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Thursday, March 20, 2014

Public Information, North Carolina General Statute 132, and Hickory Inc.

I'm not going to get into the case with the police officer arrested in Hickory from the aspect of the alleged assault. What I do want you to look at is how Hickory Incorporated has a long history of playing games with information and not following the letter or spirit of the law when in comes to providing requested information to the public. Let's ask Ms. Dula if it is her decision not to provide the requested information? Who is making the call to ignore, delay, manipulate, and/or obfuscate public information requests?

TERMINATED: Police officer fired; clerk of court’s office, city violate public records laws - Hickory Daily Record - EVAN MATSUMOTO - March 19, 2014

NC General Statute 132:
§ 132-1.  "Public records" defined.
(a)        "Public record" or "public records" shall mean all documents, papers, letters, maps, books, photographs, films, sound recordings, magnetic or other tapes, electronic data-processing records, artifacts, or other documentary material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made or received pursuant to law or ordinance in connection with the transaction of public business by any agency of North Carolina government or its subdivisions. Agency of North Carolina government or its subdivisions shall mean and include every public office, public officer or official (State or local, elected or appointed), institution, board, commission, bureau, council, department, authority or other unit of government of the State or of any county, unit, special district or other political subdivision of government.
(b)        The public records and public information compiled by the agencies of North Carolina government or its subdivisions are the property of the people. Therefore, it is the policy of this State that the people may obtain copies of their public records and public information free or at minimal cost unless otherwise specifically provided by law. As used herein, "minimal cost" shall mean the actual cost of reproducing the public record or public information. (1935, c. 265, s. 1; 1975, c. 787, s. 1; 1995, c. 388, s. 1.)

There are more rules when it comes to Public Information and you can read it in the link provided above, but the most important statement of the Statute above is that the information made or received pursuant to law or ordinance in connection with the transaction of public business by any agency of North Carolina government or its subdivisions is the property of the people.

When it comes to the purpose of the request and the timeliness of the fulfillment of the request.
 § 132-6.  Inspection and examination of records.
(a)        Every custodian of public records shall permit any record in the custodian's custody to be inspected and examined at reasonable times and under reasonable supervision by any person, and shall, as promptly as possible, furnish copies thereof upon payment of any fees as may be prescribed by law. As used herein, "custodian" does not mean an agency that holds the public records of other agencies solely for purposes of storage or safekeeping or solely to provide data processing.

(b)        No person requesting to inspect and examine public records, or to obtain copies thereof, shall be required to disclose the purpose or motive for the request.

(c)        No request to inspect, examine, or obtain copies of public records shall be denied on the grounds that confidential information is commingled with the requested nonconfidential information. If it is necessary to separate confidential from nonconfidential information in order to permit the inspection, examination, or copying of the public records, the public agency shall bear the cost of such separation on the following schedule:
Where have we seen this before?

A Well Crafted Run Around - August 5, 2013 

What if you made public information requests to the city government regarding a project for five months. Finally, you are invited to city hall to look at the information the city has put together. You are given a 500 page file of unorganized receipts, non-descript invoices, and confusing internal accounting spreadsheets. You have questions. You simply can't make sense of the information provided, so you ask questions and you are met with a wall.

Welcome to the party HDR... no turning back now! 

HDR turned back on Sunday March 23, 2014 in an OpEd Editorial

1 comment:

wandaarnold1716 said...

I am glad to see the editorial in today's paper urging compliance with the Freedom of Information Act. This is what we need the HDR to do: highlight the law, spell out why it is important amd call attention when it is violated.

I am also glad to see a reminder of the first amendment on every editorial page.