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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Tax Increase Bond Referendum in Mecklenburg County

Citynewswatch editorial focus:

County Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour wrote a compelling editorial to the Charlotte Observer regarding the upcoming bond referendum when voters will get to choose whether or not we have a .25% tax increase billed primarily to pay for certain pay raises for teachers and other Charlotte Mecklenburg School expenses, Central Piedmont Community College, Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Libaries, the Arts & Science Council and Charlotte Chamber.  As Ridenhour points out, there's no guarantee the money would be used that way even with the vague plan offered now.  

The proposed tax itself has been poorly explained.  There is no good plan for how the money would be distributed.  No guarantee that the taxes, once established, would be used for only that purpose.  No good plan for how to decide which teachers are deserving of what amount of money.  Ridenhour explains that none of the groups who would benefit from the tax were consulted in forming a plan.

This is another example of poor leadership, poor planning, and pandering to "for the children, because our teachers deserve it" in an effort to slap us all with more taxes.  It's another failure of local and state government.  

Yes, our children deserve a better education than the average they are receiving now.  Yes, there are many wonderful teachers who are long overdue for a raise.  We are losing good teachers and failing to attract good teachers because of low pay.  That's not an excuse to hike taxes again, drive business base and jobs into other areas and lower the available money and talent to sustain the education funds we have. 

The education and political leaders need to do what business and home owners do when revenue does not meet spending:  decrease spending and increase your efficiency.  Drive costs down.  Look at improvements within budgets.  Find ways to attract more revenue.  Most businesses don't have the luxury of simply pricing themselves higher, or they price themselves completely out of the market. Voters need to pay attention and require better planning and accountability. 

Ridenhour states "Some have also said that if we do not raise taxes now, we will never have this opportunity to do so again."  Citynewswatch editorial board suggests that raising taxes should not always be the proposed solution for every struggle that arises in governing.  In fact, raising taxes often makes the burden higher, leading to fewer jobs, less business, personal & property tax available, higher crime, and a cascade of problems to deal with.  We can't tax and spend our way out of effective leadership.  


Here is Commissioner Ridenhour's editorial from the Charlotte Observer in it's entirety (emphasis added):



Should voters support sales tax hike? NO


NO: It’s poorly planned and unsustainable in long run

By Matthew Ridenhour
Special to the Observer

Unfortunately, a plan devoid of vision and thoughtful consideration is exactly what is being presented to voters.

A good community plan would have the input of the full Board of County Commissioners, CMS, CPCC, the ASC, the Library, the Charlotte Chamber, the General Assembly, the city and towns and other community stakeholders. Not one of those groups was consulted before commissioners voted 5-4 to place the referendum on the ballot.

A good fiscal plan would ensure a reliable funding source for teacher salaries. Sales tax is more volatile than property taxes. We are not so far removed from the Great Recession that we have forgotten the impact it had on consumer spending. We will have another recession. Is it fiscally prudent to promise $28 million a year to teachers when a slowdown in the economy will mean we cannot fulfill those promises?

A good plan would not raise the sales tax, which is regressive. Regressive taxes disproportionately hurt the poor and middle class. When legislators ushered in tax reform, they expanded the tax base by taxing goods and services not previously taxed. People criticized that, saying the regressive nature of the sales tax would hurt the poor and middle class. If that criticism was true then, then it is true now.

A good strategic plan would be sustainable, with a clear understanding of the long-term effects on the community. Increasing the sales tax is a one-time means to address teacher pay. What happens in two or three years when teacher pay is an issue again? The sales tax will no longer be an option – we will already have exhausted it. We will be right back where we are right now. There has been no analysis on the impact to businesses and consumer purchasing habits. Will businesses source supplies outside of Mecklenburg? Will this drive consumers to make larger purchases outside of the county? We do not know, because there has been no independent study.

The right plan would address these concerns, but would also ensure the funds go to the stated organizations. This plan cannot do that. By law, this sales tax revenue cannot be restricted to a specific obligation. All it takes is a majority vote of the county commissioners and the funds would go to other areas. To those who think this could never happen, look no further than to Social Security, the Highway Trust Fund, or the N.C. Education Lottery.

