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« State your name | Main | In your own sweet way »

Nov 26, 2012


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Ben Holder

All calls to 373-2000 and 373-city are recorded and have been for at least six years. However, there is no message telling us that we are being recorded. Not too cool. Just heard city is changing policy and will begin letting us know when we are recorded. Yippee!


I'm pretty sure N.C. is a one-party consent state. http://www.detectiveservices.com/2012/02/27/state-by-state-recording-laws/

Ed Cone

IDARC (I don't always recall correctly).


Ben Holder

Just because its legal makes it ok? The practice of secretly recording people is not something the city has embraced. As a matter of fact, on April 1, 2010 the city put into place a policy that bans employees from taping employees without their knowledge. However, it's okay for the city to secretly tape the people calling? Legal isn't the issue. It's much more about trust and common decency. Don;t forget many members on this council were very much against secret tapings.

Ed Cone

I think people are just trying to place it on the spectrum of not okayness.

Ben Holder

I would imagine that most of your readers would appreciate being told if they were being recorded. If they were taped and not notified, I would think that would be kinda high on the spectrum of okayness. All the bullshit the city has made a point to tell us over the past six years and not one word about the city recording people? Just seems odd, weird, sneaky. Why did they fail to put a "your being recorded" portion on the recording we hear when we call?


I'm with Ben. What reason does the City have for surveilling citizens like this? Who accesses these recordings and for what purposes? Good job, Ben. Thank you.


From Cool Hand Luke...
Guard: [putting Luke in the box when he learns that his mother has died] Sorry, Luke. I'm just doing my job. You gotta appreciate that.
Luke: Nah - calling it your job don't make it right, Boss.

sal leone

I am no lawyer but from reading the law, only one party to the phone call has to know. I agree that telling the other person is the right thing to do, most companies tell you about it.


Were city staff aware that phone calls were being recorded? Because, if any particular staffer wasn't and the person calling wasn't, then laws were broken. Any chance the D.A. might investigate?


And another thing, I have made numerous requests for city records that included the phrase "all communications in any form" and have never received a recrding of a phone call. Has the city been withholding records too?

sal leone

Interesting point Roch, I remebre reading in case law where one person tapped a phone and neither party new of the recording, this was said to be a violation. The question is, does the phone have a notice on it, are city employees notified of same or which phones. This sounds like tatics from the stalin era.

Ben Holder

This was made effective on April 1, 2010

H-1 Disciplinary Action – Greensboro Personnel Policy, appendix 8.1

·Any one party audio or video taping of employees or citizens at any time without notifying all parties affected before the taping is initiated is prohibited. This does not apply to criminal investigations being conducted by the Police Department.

They have been violating their own policy!!!! Why make that policy and then trample all over it every single day of operation?

Ben Holder


From Cool Hand Luke...

Luke: Shakin' the bush, Boss. Shakin' the bush.

Ben Holder

Don't they video us at certain spots around town? Roch? Didn't I hear of that? If they do it's just another violation of their own policy. These people are dirty lil rascals aint they?


"Just because its legal makes it ok?"

How are the messages recorded?

Tape or digital?

Are there transcripts?

How long are they kept?

Who has access to what recordings of whose conversations?

Are there recordings between the city manager and Council Members?

Now that it is a known known, and therefore a public record,
who can separate what calls from whom?

Would love to get some clips of Andy Scott and Roy Carroll...

How about our Robbie's campaign contributor kid lobbyist
and whoever...

Landlords and the inspections department.

I can feel delete buttons warming up.


Is it just calls to the city on the main line,
or all the calls from anyone to anyone working for the city?

Ben Holder

It is all calls to 373-2000 and 373-city. They claim they keep them for six months and then delete them. Don't know the answers to the rest of your questions.

Andrew Brod

If it's just those two numbers, then that might answer Roch's question. I don't recall the nature of his records requests, but he wouldn't have received any phone records if his requests were (a) unrelated to calls coming in to those two general phone numbers, or (b) related to calls that took place more than six months earlier.

Per Hartzman's wish list, a call from Roy Carroll to Andy Scott's direct line (or vice versa) wouldn't be recorded.


If recordings of the calls to 373-2000 and 373-city are kept, six months might or might not be within state legal requirements for how long public records must be preserved before they can be destroyed. IIRC, AIMN (and I might not), the requirement is three years, with some exceptions on either end. Someone with more time than I have at the moment might wish to research that issue, as well.

Well done, Ben; good questions, all.

ben holder

They are violating there own policy again. No changes made by city. I pointed out to them that what they claim they don't do is actuall done. They have no shame. I got an email from the city yesterday saying that they were not violating any laws. However, they continue to look over/not mention the fact that they are violatig their own policy. Does the city managers office have nap time? Cookies? Where is the council on this? Maybe someone from city academy can explain it to me?


