Thursday, February 2, 2017

City Of Greensboro Still Dragging Their Feet On Filling Public Information Requests

On February 10, 2016, a Mr Hugh Sandoe submitted Public Information Request #5480 as evidenced by the City of Greensboro online Public Information System.

Above is a screen grab of Mr Sandoe's request. Clicking on it will make the picture larger.

The following was the first reply to Mr Sandoe on Fedurary 12, 2016:

"On Feb 12, 2016 1:08 PM, "Carter, Katherine" wrote:
Hello Mr. Sandoe,

Thank you for your public records request in which you stated the following, “I am researching Ordinances 14-0794 and 14-0833,regarding non discrimination for city employees and fair housing. passed in city council on January 6, 2015, and were items 15-0021 and 15-022 on the meeting agenda. I would like to know as much as possible about the people who researched and created the ordinances, and what first caused interest in the issue. Key policy supporters, creators, and advisers, would be very helpful, as well as emails or other documents that outline how the ordinances came to be. Thank you.”

The purpose of our PIRT (Public Information Request Tracking) system is to provide open access to the City’s public records. However, our PIRT policy (attached) clarifies that “Requestors should be aware that the public records policy does not require the City to do research, analyze data or answer written questions.” The better part of your request above appears to be comprised of questions, however I can help you with your email search, which may in turn answer some of your questions.

Please advise what subjects, time frame, and key terms you would like used for your search. Based on the information you provided, I would recommend a time frame of 7/6/2014 – 1/6/2015 (6 months prior to the Council meeting), key terms of “code of ordinances with respect to personnel” or “non-discrimination policy” or “sexual orientation,” or “gender identity” or “ gender expression” or “discrimination.” I would also recommend isolating the search to emails to/from employees in the Human Resources department.

Please advise if you are agreeable to this set of criteria, and I will begin working on your search; alternatively, if you have any edits to the search criteria, please let me know. You can also call or email me back to discuss your request. The best hours to reach me by phone are between 9:00 am and 1:00 pm at (336) 373-3282.

I hope to hear from you soon.


Katherine Carter, Public Records Administrator
Communications and Marketing Department - 336-373-3282
City of Greensboro
PO Box 3136, Greensboro, NC 27402-3136

Please note that email sent to and from this address is subject
to the North Carolina Public Records Law and may be disclosed to third parties."

Mr Sandoe wrote back on February 15, 2016:

"From: hugh sandoe []
Sent: Monday, February 15, 2016 11:45 AM
To: Carter, Katherine
Subject: Re: City of Greensboro: Public Records Request 5480

That is a fine criteria, It would be great if emails between HR and the mayor could be included. Thanks

The only updates and notes on PIRT 5480 are as follows:

"Comments from: Tiffany Temple ON 2/17/2016 4:15:24 PM
FOR Information Technology
Exported 911 hits on 2/17/16 and notified K Carter.
Comments from: Katherine Carter ON 5/23/2016 12:09:55 PM
Added By: Meta CarterMr. Billy Jones has also asked to receive a copy of this response at
Comments from: Katherine Carter ON 2/15/2016 1:42:14 PM
Added By: Meta CarterReceived response from the requestor confirming the criteria to use for the email search."

It appears the search was done on February 17, 2016 and the information all gathered on or before May 23, 2016.

So why did Mr Hugh Sandoe and myself not receive confirmation that the Public Information Request had been fulfilled until February 2, 2017 when we both got the following e-mail?

Where was this information from May 23, 2016 until February 2, 2017?

Was it lost?
Was it being modified?
Was it being redacted?
Were parts of it being removed?
Were fake e-mails being generated to replace the e-mails someone didn't want leaked?
Why did it take over 8 months from the time the information was gathered until the information was released?

After all, as Ms Carter said in her e-mail to Mr Sandoe above:

"As you may be aware, we recently did away with the policy of removing duplicative and nonresponsive emails from searches, however this request was partially processed prior to this policy change.   In an effort to return the response to you as soon as possible, we continued working on your request rather than circling back and re-reviewing the excluded emails."

So streamlining the process makes it take longer? Seriously?

The longer it takes the City to process a public information request, the less dirt we find. Think about it.