It is understandable that the organizations which would benefit from the sales tax have spoken out in favor of it. I do not think that this is the right tool for the job, though. The right tool is one which is fiscally responsible, sustainable and has broad community support. The right plan is to increase teacher supplements through our property tax revenue. We want to recruit and retain the best teachers out there – on that we all agree – and I believe we can do that. We will do that. It takes the right plan – not the one being presented to voters next month.

Matthew Ridenhour is a Republican Mecklenburg County commissioner.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/10/11/5233799/should-voters-support-sales-tax.html#.VDrTWfldXJF#storylink=cpy

Friday, July 25, 2014

24 Hours of Booty Bicycle Fundraiser starts TONIGHT




Please excuse the lateness of this announcement, but check to see how you can participate in this excellent cancer-fighting charity in Charlotte's 24 Hours of Booty bicycle fundraiser starting at 7 p.m. this evening and continuing for 24 non-stop hours.  As they say, "Ride, Cheer, Volunteer!"


Quoted from www.24hoursofbooty.org :


Join us for the Charlotte event: 
July 25-26, 2014 7 p.m. - 7 p.m. 
Charlotte's Myers Park neighborhood is home to the original Booty Loop. In partnership with presenting sponsor, Levine Cancer Institute, 24 Hours of Booty Charlotte will celebrate its thirteenth year and host 1,200 riders who will raise more than $1.2 million for cancer research and survivorship. 
The Booty Loop is in the beautiful Myers Park neighborhood. At the center of it all is Bootyville, our own little city, which also serves as the event headquarters over the 24 hours at Myers Park Traditional School.  


CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION 
and ways to donate/volunteer/ride

Awesome effort by everyone involved for a great cause!
Good Luck!



Also check out this article in the Charlotte Observer with personal stories of how our neighbors have been affected by cancer and by this wonderful event.


Monday, May 26, 2014

Too Many for Too Long

image from www.waterworld.us

From the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier:

HERE RESTS IN HONORED GLORY 
AN AMERICAN SOLDIER 
KNOWN BUT TO GOD


Today and every day, please remember those who gave everything so we can have our freedom.  Remember those who sacrificed and their families.  Give any way you are able to them and to those who are serving now and veterans struggling to come fully home.



Friday, May 16, 2014

Have a Clean House, Help Charities

Clean out your house, and take the quality, usable pieces you don't need anymore to local Goodwill and Habitat Restores listed below.  Bring your clean, gently used furniture, computers, clothing, dishes, and other items to donate this Saturday.  You will feel good in your clean home and help others.

Event details at www.metrolinarestores.org
Super Spring Sweep will take donations from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at a number of local donation sites:

• Habitat for Humanity of Gaston County ReStore, 1840 E. Franklin Blvd., Gastonia.
• Habitat for Humanity of York County ReStore, 825 N. Anderson Road, Rock Hill, S.C.
• Charlotte Habitat for Humanity ReStore, 1133 N. Wendover Road, Charlotte.
• Our Towns Habitat for Humanity Restore, 20414 N. Main St., Cornelius.
• Our Towns Habitat for Humanity Restore, 121 Norman Station Blvd., Mooresville.
• Habitat for Humanity of Cabarrus County ReStore, 2902 S. Cannon Blvd. Kannapolis.
• Habitat for Humanity of Iredell County ReStore, 1382 Shelton Ave., Statesville.
• Habitat for Humanity of Catawba County ReStore, 772 Fourth St. SW, Hickory.
• Habitat for Humanity of Lincoln County ReStore, 809 E. Sycamore St. Lincolnton.

 See a longer article with details also at CharolotteObserver.com

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/05/14/4910109/super-spring-sweep-donation-drive.html#storylink=cpy

Sunday, April 6, 2014

QUESTIONS ABOUT CANNON NOT NEW



Stuart Watson, investigative reporter from WCNC in Charlotte, has asked many of the right questions over the years to uncover some of the corruption in Charlotte local government.  Evidence has been in the public for years, but scant media coverage (apologies to Stuart Watson) and complete denial by current and past administrations has allowed corruption to fester.  This story is worth viewing if you haven't already seen it:




Judge Tyawdi Hands, Patrick Cannon and Trenna Cannon
Photo Credit:  Nancy Pierce, Charlotte BizJournals


See District Judge Tyawdi Hands (pictured on left) swearing Cannon (center) in as Mayor of Charlotte for his very short-lived time in office before arrest on Federal Charges.  

