Sunshine week celebrates the bright light shining on government that ensures that government is accessible and responsive to the people -- after all, we are a government of, by and for the people.
Pat and his incompetent appointees have consistently all but refused to fuffill valid public records requests. They drag their feet. They try to charge exorbitant fees. Delays and inappropriate fees are illegal. Pat doesn't seem to care.
The delays mean the public lacks timely insight into how public dollars are being spent and how public servants are fulfilling their duties.
Pat doesn't care.
When Steckel abruptly resigned in September, The News & Observer requested access to Steckel’s work-related emails. WRAL separately requested all of Steckel’s emails that mentioned managed care.
Six months later, the department has yet to produce a single email.
Pat doesn't care. Or maybe Pat ordered this obstruction. We can't tell, because he refuses to produce the public records.
Maybe Pat's Prevaricators are really trying.
“We do want to turn requests around as promptly as possible,” Howell [one of Queen Aldona's cronies in charge of DHHS public records] said. “All records have to be reviewed individually to protect confidentiality.”
But others who have done Howell’s job said records requests should be filled in days or weeks, not six months or more.
Maybe we're being unfair. Maybe in this new world of government efficiency and customer service that Pat has instantiated in our state government, 6 months really is a reasonable amount of time to produce a few emails.
“Good Lord no, that’s ridiculous,” said Debbie Crane, who worked for 19 years as a public information officer, the last eight at DHHS. “Email is a pretty easy request to deal with.”
Crane said the longest lag time during her tenure was six weeks.
The story does not say whether or not Pat offered the public records requesters cookies while they waited.
But it sure seems that Pat is in clear violation of the law. Let's hope someone sues him.