Editorial: Dark side absorbing governor

Dec. 02, 2013 @ 11:33 PM

Gov. Pat McCrory and his administration have been presented an opportunity in public trust. Instead, they’ve sought the cloak of darkness.

We hold our votes as a means of remembrance.

Within the North Carolina public records law is a single reference allowing the government to make a charge for requests. Specifically, it reads “free or at minimal cost.”

Interpretation from McCrory’s staff is the authority to assess a “special service charge.” They’ve since sent out invoices for hundreds of dollars for requests of digital copies of emails, mostly to large media companies. Requests taking more than 30 minutes are getting charged.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services is among the state agencies attracting inquiries. They’ve hired former political campaign staff and paid them large sums despite little experience. They’ve also paid contractors who are politically connected, and had poor rollouts of computer systems for processing Medicaid claims and food stamp applications.

We found out about a lot of that because of public records requests.

The long delays and unprecedented demands for payment are unacceptable. These records are kept for the people, so we know what our government is doing and how they’re doing it. This administration is responsible to us.

Whether intentional or not, and we believe they are, the charges act as a deterrent for the work of our government to be reviewed by the people. That’s not good for them or us.

Remember, this is a governor who campaigned on the principles of transparency and against corruption in Raleigh.

Gov. Mike Easley was sued for mass deletion of emails by his administration. Gov. Bev Perdue’s executive order, in response, requires all state employee emails to be archived 10 years, and more than $1 million was spent so state employees could easily search and copy emails without assistance required by information technology staff.

McCrory’s administration says IT workers need $54.47 an hour to fetch email requests. What happened?

Rest assured, the value of our vote has gone up. We don’t have to tie it to a single act, or failure to act, by a politician.

But they will answer to us, when we make requests, and when we cast our ballots.