The Charlotte Observer did write an editorial about "problems" with Cannon's firm, E-Z Parking, not paying fair taxes.  They wrote it after the election.

Then there's the issue that Cannon faced tax liens of $193,000 with the Internal Revenue Service and "side-stepped" that information to voters. 

THIS  April 6, 2014 Charlotte Observer Article includes the following information about Cannon's history and refers to the recent affidavit for his federal charges:

The federal affidavit that outlines the bribery charges against Cannon also portrays him as a man untroubled with telling a lie.

The affidavit says an undercover agent pretending to be a business developer met with Cannon last June and Cannon agreed to lie to foreign investors on a trip to Las Vegas.

Cannon came up with an elaborate ruse, the affidavit alleged: He would claim he knew the undercover agents for years and had used his official position to help overcome challenges with city permits and zoning.

“Well, if it’s made up, I mean then it really wouldn’t matter,” Cannon is quoted as saying.
Questions about Cannon’s truthfulness came up as far back as 1999, during his first campaign for City Council.

In answers on an Observer questionnaire, Cannon wrote that he had never been charged with a crime. In fact, he was convicted in 1988 of failing to support an out-of-wedlock daughter. At the time, Cannon said he was so young he didn’t realize it was a criminal conviction, and didn’t know he owed child support.

During the campaign, he also listed his home as his mother’s house in the Pine Valley neighborhood. But neighbors said he didn’t live there and questioned whether he was eligible to represent the district. His license and voter registration listed the house, and nothing ever came of the complaints.

In 2005, Cannon withdrew from public life saying he needed more time with his family. In 2009, he decided to run for council again. Then the Observer discovered a series of IRS liens involving his parking company that totaled $193,553 between 2003 and 2008.

Even when the Observer questioned him, he wasn’t clear he had lied: “It’s unfortunate that people were misled about the truth rather than the facts during that particular time. But it was what it was, and we’ve moved on.”

That retreat from politics in 2005 also was one of the strangest moments in Cannon’s career.

Democrats thought Cannon was their best chance in years of unseating Pat McCrory. Then three months into the campaign, Cannon abruptly quit the race and also said he wouldn’t seek re-election to City Council.

He cited the deaths of an aunt and his wife’s grandmother, saying he wanted to focus on his family.

But was that the full truth? A salacious rumor had circulated for months about Cannon’s personal life.

In a farewell speech in December, Cannon acknowledged the gossip:

“I want to thank my family for their sacrifice that they’ve made, being both victims and praised for the 12 years I’ve been in office. My wife, especially, for enduring, oh in some cases, good times, but in some cases, bad times, particularly from one that dealt with the spread of vicious rumors that weren’t true, to assassinate my character on a matter that in my family’s mind as well as my own, is an abomination unto God, that also sent a few media outlets into wild-goose chases.”

He told the Observer the rumor was “an absolute lie.”

“If you do believe he had this pattern of dishonesty, which I do, after you get by with it for so long you just feel immune,” said a high-ranking city figure who worked with Cannon for more than 20 years.




Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2014/03/29/4804057/former-charlotte-mayor-patrick.html#.U0Dxd_ldWbE#storylink=cpy


The press is supposed to be part of keeping our officials honest.  But how many people even heard the allegations of dishonesty and tax fraud before Cannon was elected?  There was barely a mention in local news.

Before the FBI finishes, there are likely to be more locals sweating out investigations.  For the good of our City, let's hope they don't stop short.




Tuesday, April 1, 2014

After Mayor Patrick Cannon Arrested, Charlotte City Council Defers Choice

Charlotte City Council met tonight and voted to pass a motion postponing choice of a new Mayor of Charlotte until next Monday, April 7th.  Several members expressed that they wanted a little more time to hear from constituents, even though voters will not be given a direct voice.  Behind the scenes, it doesn't seem there is consensus supporting one candidate.

