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Today's News

  • Access to courts and public court documents in North Carolina

    “Sunlight is said to be the best disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman,” former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis said 76 years ago.

    Brandeis’ words are just as powerful today as in 1933, and are backed by the U.S. and North Carolina constitutions.

    Article 1, Section 18, of the N.C. Constitution states, “All courts shall remain open.”

  • In due time--It's time for North Carolina to adopt a better policy

    “In due time.” Oak Island Town Attorney Brian Edes wrote in an e-mail to Colin Tarrant, the attorney representing Brian Keese in a public records lawsuit, that he or Oak Island Town Administrator Jerry Walters would respond to a request for public records “in due time.”

    A year and a half later, this matter remains unresolved. With a June 29 trial date set, the case could drag on for months.

    “In due time.”

  • Lawsuit filed against town claims public records weren't produced

    On July 1, 2008, Brian Keesee and his company Brian Keith Keesee Construction filed a lawsuit against the town of Oak Island, and town manager Jerry Walters and town clerk Pat Brunnell in their official capacities.

    Keesee alleges the defendants failed to produce public records related to OceanWalk Condominiums, a construction project his company was building.

  • Calabash: Is government filling the bill?

    The town of Calabash, incorporated in 1973, has a mayor-council/town administrator form of government consisting of Mayor Anthony Clemmons and five commissioners, each elected to four-year, staggered terms.

    Three seats, those of commissioners Cecelia Herman, Bill Dixon and Emily DiStasio, are up for re-election next November.

    The town administrator’s position is currently vacant after former administrator Vincent Long resigned abruptly on March 3, giving two days’ notice and stating it was for personal reasons.

  • Few kudos for Calabash UDO

    CALABASH—The Unified Development Ordinance has done little to unify Calabash.

    In fact, in recent weeks a draft of the proposed UDO, designed to bring more organization and uniformity to town land-use and zoning ordinances, has sparked divisiveness, with townspeople protesting at meetings and commissioners exchanging barbs.

    Local merchants claim proposed changes in the UDO impose too many rules that do not fit in with Calabash, such as not allowing roof signs, and too much government regulation.

  • One man’s fight for public records, open access

    On Sept. 17, 2007, Brian Keesee started fighting for what belonged to him and the people of Oak Island—access to public records.

    Keesee and his counsel, Colin Tarrant, sent a formal request to the Town of Oak Island to inspect and copy all public records including “notes, correspondence, interoffice and interdepartment memoranda and e-mails that the Town may have pertaining to Brian Keesee, BKK Construction and the SE 58th Street project.”

  • Schools expect $5.8 million shortfall in 09-10

    BOLIVIA—Brunswick County Schools is expecting a budget shortfall of nearly $5.8 million dollars for the 2009-2010 school year.

    A shortfall was to be expected, as the state was asked to prepare its public schools budget with 3, 5 and 7 percent reduction options last month, which could cost about 50 local employees their jobs.

    At the board of education’s budget retreat Tuesday, Superintendent Katie McGee said the preliminary budget for the 2009-2010 school year does not include details but should be looked at as a “thought process.”

  • Board of Education unable to provide requested e-mail documents

    The Brunswick County Board of Education is held to the same expectations as government agencies and must be able to furnish requested public records, including e-mails. But due to confusion among board members not all the board’s e-mails remain in existence—a violation of state public records law.

    N.C.G.S. 132-1 states public records include “all documents…regardless of physical form or characteristics.” Persons subject to this law includes “every public office, public officer or official (state or local, elected or appointed.”

  • The price of policing in paradise

    Ocean Isle Beach may be a sleepy beach town between September and May with a population of only 508 residents. But during the summer tourist season, the population can increase nearly five times, as up to 25,000 people invade the island per day.

    While this may be a boost for the local economy, it takes its toll on the town’s police department that operates with the same amount of officers year-round, only adding a handful of part-timers to patrol the beach during daylight hours.

  • Oak Island: How did they do?

    On March 12, the Beacon faxed a public records request for Oak Island’s written policy regarding document destruction and all records pertaining to the destruction of documents from Jan. 1, 2007 until present.

    Upon receiving the request, Jerry Walters, Oak Island town administrator, said the town would comply.

    On March 16, Joy Davis, Oak Island town clerk, e-mailed the public records to the Beacon. After sending the requests, Davis sent an e-mail to confirm the records were received.