The City of Greensboro is being threatened with a legal action over its failure to produce public records in a timely manner.
Since the person making this threat is Amiel Rossabi of Rossabi Law Partners, and it was made in a letter to Mayor Nancy Vaughan, members of the Greensboro City Council, City Manager Tai Jaiyeoba and City Attorney Chuck Watts, it can hardly be considered idle.
According to Rossabi’s letter on Jan. 4, 2022, he made a written request for information on “violent incidents” that occurred at “exempt facilities” from Jan. 1, 2016 through Dec. 31, 2021.
In that public records request, Rossabi defines “exempt facilities” to which the Greensboro Safety Review Board (GSRB) doesn’t apply as: “(1) uses, activities and facilities owned or operated by any Federal, State, County or local government agency or government-sponsored entity or events issued a special use permit by these entities; (2) Uses, activities and facilities owned or operated by any private educational institution or religious institution; (3) facilities operated by an organization designated as a non-profit entity under section 501(c) of the Internal Revenue Code, when the location is being operated by the non-profit entity; and (4) arts and crafts shows, athletic fields and athletic events, community festivals, carnivals, fairs or circuses, conventions, exhibition, trade shows, religious events and assemblies, parades.”
In other words, just about every entity is exempt except for privately owned for profit bars and restaurants.
Rossabi also asks for details about the actions taken by the City of Greensboro in response to these violent incidents that occurred at facilities exempt from the GSRB oversight.
In the letter Rossabi states, “The creation and implementation of the Greensboro Safety Review Board (‘GSRB’) and its concomitant standard operating procedure constituted unconstitutional and discriminatory action against private business owners.”
Finally, Rossabi states, “If I do not receive a substantive response to my PIRT [Public Information Request Tracking] request by Wednesday, March 16, 2022 I will file an action for Declaratory Judgement and seek my attorney’s fees.”
The North Carolina Public Records Law states, “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 …”
As Rossabi notes, he has waited over two months with no response from the City of Greensboro to his public records request.
It may be left to the courts to decide the promptness of a two month wait.
Good for you Mr. Rossabi hold their feet in the fire. They seem to forget just because they are in office that they have to answer to no one. We the voter’s are their bosses in every sense of the word and it’s about time they understand that and get off their high horse
Good luck with that Rossabi! Bet they’ll only show the card they want you to see. That’s all folks!
Go for it! Find out where some of our hard-earned cash is siphoned off to public free-loaders.
Are you really shocked at the city’s response? They only react to perceived racial issues.
Mandate Mayor and her overeaching strike again. Unconstitutional, punitive, and set up to fail like all of Mandate Mayors decrees that have been repealed or backtracked. For example when she tried to ban gun shows, force panhandling licences, having curfews for only downtown, and shutting down public speaking at meetings in person. PIRT requests are vital on a free society and with many millions of dollars in salaries to public officials this is unacceptable but part for the course with the secretive shenanigans we have endured in Mandate Mayors extremely overlong political career.
Fishing expedition with little hope of more than just wasting tax payers dollars.
It does not matter if it is a “fishing expedition.” By law they are to provide public records and the City of Greensboro as well as this council continually violate the law.
Still a waste.
Like the liberal socialist democrats that you support don’t already do that really chris what a total moron you are. Democrats = tax and spend then spend and waste more
I vote mostly republican in local elections. Just not the ones that claim Trump is their leader.
This is not the way it is supposed to work. A government for the people would provide public records without being sued as it is law and the right thing to do.
The city of Greensboro is notorious for ignoring constituents’ rights to public records…I have been waiting on some information since August 2021 regarding the elimination of gun shows at the Greensboro Coliseum.
let’s change that…
Hey, John Hammer! Thank you for writing about this. Every community needs a watchdog (or 20) who will document when governments violate the law to protect their own interests, and you have been one of Greensboro’s for a very long time. Public documents don’t belong to the city. They belong to — duh — the public. Withholding them is anti-democratic and authoritarian, regardless of the political party involved. Now, is there a legitimate reason why the city believes they have a right to withhold these particular documents? I dunno, but my guess is that someone would have responded to the request if that were the case.
In other business, this is something I DON’T miss about being a daily journalist!!
and just like that, the city released parts of Rossabi’s PIRT today! Too bad the city had to wait to be threatened with legal action to actually do what it was supposed to do all along. Let’s change that
He’s threatened legal action after only 2 mos? I’ve been waiting on 3 FOIAs from the Town of Jamestown— dated 1/26/21, 7/27/2021 and 7/30/21–and just received them today, 3/11/22. These are requests regarding information that is a matter of public record and outlined in their own governing documents. I had to follow-up on numerous occasions w/Town about status of requests; I had been informed months later my requests were open-ended/voluminous; I have entertained letters from the Town Atty about TWO of my outstanding requests and cost recovery attempts for work already performed; I responded requesting invoices supporting purported costs (BTW, to date, I have never received) and pared down requests for ease of research; I endured the Interim Town Mgr publicly shaming at a me for my efforts at a Town Council meeting and encouraging the Town to implement changes and passing a new Public Records Request Policy; I received a letter from the outgoing Interim Town Mayor regarding the status of my THREE outstanding requests and attempts to extort me for $725 on his last day of work with a 30-day deadline; I responded demanding proof of costs, once again oared down requested information, and used their “respond in 30 days” language against them; and, finally, I received most of the documentation I requested, with yet another demand to pay $725 for remaining documents requested and a 30-day notice or else they’re closing out my requests… to cover the “costs of one-time specific software” in order to fulfill my request—um, they’re on record of saying it involves 10,000 records, and work has already been performed and did I mentioned I pared down requests twice now??—prior to contacting me… so, NO!! I mean, really??? I’m the one holding them accountable and transparent for their inability to follow the rules, and this is how they string me along?? Of course, their FOIA policy states “fulfilled in a timely fashion”, which is subjective and basically means never…
Read, “The Law”, written in 1849, by a French economist, on his deathbed from TB. It’s a relatively short time at about 65 pages. I think it should be required reading in high school. It is as, if not more, important now as then. Concerning corrupt, leviathan government.
All I will say is the PIRT office can’t be a great place to work.
This is SIX YEARS worth of data for virtually the ENTIRE CITY.
I can assume it would be a big project to gather all that data and ensure it doesn’t contain information about ongoing investigations or sensitive information not for public release.
It doesn’t surprose me that it’s taken 2 months+ to get the info gathered.