Some citizens have come forward asking for a new election in November, but that would require legislative intervention from State representatives, and many local elected officials balked at the notion of requesting assistance from Raleigh.  

Mayor Patrick Cannon has been arrested and charged last week on federal corruption charges, including violations of the Hobbs Extortion Act, using his office, Theft or Bribery, and Wire Fraud.  




The Complaint clearly states that the FBI undercover investigation began with another City of Charlotte employee, which then led to Cannon.  Cannon is quoted (in the Complaint) referencing a City employee that would be very helpful to the undercover agents:

(The) “city manager’s made (him/her) part of his executive team. (He/she) could be a city manager but (he/she) doesn’t want to. (He/she) wants to continue to do planning and all that kind of stuff.” 

The Complaint states after Cannon was given free use of a $2,100 per month apartment with special entry/exit, Cannon gave the name of a City Department Head to the undercover agent, explaining how helpful that person would be to the fake investors used in the FBI sting operation.

From Charmeck.org, the Manager's staff is listed:


City leadership bios
City Manager Ron Carlee
Deputy City Manager Ron Kimble
Assistant City Manager Eric Campbell
Assistant City Manager Hyong Yi
Executive Team Member Debra Campbell
Chief of Staff Carol L. Jennings

Sentences if Cannon is convicted on charges:
Maximum 10 years in prison & $250,000 fine for THEFT and BRIBERY
Maximum 20 years in prison & $1,000,000 fine for FRAUD
Maximum 20 years in prison & $250,000 fine for EXTORTION


If convicted, there should be a hefty sentence to demonstrate that "leaders" are not above the law.  Cannon's wife is implicated in the affidavit, but she has not been arrested.  Pity and sadness should be for the Cannons' children.   

More arrests for corruption in Charlotte may be on the way.  Probably a number of locals are very nervous.  Remember that the $48,000 and other gifts allegedly accepted by Cannon are only the items documented in the undercover sting after other allegations surfaced.  There may be more.  And there may be other people who are finally caught.  Now that the FBI has finally gotten an investigation underway, why not clean house?  


Monday, March 10, 2014

VOCATIONAL TRAINING IN A CHARLOTTE PUBLIC CHARTER HIGH SCHOOL

This program sounds like it may be a good alternative for some young men and women in Charlotte who will not complete conventional high school programs and are interested in vocational training indicated in these flyers, though the name of the school includes the term "entrepreneurs."  There may be benefits to focusing on preparation for a different route than direct to full-time college, and here is some information about a meeting March 15th to discuss one such proposal from the program director:


Please spread the word about the Entrepreneur High School Information Day 
March 15th (11 am - 2 pm)  


Did you know that 82% of area high school students don’t complete a college degree in four to six years?  

What happens to them?
Underemployment? Unemployment? Welfare? Prison?

Our new charter high school (EHS) prepares students for a job and/or equips them with the tools to start their own business by integrating advanced vocational training and relevant world-class education!!

Please go to their website for more information- www.GoEHS.org, and then...

Attend the Information Day on Saturday, March 15th from 11 am to 2 pm.  (See the flyer below.) This event will take place at 5431 Hickory Grove Road. We will give a presentation on the school at 11:30 am, 12:30 am and 1:30 pm.

This event will afford you an opportunity to ask questions, engage with board members and get a sense of the corporate support garnered thus far.

Open Enrollment for August 2014 is underway, and they are in the process of interviewing applicants. Interested students/parents can start the process by applying online at www.GoEHS.org.


(Information from Robert Hillman, Board Chairman of the Entrepreneur High School)
Robert.Hillman@EntrepreneurHighSchool.org    704.232.2096 – cell





Wednesday, January 22, 2014

CRB Reform Passed by City Council

Charlotte's City Council passed some of the proposed changes to the Citizens Review Board code by a vote November 25, 2013.  It contains significant changes, though not all the recommendations of either the Charlotte School of Law or of citizens seeking reform, including a coalition of groups called CRB REFORM NOW.

The changes require the police department to deliver the entire Internal Affairs file of the contested charges to the CRB.  Before, only a summary of information chosen by the police department was released to the Board.

The changes allow the CRB to ask for additional evidence.

The big request for subpoena power has not been met.



