Charlotte Observer: Lincoln County sheriff finds end-run around records law

From the the Charlotte Observer (12/13/10): The sheriff's office in Lincoln County has apparently found a way around a new law that cracks open previously classified personnel records for government workers: Fired workers won't receive written notification.

The law that took effect in October makes documents about suspensions, demotions and dismissals public.

But new Lincoln Sheriff David Carpenter said he plans to continue the department’s tradition of notifying fired employees verbally instead of issuing written letters.

Carpenter, who took office last week, promised to comply with the records law, but said “we’re not going to generate” new documents to satisfy requests by the public.

The comments come in response to an open records request by The Charlotte Observer, which has asked Lincoln County for five years of disciplinary records for the sheriff’s office.

Martha Lide, Lincoln County assistant manager, told the Observer the county has no record of dismissal letters or accompanying documents for sheriff’s office employees fired since 2005.

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