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A coalition of 10 media outlets filed a lawsuit Monday against the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill over the university's refusal to release information about employees punished or dismissed in the wake of the Wainstein report on academic irregularities. This is the third public records lawsuit against the university since the academic-athletic scandal began in 2010.
Media outlets asked Mecklenburg Superior Court Judge Richard Boney to unseal court orders authorizing the surveillance after the existence of the secret program was revealed by the Charlotte Observer in October. The District Attorney's office must now review hundreds of cases to determine if information was improperly kept from defendants in cases dating back to 2010.
Under threat of sanction from the State Board of Education, Charter Day School, Inc. finally released salary information to the Department of Public Instruction. Despite Charter Day stamping the information a "trade secret," DPI said it will release the data to the public Monday evening.
UNC Chapel Hill Vice Chancellor and General Counsel Leslie Strohm has accepted a similar position at the University of Louisville. Strohm has been the university's top attorney through several public records lawsuits.
Toward the end of a wide-ranging interview with WFAE public radio in Charlotte, Gov. Pat McCrory said that the state's personnel laws need to be changed to allow more transparency. McCrory's statement was in response to a question about the resignation of Charlotte-Mecklenberg Schools Superintendent Heath Morrison.
The Sylva Herald: The SBI is investigating allegations of rape and underage drinking related to a high school Halloween party. The party was held at the business of a contractor with the sheriff's office, and was attended by a deputy and a county dispatcher. Superior Court Judge Brad Letts sealed court records related to the investigation for 90 days.
Gov. Pat McCrory held an invitation-only meeting Thursday with representatives of state and federal agencies as well as the oil and gas industry to discuss the possibilities of offshore drilling in North Carolina. Several environmental groups requested the meeting be open to the public. McCrory opened the meeting at the end for a question and answer session.
The State Board of Education is threatening sanctions against Charter Day School, Inc., of Wilmington, in an ongoing dispute over disclosure of salaries of employees contracted through a for-profit company. Charter Day School has refused to disclose them to the state unless a promise of confidentiality is made and it has not provided the information when requested under the N.C. Public Records Law.
The Charlotte Observer and WBTV on Friday filed a motion in Mecklenberg County Superior Court seeking access to court files related to Charlotte-Mecklenberg Police Department's use of StingRay technology, which mimics cellphone towers and allows police to track cellphone use. The court files have remained sealed at the police's request, and the records go back to 2006.
As part of the university's response to a long-running academic and athletic scandal, it launched a new public records tracking website Wednesday. The public can see what requests have been made of the university.
The Times-News: On Friday, the Burlington Times-News filed a public records lawsuit against Alamance-Burlington School System over minutes from closed meetings that led to the resignation of Superintendent Lillie Cox. The newspaper requested the meeting minutes in early October. The school system claims they are confidential. Closed session minutes become public once their release would not frustrate the purpose of the closed session.
A two-story gay pride flag was hung from Asheville City Hall Thursday in anticipation of a historic civil rights ruling. The city council apparently approved the display outside of a public meeting and the decision has drawn an open meetings complaint.
Watauga Democrat: A recently formed nonprofit has hit multiple hurdles after requesting records related to a Boone water intake project on the New River. The group is now asking for mediation over the dispute.
Watauga Democrat: A Watauga GOP leader requested emails of a professor, who is active in Democratic politics, in October 2013. The university says the dealy is a result of the size of the request, which covers more than 19,000 emails.
StarNews: The same information was the subject of a public records request from the StarNews, which has since sued to get access.
The City of Greensboro considers video collected by body worn cameras to be personnel records of the individual officers. The panel discussion was intended to spur discussion about possible changes to the public records law.
Earlier this year the ethics commission pulled its online portal of disclosure forms over privacy concerns from public officials. The deadline to comment is Oct. 3
The City of Greensboro is hosting a panel discussion on the use of body-worn cameras by police officers and the state's public records law. The Sept. 30 discussion will include civil rights, press and government lawyers.
Asheville Citizen-Times: Despite claiming videos of public rallies - from Mountain Moral Monday to Tea Party events - were made for training purposes, the Asheville police denied a records request to inspect them citing the criminal intelligence exemption.
CBSSports: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Louisiana State University were the only two public schools to deny scholarship records requests. CBS' reporter sought information about how many multi-year athletic scholarships the universities awarded, how many were not renewed, generic copies of scholarship agreements and documentation of non-renewal policies.
The Stokes News: The Stokes County Board of County Commissioners met in closed session 75 times over a period of four years. Democratic Party leaders in the community are questioning the propriety of the meetings and why minutes have not been released.
The Star-News of Wilmington filed an open records lawsuit Thursday against Charter Day School, Inc. over financial records. The paper asked for the records in May.
Star-News: Lack of transparency in removal of public official has created tension in the gated community of St. James, which is also incorporated as a municipality.
WRAL requested the agency-level data from the Department of Public Safety, which said the information was covered by the security plan exemption to the state public records law. North Carolina is one of a small number of states that has refused to release the information.
WFMY News 2: Greensboro officials are putting together a panel discussion on when and how video recorded by cameras worn by police officers should be released to the public.