See the changes here (deletions from original shown in strikeout text, additions are underlined):


ORDINANCE NUMBER: 5259 AMENDING CHAPTER 16

AN ORDINANCE AMENDING CHAPTER 16 OF THE CHARLOTTE CITY CODE 
ENTITLED “POLICE” 

BE IT ORDAINED by the City Council of the City of Charlotte, North Carolina, that:

Section 1. Article II, Division 2 of Chapter 16 of the Charlotte City Code is amended as
follows:
DIVISION 2. - CITIZENS REVIEW BOARD
Sec. 16-56. - Creation; composition; terms; compensation; appointments; vacancies; quorum; removal.
Sec. 16-57. - Meetings.
Sec. 16-58. - Duties and responsibilities.
Sec. 16-59. - Appeal procedureRequest for appeal hearing.
Sec. 16-60. - Necessity for hearingHearing.
Sec. 16-61. - Hearing proceduresReserved.
Sec. 16-62. - Action by chief of police and city manager.
Sec. 16-63. - City clerk's duties; meeting places; staff.
Sec. 16-64. - ReportsMiscellaneous.

Sec. 16-56. - Creation; composition; terms; compensation; appointments; vacancies; 
quorum; removal. 
(a) There is hereby established a citizens review board to be composed of 11 members: five members
to be appointed by the city council, three members to be appointed by the mayor and three to be
appointed by the city manager. The appointing authorities shall ensure that the members of the
board are representative of the community.
(b) Members must be continually domiciled within the county and must be registered to vote within the
county.
(c) Board members shall attend and successfully complete the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police
Department's Citizens' Academy and receive training on relevant legal and, policy and cultural 
awareness issues as required by the city manager. This training must be completed prior to any
board appointee serving as a member of the board.
(d) Individuals with a felony conviction or a class A1 misdemeanor conviction shall not be eligible to
serve on the board. In addition, individuals with a class 1 or class 2 misdemeanor conviction within
three years of their nomination for appointment shall be ineligible to serve. Further, conviction of or a plea of nolo contendere to a felony, a class A1 misdemeanor, a class 1 misdemeanor, or a class 2
misdemeanor during the term of office shall automatically terminate membership on the board,
irrespective of any appeals. Board members charged with a felony, a class A1 misdemeanor, a class
1 misdemeanor, or a class 2 misdemeanor during a term of office shall be automatically suspended
until disposition of the charge, and a quorum shall be established from the remaining membership.
(e) Prior to serving, each board member must sign a confidentiality agreement that is satisfactory to the city and which shall require that members maintain as confidential any information classified as
confidential by state law or otherwise classified as confidential by the city.
(f) The members shall serve staggered terms of office for three years, with no member serving more
than two consecutive terms.
(g) The board shall elect a chairperson and vice-chairperson from the membership.
(h) When a vacancy occurs, the original appointing authority shall appoint a person to serve for the
unexpired term of the vacant position.
(i) Six members shall constitute a quorum in order to hold business meetings and hearings. Members
are required to attend all business meetings and hearings in accordance with the attendance policies
promulgated by the city council. Vacancies resulting from a member's failure to attend the required
number of meetings shall be filled as provided in this section.
(j) All members shall serve without compensation.
(k) Members of the board shall be subject to removal from office by a two-thirds vote of the city council.

