GREENSBORO, NC -- Every election season, candidates for Greensboro city council talk about the importance of open and transparent government then, once elected, ignore affronts to openness and transparency.
State public records law defines some types of records as neither public nor confidential, it allows the custodian of those records discretion about whether or not to provide them to the public. When the city defines records as "police intelligence" or as "details of public security plans" in order to claim such discretion which it then exercises to keep records secret, that's not open and transparent.
The City of Greensboro reached new extremes this week though when, through the actions of City Attorney Mujeeb Shah-Khan in consultation with police Chief Ken Miller and Police Attorney Jim Clark, it attempted to exercise that discretion in a failed attempt to convince a judge to censor local newspaper Yes!Weekly.
Attempts at that kind of censorship are suitable for totalitarian
dictatorships and we, as citizens of Greensboro, must firmly say, "no,
you will not do that on our behalf."
It is time for Greensboro city council to intervene. It is well within the power of City Council to direct city staff to reorient their approach to government information, insisting that discretion fall to the side of openness and transparency. This latest stunt and the subsequent slap down by the judge are warning flags that the city's hunger for secrecy is a danger. It demands action.
Will city council take control or will they twiddle their thumbs? Since Mayor Robbie Perkins reportedly pushed for Shah-Khan's hire, he
should take the lead, unless he likes where things are going, of course.