All municipalities in North Carolin are required to adopt a Record Retention policy that is approved by the Department of Cultural Resources in order to comply with state law regarding the preservation of records. Here is Greensboro's (it it the boilerplate written by the DOCR, with the exception of a wise amendment approved by City Council at the behest of former council person Mike Barber that preserves records for longer periods in some cases).

According to the retention schedule, records of "Citizen Complaints and Service Requests" are to be deleted one year after resolution; not six months from the date created.

This revelation conforms to a larger pattern of incompetence, if not malfeasance, when it comes to public records and the city of Greensboro. Ask anybody who has made inconvenient requests, Ben Holder, Jerry Bledsoe, John Hammer,Keith Brown, George Hartzman, me. It's enormously frustrating to confront staff who collect a check whether they abide by the law or flaunt it -- it can wear you out to the point of giving up. (There remain a few remarkable exceptions, like Betsy Richardson the City Clerk and the Engineering Department in general).

Every two years, council candidates swear up and down their allegiance to "transparency" and time after time, they fail to take any initiative once elected. When is the last time council did something proactive to improve city government transparency? Sure, there is often one council person, thankfully (Don Vaughan, Mike Barber, Nancy Vaughan), who will advocate for a citizen trying to break a logjam on a particular request, but the city really desperately needs a top to bottom reworking of its attitude towards and responses to records requests that will only come from a concerted and sustained effort by city council with some measurable benchmarks for improvement. Advocacy from local media would be helpful too, but John Hammer is the lone wolf, unfortunately.

BTW, Hartzman, how has the response been to this request of yours made two and a half months ago?

Please provide any City Council and City of Greensboro Government communications not directed to City Council's government email addresses since the beggining [sic] of 2012.


Here's an example of the kind of thing a City Council truly interested in transparency would do:

Any record related to public business, not otherwise restricted, is a public record independent of the platform or account on which it is created or received. Emails, texts and voicemail sent or received by the personal accounts of City Council persons and city staff are thus public records. Here is how the Department of Cultural Resources directs state employees to handle communications about public business made to or from personal accounts:

If a personal e-mail account is used for government business, employees are required to forward all e-mail messages to their government e-mail account. Those employees who do not have a government e-mail account are expected to print those e-mail messages following the terms of a records retention and disposition schedule.
That does not happen here in Greensboro. I have made scores of records requests for emails of public business over the last five years and have never, not once, received a record from a staff or council person's personal email account (Sorry, one exception that I can recall, Zack Matheny did provide a public record text I specifically requested). Yet, we know emails are sent and received by personal accounts as a matter of course. Here's an example of the chief of police sending a message to council persons' personal email addresses:

This is one concrete simple step council can take that would demonstrate a meaningful and significant commitment to transparency: Pass an ordinance requiring, under penalty of a fine, that elected officials and city staff abide by the same kind of directives given to state employees that public business emails (and texts) always be forwarded to government email accounts, where they become publicly accessible.

I'm not holding my breath.

Worst Person on the Internet

"I have made scores of records requests for emails of public business over the last five years and have never, not once, received a record from a staff or council person's personal email account "
Seems like you get blown off quite a bit, Roch, Hoffman most recently. Couldn't have anything to do with the way you come across to people, could it?


That's it? That's your contribution to this topic? I know I stick in your craw something bad, Dr. Hayes, but when it comes to how one comes across, I'd rather be seen as boisterous in defense of serious matters than petty for the sake of ineffective personal attacks. Makes you look very small.

Worst Person on the Internet

Personal? Did I call someone a coward, dolt, idiot, moron, on drugs, or detached from reality? I merlely ask questions, fervently defend free speech and diversity of opinion, and offer helpful suggestions where possible. What could be less personal?

Ed Cone

Roch, that shiny thing in the water is a hook. Just swim past it.


Yeah, sorry.


"Please provide any City Council and City of Greensboro Government communications not directed to City Council's government email addresses since the beggining [sic] of 2012."

Not a word.

Also have not received others.


"that shiny thing in the water is a hook.

Just swim past it."

Disney & Pixar's A Bug's Life - 2 mosquitos


Ben Holder

City now alerts callers they are being recorded. They started doing it shortly after 1pm today.


If you don't want to be recorded, but want to report an issue to the City, try using the mobile app SeeClickFix. (Too lazy to hyperlink; google will lead you there.) Issues reported go to the 373-CITY contact center.

sal leone

Good job ben, i guess the trolls/ bloggers can get somethings done. This is what I like, people fighting for people. By the way the video you made on Denise was very interesting, its better to be your friend I see then your enemy. Give me a buzz sometime and we can shoot the sh*t, we got things in common.


Ben's not a troll. He's the heavyweight champion of the world.


Because he said so. And that's the bottom line.


And when I posted that last comment, one of the words I had to type in to prove I wasn't a robot was


What's up with that?

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