Friday, March 02, 2007

Egos and Elected Officials....Extreme to say the least

Here in North Carolina, there are two kinds of people...regular folk and elected officals. It's been pretty rough being an elected official in this state in recent years, with corruption lurking around corners and hiding in bathroom stalls at various waffle establishments in the capital city. There is a culture here that I've not experienced in over twenty years of being a journalist. A culture that those with a bit of "power" believe the can operate outside the law, at the very least bending it and often breaking it. This goes on from local police and sheriff's offices, all the way up to state level elected officials. I'm getting used to it now, but when I first arrived a few years ago it was eyeopening. I was shocked when I informed a local Sheriff that his policy of withholding incident locations was clearly a violation of North Carolina public records law. His response was what shocked me..."I don't care...I'm not going to have that information released." The top law enforcement agent in the county doesn't care that HE'S violating the law. I've seen reporters and photographers threatened with arrest for doing their jobs legally and within all ethical guidelines those in our line of work adhere. When I spoke to the Deputy Chief of the department in question, I was greeted with a statement I didn't expect. "We only release the information we matter what YOU PEOPLE think you should have..." Hey Deputy Chief moron, it's not what 'we people' think, it is what the frickin' law says. Maybe you should read it!