT Administrator at inforequest@greensboro-nc.gov.
Comments from: Tiffany Temple ON 8/8/2016 3:07:30 PM
FOR Information Technology
Exported 1400 his on 8/8/16 and notified K Carter.
Comments from: Hanna Cockburn ON 8/9/2016 9:49:12 AM
FOR Planning
Added By: Johanna Cockburndetermining if planning has any records pertaining to request #2.
Comments from: Hanna Cockburn ON 8/10/2016 8:37:05 AM
FOR Planning
Added By: Johanna CockburnPlanning has no records that are responsive to this request.
Comments from: Michael Lewis ON 8/11/2016 3:48:58 PM
FOR Engineering and Inspections
Uploaded permits, inspections, meeting request, and pictures for requested addresses.
Can check plan review status and comments at :
http://webapps.greensboro-nc.gov/PlanReview/
Comments from: Katherine Carter ON 8/16/2016 12:08:48 PM
Added By: Meta CarterSpoke with the requestor regarding the size of the email search response. Requestor reduced the scope of his request. Asked that the same terms and time frame be used for the search, but in searching City Staff emails, limited the search to the Planning, E&I, and Executive Departments.
Comments from: Tiffany Temple ON 8/16/2016 12:53:34 PM
FOR Information Technology
Exported 339 hits to K Carter on 8/16/16.
Comments from: Katherine Carter ON 10/5/2016 11:41:35 AM
Added By: Meta CarterMr. Billy Jones has also asked to receive a copy of this response at recyclebill@gmail.com.
Comments from: Katherine Carter ON 11/15/2016 11:20:27 AM

Added By: Meta Carter
Emails requiring additional review have been sent to Legal."

So will it all just blow over?

Throughout this series of e-mails between Sidney Gray and Greensboro City Attourny, Thomas Carruthers, Mr Carruthers continued to make the point that Councilwoman Hoffmann's construction was in compliance with building codes but as Mr Gray points out, building coders were not the issue:

"Thank you all for your prompt reply.  I have been speaking with my attorney about this matter.  I wanted you to understand that even though the construction has been up to Code unfortunately it ison my property - including the addition to my building in 1928 which was not a part of the PartyWall Agreement of 1896.  My emails were to keep you informed.

Thanks again and have a good day.

Sidney Gray"

Was City Attorney Thomas Carruthers attempting to cover up for Councilwoman Nancy Hoffmann? She is, after all, one of the 9 council members who could fire him from his job. Was Carruthers coerced by members of City Council to railroad Sidney Gray?



And then there's the building permits.

While a permit was issued for Nancy Hoffmann's building there was no permit issued for Sidney Gray's building. And yet, as Jeff Sykes reported in , Lawsuit claims Hoffmann violated neighbor's property rights:




"Property owner Sidney Gray filed the suit in March against Hoffmann’s limited liability company, Enfield LLC and her hired contractor, Auburn Construction. The suit claims that the construction firm used a wall on Gray’s building as a support structure without permission and built a vestibule partially atop the wall. These encroachments are among a list of nine specific violations of Gray’s property rights that are at issue in the lawsuit."

Now would building a vestibule partially atop the wall of another building not also require a building permit also be issued for that building as well? Not to mention the fact that Nancy Hoffmann's contractor actually broke into Sidney Gray's building in order to gain access to the building.

And on January 17, 2017, after everything has blow over months ago, the City of Greensboro finally releases what was public information all along.

How's that for open and honest city government?

Finally there's this e-mail from a Greensboro building inspector, dated December 17, 2013, to, among others, Thomas Carruthers:

"Bill Benjamin, attorney for the owners of 300 S Elm Street (Sydney and Ricky Gray) called to request this meeting.  They have some concerns about the work being done on and adjacent to the party wall, and agreements that were made between the owners of the properties when 302 was built.

Mr. Benjamin advised me that, although the common wall between the building was adapted for joint service between the two buildings when 302 was constructed, it is entirely on the property at 300 S. Elm.  If that’s the case, the north wall of 302 S. Elm St. is an encroachment that was not identified on the plans."

Not only did Greensboro's elected leaders and legal department know about it, they tried to keep it hidden from the public for over 3 years during which time Nancy Hoffmann was reelected to office.

These are the people you keep electing to public office-- why?

Meanwhile, 7 members of Operation Transparency are arrested just this morning for demanding the truth in another public records issue.

Can you see where this is going? Left, right or center, the Greensboro City Council doesn't want you to know the truth and will work to keep it hidden until it all blows over.

Update: January 19, 2017, the link above has been taken down by the News & Record, apparently in an effort to cover up for the actions of the Greensboro Police Department. It has been replaced with a print story and edited videos, Seven face misdemeanor in City Hall protest, Greensboro refuses document demand (Videos)



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