The Gaston Gazette, a newspaper published out of Gastonia, recently commented on CLF’s latest transparency lawsuit:
Government too often tries to find ways to prevent the disclosure of information it has gathered. That action always leads to suspicion and distrust and erodes the relationship between government and the people in ways that harm progress.
The city of Belmont can stand tall by doing the right thing and, abiding by North Carolina law, making the findings of the police department investigation public.
That not only will avoid what can be a costly legal process for taxpayers, but also can lead to restoring the public’s trust in their government that nothing underhanded and unfair lead to the ouster of their police chief. And the Dietz family will know once and for all if the loss of their loved one was in any way related to the PD operations that were bad enough to fire the chief.
The editorial board of the Gazette recommends that the City of Belmont produce the disputed records voluntarily instead of going through the time and expense of a lawsuit. We would be happy to see the records produced in as timely a manner as possible.
While the Gazette‘s concerns about legal expenses are valid, CLF does our best to minimize the financial cost of lawsuits to government defendants, as we understand that at the end of the day this is taxpayer money. Ways to do this include framing the issues very clearly for the court and waiving mediation in transparency lawsuits under N.C.G.S. § 7A-38.3E(e).
CLF filed suit last month in Gaston County Superior Court on behalf of two plaintiffs seeking access to a third-party investigative report. We claim that the report is a public record, while the City claims it is a confidential personnel record. Read more about the case here.