Sec. 16-57. - Meetings. 
(a) The citizens review board shall hold regular meetings as scheduled by resolution of the board. The
affirmative vote of a majority, a quorum being present, shall be required before any recommendation
is made on any matter considered. A majority vote shall be required for any decision made by the
board.
(b) Special meetings may be called by the chairperson to carry out any duties described in section 16-58 by giving each member notice in writing, by providing personal notice, or by leaving notice at the
member's residence not less than 72 hours prior to the time set for the meeting.
Sec. 16-58. - Duties and responsibilities.
(a) The citizens review board shall:
(1) Serve as an advisory board to the chief of police, the city manager, and the city council.
(2) ReviewHear appeals by the citizens who filed complaints of disciplinary dispositions imposed by
the chief of police or his designee relating to allegations of misconduct against a sworn police
officer. The board may hear appeals of complaints regarding alleged violations of the following
rules: use of force, unbecoming conduct, and arrest, search and seizure. In addition, the
disposition of the review of any discharge of a firearm by an officer which results in the death or
injury of a person may be appealed to this board by the person injured or the next of kin if death
occurs. When a death results and there is no next of kin, any member of the city council or the
chairperson of the community relations committee may file an appeal pursuant to section 16-59.
The disciplinary actions that may be reviewed shall include the findings of the chief of police that
an allegation has been categorized as: sustained, not sustained, exonerated, or unfounded. The
dispositions that may be reviewed for the discharge of firearms shall include: justified, not
justified, or accidental. The board may review only appeals of citizen complaints arising from
incidents that occur after the effective date of the ordinance from which this section derives. The
board may not review appeals of decisions of the city manager or the civil service board. No 
hearing conducted under this division is intended to supplant civil or criminal remedies or 
proceedings, nor civil service proceedings under section 4.61 of the city charter. 
(3) Determine whether to hold an appeal hearing. The board may hold an appeal hearing only 
when it appears, based upon a preponderance of the evidence, that the disposition of the 
disciplinary charges entered by the chief of police constituted an abuse of, in its discretion by 
the chief of police.
(4) Conduct appeal hearings, which include receiving and evaluating testimony and issuing findings 
of fact and, also may make recommendations to the chief of police and the city manager. The 
duty and power of the board is to conduct an appeal hearing and to determine whether, by a 
preponderance of the evidence, the chief of police abused his discretion by: 
a. Finding in a disciplinary action that allegations were sustained, not sustained, exonerated 
concerning policies, procedures or unfounded; ortraining of police officers.
b. Finding in connection with the discharge of a firearm that the officer's action was justified, 
not justified, or accidental. 
(5(4) As required by state law, maintain as confidential all personnel information to which the
members gain access as a member of the board. In addition, board members shall be required
to execute and adhere to a confidentiality agreement that is satisfactory to the city.
(b) The citizens review board shall promulgate rules and regulations to effect its exercise of authority
under this division and shall keep such rules and regulations on file with the city clerk.

Sec. 16-59. - Appeal procedure Request for appeal hearing. 
(a) Under this division, all complaints will be investigated by the police department. Upon completion of an investigation, the chief of police shall, consistent with state law, notify the complainant by certified letter of the disposition of the complaint. The complainant also shall be informed of his right to appeal the decision of the department to the citizens review board.
(b) All appeals to the citizens review board must be made on a form approved by the board and filed in writing with the city clerk's office. The request must state the reason for the appeal and the nature of the incident and the basis on which the complainant contends that the action taken by the chief of 
police was in error. The citizen may seek the assistance of the community relations committee in
drafting and filing his appeal. The citizen must file this appeal within seventhirty (30) calendar days of receiving written notice of the disposition of the complaint. The citizen must provide a valid current address for the purpose of all notifications required to be made pursuant to this division.
(c) Upon receiving a request for an appeal hearing, the chairperson of the board shall direct the chief of police to prepare a summary ofdeliver the entire internal affairs case and forward the summaryfile to the chairperson city clerk for delivery to the members of the citizens review board. A meeting of the board will be held to discuss theThe chairperson may request for appeal. additional information from the complainant if deemed necessary. 


Sec. 16-60. - Necessity for hearing. 
(a) (d) The board may elect not to hear an appeal under this division if civil, criminal or civil service 
proceedings are instituted and pending. 