The General Assembly passed a budget over the weekend that contains new public records law exemptions for schematic diagrams of school buildings, and scholarship applications to the State Education Assistance Authority. The budget bill is now on the desk of Governor Pat McCrory.
On Wednesday, the Senate passed HB 366, which creates a special exemption from the public records law for complaints made tot he Department of Environment and Natural Resources about violations on agricultural operations. The bill returned to the House, Thursday, which also approved the final version.
Star-News: Several media outlets began requesting records related to Charter Day School Inc. in May. Some records were turned over. For others, the school said it would respond by Monday. Now it says it will be two more weeks pending a change in state law.
Watchdog.org: Requests for email of two university professors were denied on the grounds that the emails on N.C. State accounts related to private consulting jobs and therefore did not qualify as public records.
Fayetteville Observer: A bill making state government records related to military base realignment a secret unamimously passed the General Assembly Wednesday and is headed to Gov. McCrory. The information will become public after federal officials announce realignment decisions.
The two faculty members from Elon University's School of Communications offered presentations to rising high school seniors.
The Daily Tar Heel: Superior Court Judge Howard Manning ordered that search warrants and a 911 call related to the 2012 killing of Faith Hedgepeth be unsealed. The records had remained sealed since shortly after the UNC junior's death.
Charlotte Observer: Gov. Pat McCrory vowed Monday to override a charter school reform bill if it allows schools to withhold names of employees.
Charlotte Observer (6/27/14): As some charter school's around the state have balked at providing employee names and salaries under the public records law, the Senate moved to make it clear that charter schools must comply. The House approved an amendment to the bill Thursday that would allow the schools to withhold only the employees' names.
Gov. Pat McCrory on Tuesday signed an economic development reform bill that significantly reduces the amount of information available under the public records law.
News & Record (6/18/2014): Photographs taken of people after they are arrested would only become public records upon conviction if a proposal pending in the General Assembly passes into law.
WRAL (6/4/2014): As part of a reorganization of how economic development activities are carried out in North Carolina, the General Assembly is considering broadening the public records exemption for tax incentives programs.
A provision in the budget bill would require records seekers asking for booking photographs to affirmatively state their intent for the photograph. The bill would make it a crime to publish mug shot photos for publishers that demand money before taking them down. It also would require publishers to remove or retract the photographs and any descriptions of an arrest if the charges are dropped or the person is acquitted.
Independent Tribune: A bill introduced last week would require school systems to create schematic diagrams of school facilities and then provide a copy to local law enforcement. The diagrams would be exempted from the public records law.
WRAL (5/20/14): A bill introduced last week in the General Assembly would create an exemption from the public records law for any document that contains aerial photographs or GPS data of farms.
News & Observer (5/20/2014): Superior Court Judge Bryan Collins ruled Monday that releasing a spreadsheet that shows athletes enrollment in by sport in fraudulant classes, with names redacted, would violate federal student privacy protections.
Winston-Salem Journal (5/12/14): Judge Thomas Schroder of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina heard arguments Friday on the concept of legislative immunity. The arguments were part of a challenge to the state's new voter ID requirement. The ruling could potentially have an effect on the N.C. Public Records Law.
Triangle Business Journal (5/6/2014): Richard Lindenmuth, interim CEO of the Economic Development Partnership of N.C., told the TBJ that the records law was to blame for Toyota choosing Texas over North Carolina for its new North American headquarters.
News & Observer (5/2/2014): Wake County Superior Court Judge Bryan Collins will review UNC-Chapel Hill records that show enrollments of athletes in fraudulent classe as part of a public records lawsuit brought by the newspaper.
At a town hall-style meeting of the Lee County commissioners last month, residents were required to give their names to a security guard before being allowed onto the property. The meeting was in a private, gated-community. One of the residents, Joseph Calendine, who was initially turned away by the security guards before giving his name filed a lawsuit Friday against the commissioners. He's asking the court for an injunction requiring the commissioners to comply with the North Carolina Open Meetings Law.
Sunshine Day 2014 will be held on Monday, March 17 on the campus of Elon University. Check here for information about late registration, parking and finding the Lakeside conference rooms on campus
WRAL (3/13/14): A lawyer who practices unemployment law sued the state under the open records law earlier this month after the Division of Employment Security announced plans to reduce the frequency of releases about people who are denied benefits. A superior court judge issued a temporary injunction Thursday preventing the division from making that change until the case is heard.
Wilson Daily Times (3/9/14): The Attorney General's Office sent Middlesex a letter suggesting that it should reconsider its policy of charging $34 an hour for requests that take more than 30 minutes to fulfill. The letter also offered to mediate disputes between residents and the town
Sanford Herald (3/8/14): Lee County commissioners held a town hall-style meeting in the private Carolina Trace community Friday night. Residents who refused to give their names to the Carolina Trace security guard were denied entry.
From WUNC (3/7/2014): Conservative think tank Civitas Institute made a public records request last fall for the emails of UNC law professor Gene Nichol. Professors from around the state decried the records request as politically motivated. One thousand emails were recently turned over to Civitas, which after analyzing them says an anti-poverty program put together by Nichol amounted to a political activity. Nichol is director of UNC's Center on Poverty.