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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Template for Request of Public Information from the City of Hickory

Place the Date on this line (ex: January 1, 2009)

Ms. Arnita Dula
Staff Attorney
City of Hickory
N. Center Street
Hickory, North Carolina 28601

Dear Ms. Dula, This letter is a request for all public documents pertaining to (The issue that you would like information on). I am entitled to the public information that I am requesting according to Chapter 132 of the General Statutes of the State of North Carolina’s General Assembly.

According to the North Carolina Public Records Law, “The public records and public information compiled by the agencies of North Carolina government or its subdivisions are the property of the people.” Your cooperation is greatly appreciated in my attempt, as a public citizen, to understand the facts of this issue.

Thank You,
(Your Signature Here)

Phone Number for contacting you

The Hounds Advice: If under any circumstances you are given the runaround, I want you to contact us at We want to publicize such incidents and get to the root cause of why the City would not willingly provide the information.

If the city asks you to provide a request in writing for specific information that you may be looking for, let them know that it is a violation of State Law for them to require you to give them a written request or to explain who you are or what you want to see, pursuant to North Carolina General Statute 132-6.

If you need help with your letter of request, you can contact me at the e-mail address above and I will do my best to help you. Be nice to them, be accommodative, be courteous, but be assertive of your rights.


ant. a. said...

Thanks James,

this is good stuff to have and to know. I'd put this as a main link on your sidebar so it doesn't get lost behind other posts.

Anonymous said...

Also be aware - one of their tactics is to tell you that the cost of duplicating this will be some astronomical number. You don't have to have copies made; you're entitled to just have the information compiled, and can then tell them what copies you want (if any). They're only supposed to charge the actual cost of duplication, although they charge much, much more ($.25 per page for letter size). You should get proof that you've delivered the request (like a receipt), and some committment as to when it'll be returned. The City has some requests out that are YEARS old that they're simply ignoring. If you aren't aggressive, you'll be plowed under.

James Thomas Shell said...

Thank You for passing that information along.

Yes, you need to be insistent. But, you should also be polite. If you are polite and they don't cooperate, then they are trying to hide something. If you are rude, then they probably just don't want to cooperate because you are being rude.

Don't let them run over you. If you need any help with your request please contact us. We want to help as much as we can.

If you need any info from another bureau of the government, then please contact us and we will try to help you with that also.

We have rights to transparency from our government, because we are the government.

BTDT said...

I just wanted to 2nd anonymous' post. Every fiscal year the city sets costs on everything from water and sewer service to the price of copies, and .25/page is what they charge. You have a right to go in and look at the information you want, make notes, and just have relevant pages copied. Most departments don't want to be bothered gathering the information for you, and if you're asking to see something, it's assumed you're planning to cause trouble. You will get a "you don't know what you're asking" look before being solemnly told they will be glad to make copies, but they have to charge for them. Give thought, too, to how and what you ask...your request will be used to specifically produce the minimum amount of information necessary for them to say "I gave him/her what he/she wanted."

Anonymous said...

Requests don't have to go through the attorney. Anyone can make a request for any document from the person who has that document, and it's supposed to be honored. Other governments have gotten sued over requiring requests to be monitored or answered by either the Manager or the legal people.

Deb said...

I want to know why the City didn't remodel West Hickory/Westmont's gymn to comply with the American's with Disabilities Act, signed by Pres. Clinton in 1990. Been over two decades now without compliance. Now they are telling us that we may have to have our gymn closed due to the non-compliance and the cost to adjust/comply. We've already lost our pool. Why was the City in violation of Federal Law? What Federal agency needs to be contacted?