Sec. 16-60. Hearing. 
(a) Upon receiving a request for an appeals hearing, a meeting of the board will be held shall hold a 
hearing within 30forty-five (45) calendar days of the request. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the board may elect not to hear an appeal under this division if civil, criminal or civil service proceedings are instituted and pending. 
(b) (b) In The hearing shall be conducted in closed session to ensure compliance with all applicable 
laws, including those related to the confidentiality of criminal information or intelligence and personnel matters. The parties may be represented at the hearing by counsel or any other person of their choice. 
(c) The hearing will begin with the complainant and the department respectively, each in the absence of the other and the other’s representatives, presenting statements of facts to the board. Following 
receipt of the statements of facts, the board may, in its discretion, request additional statements, 
material, or information from the complainant and/or the department. After receiving the parties’ 
statements and any additional material or information provided, the board shall conduct deliberations 
in the absence of the complainant and the department. 
(d) Following the deliberations contemplated in subsection (c), in a public session, and consistent with section 16-58(a)(4), the chairperson shall indicate whether the board has decided to hold a hearing 
conduct additional evidentiary fact-finding and, if so, shall announce the date, time and place of the
hearing.proceedings. In order to conduct additional evidentiary fact-finding, the board must 
determine that there is substantial evidence of error regarding the disposition of the disciplinary 
charges entered by the chief of police. The chairperson shall notify the complainant and other
involved parties in writing of the decision and, if a hearing isevidentiary fact-finding proceedings are 
to be held, also shall advise all parties in writing of the reasons for the decision to hold a
hearingevidentiary fact-finding proceedings. 

(eSec. 16-61. - Hearing procedures. 
(a) If the citizens review board decides to conduct a hearing, itevidentiary fact-finding proceedings, 
those proceedings shall be concluded within 30forty-five (45) calendar days of the date of the
decision to hold an appeal hearing.them pursuant to section 16-60. Should the complainant or the
department desire a hearingto continue the evidentiary fact-finding proceedings to a date other than
that set by the board, the complainant or the department shall submit a written request for a change
of the hearing date of the proceedings, stating the reason for the request. The chairperson shall
approve or disapprove such request, provided that such request is received by the board at least
seven calendar days prior to the date ofset for the hearing. evidentiary fact-finding proceedings. For
good cause, the chairperson may continue the hearingproceedings from time to time, but all appeals
must be concluded within 30sixty (60) calendar days from the date of the decision to hold an appeal 
hearing. The hearing shall be conducted in a closed session, with at least six members of the board 
presentevidentiary fact-finding proceeding. 
(b)f) Evidentiary fact-finding proceedings shall be conducted as follows: 
(1) All witnesses must testify under oath.
(c2) All of the proceedings before the board shall be recorded.
(d3) All parties involved shall have the right to be represented by counsel or any other person
of their choice.
(e) 4) The board shall receive and evaluate evidence which may include testimony of the 
complainant, officers, and other witnesses, and documentary and physical evidence. The
complainant shall offer evidence first in support of his appeal. The department and officer shall
have the right to cross examine the complainant and his witnesses. Thereafter, the department
and officer shall have the right to offer evidence, and the complainant shall have the right to cross
examine the department's and officer's witnesses. At the conclusion of all the evidence, the
complainant or his representative, followed by the department and officer, may make a closing
statement.
(f5) Members of the board may question witnesses or request additional information or further
investigation at any point in the process.
(g6) Members who, in a particular case, have a conflict of interest shall not attend or
participate in the hearingproceedings and decision-making process.
(h) Within ten calendar days after(g) At the conclusion of the hearingevidentiary fact-finding 
proceedings, the board shall issue its written findingsdetermine whether, by the greater weight of 
fact tothe evidence, the chief of police and the city manager alongclearly erred by:
(1) Finding in a disciplinary action that allegations were sustained, not sustained, exonerated or 

unfounded; or

(2) Finding in connection with a recommendation. The findingsthe discharge of fact must a firearm 
that the officer's action was justified, not justified, or accidental. 
(h) Upon conclusion of the appeal process, the complainant shall be supported by a preponderance of 
the evidence and approved by a majoritynotified in writing of the decision of the board who were 
present at the hearing. 
and, to the extent permitted by applicable law, the reasons for the decision. 

Sec. 16-61. Reserved. 

Sec. 16-62. - Action by chief of police and city manager.
(a) The chief of police shall review the determination and findings of fact of the citizens review board and any other information at his disposal. The chief of police shall take such action as he deems
appropriate, consistent with state law and city policy. The chief of police will then, within seven
calendar days of the receipt of the board's recommendations, report his decision to the city manager.
(b) The city manager shall review the decision of the chief of police and, within seven calendar days of the receipt of the decision of the chief of police, take such action as he deems appropriate,
consistent with state law, and shall advise the chief of police of any intended action.
(c) The city manager shall notify all parties, including the citizens review board, of the decision of the city manager consistent with state law and city policy. The city manager also shall advise the city council of the outcome of the appeal. Notifications made under this subsection must be made within seven calendar days of the date that the decision of the city manager was initially communicated to the
chief of police.

