Eric Robert finished fourth out of four in the May 17 mayoral primary, but the lack of public support has not quieted him down.

While a mayoral candidate Robert filed a lawsuit over public records not being released by the Greensboro Coliseum.  He also used his mayoral campaign to attack Downtown Greensboro Inc. (DGI) President and District 3 City Council candidate Zack Matheny.

Robert is continuing his attacks on Matheny and is threatening another lawsuit over the records of DGI, which he claims is a government entity and therefor subject to the open meetings and public records laws of the state.

Robert is engaged in a lengthy email discussion with Greensboro City Attorney Chuck Watts about his claims.

In an email to Watts, Robert states, “When reading the statute below, it is clear that:

  1. Zack Matheny will be a “Public Officer or Official”
  2. Downtown Greensboro is an Municipal service District aka special district.”

According to Robert, because Matheny will be an elected official and Downtown Greensboro Inc. receives funding from the Downtown Business Improvement District, DGI is a public entity as defined in the public records and open meetings laws and should comply with those laws.

Watts, who unlike Robert is an attorney licensed to practice law in North Carolina, disagrees.

Watts in an email states, “Your point 2. is simply not correct. DGI is not a ‘Municipal service District’ [sic].  DGI is a private not for profit entity that contracts with the City to provide services to the District.  Check the Secretary of State website, if you doubt my word.  It might be helpful to this discussion if you consult with a lawyer before you attempt to make legal arguments.”

In an earlier email Robert asked, “When Zack Matheny gets seated as a city council member, will the DGI’s records be considered public records as they will be existing and in his possession?”

To this Watts responded, “No.”

Watts does not go into detail, but the idea that the records of a business or a nonprofit corporation where a councilmember works would be deemed “public records” because they are an elected official is quite a stretch.

District 3 City Councilmember Justin Outling is a partner in the Brooks Pierce law firm, but so far no one has argued that the documents of that law firm are public records because Outling is a city councilmember.

Perhaps more to the point, City Councilmember Yvonne Johnson is the executive director of One Step Further, a nonprofit organization that has a contract with the city to run the Cure Violence program, and again so far no one is maintaining that all the records of One Step Further are public records because Johnson is city councilmember.