Sec. 16-63. - City clerk's duties; meeting places; staff. 
(a) Under this division the city clerk shall:
(1) Act as secretary to the citizens review board;
(2) Keep the minutes of its meetings;
(3) Be custodian of all papers and records pertaining to the business of the board; and
(4) Perform such other duties as the board may require.
(b) The city council shall provide sufficient and reasonable rooms and use of public buildings for
meetings and hearings of the board as may be necessary.
(c) The city manager shall assign staff to support the functions of the citizens review board.

Sec. 16-64. - Reports Miscellaneous. 
(a) The citizens review board shall make a semiannual and an annual report of its actions for each
preceding year. These reports shall be kept in the files of the board and a copy delivered to the chief
of police, city manager, city council and the community relations committee.
(b) The board shall receive annually a report from the police chief concerning all complaints against 
department personnel and the disposition of such complaints. 
(c) The board shall recommend changes to the citizens review process to city council as deemed 

appropriate and approved by a majority of the board. 
(d) The board shall promote its visibility within the community by adopting procedures to educate citizens about the board process, and enhance citizen participation through process and procedural changes as deemed appropriate. 
(e) The board shall conduct legal, policy and cultural awareness training for its members, in addition to that provided pursuant to section 16-56(c), on a continuing basis as deemed appropriate. 

Section 2. This ordinance is effective immediately and shall apply to all appeals to the Citizens
Review Board filed after the effective date.

Approved as to form: _____________________ (signed by Carolyn D. Johnson)

 City Attorney

Sunday, November 10, 2013

CRB (Citizens Review Board) Reform on City Council Agenda



CRB (Citizens Review Board) Reform will be the subject of a Charlotte City Council discussion Monday, Nov. 11, 2013 at the regular meeting.  Prior to that, City Manager Ron Carlee at 5 p.m. in room 267 of the Government Center, open to the public.

Citizens are encouraged to attend this presentation and demonstrate your desire for a fair process and better police/citizen relations.  Even if all requested changes pass, there will be need for additional reform.  To date, much of the information presented by the CRB has been deemed useless, and much has been incorrect.  


Citizens brought up some relevant points at the October 28thCouncil Meeting

Corinne Mack asked: 1) Who appoints members? 2) What is the criteria to be on board? and 3) Does the Board membership reflect membership of the City and County?
She likened a weak reform to a guard dog with no bite and called for including access to the IA files, and presenting Officers to the board.

Dick Hester, President of the Charlotte Chapter of the ACLU spoke on behalf of himself and the ACLU Board.  He acknowledged that police have a difficult and dangerous task, working under stressful and dangerous conditions.  He called for the CRB raising the level of trust between police and citizens.  He also called for CRB to be an INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATIVE board, allowing fairness dealing with grievances. 

Rodney Sadler expressed concerns about the proposed changes: 1) They appear very modest and even if they get through Council, would there even be real change?  2) He wants the CRB to have influence over the internal police policy changes, and for that influence/those changes be binding, 3) that the CRB include members who are “most often victims” of police misconduct, and 4) that CRB receive full un-redacted, unedited versions of the IA files in order to have actual oversight.

Sadler asked for actual power to adjudicate, not just appellate power.


If you watch the video, at just before 24 minutes in, Councilman John Autry asked City Attorney Hagemann: “Does the Citizen’s Review Board not see the Internal Affairs file?” 
City Attorney Robert Hagemann answered, “Yes, it does.”
Autry replied, “It does (repeating Hagemann’s answer)?  Already?”

Hagemann said, “Yes. That will be more explicit in the recommendations I will be making to you.”  (Is that what you say to cover that your “yes” answer is false?)
Autry continued: “So, is there some difference between the Internal Affairs file and the Case File?”
Hagemann said, “I think there’s a misunderstanding.”

Kinsey then moved the meeting forward, avoiding clarification of “the misunderstanding.” This “misunderstanding” is that Hagemann’s direct answer to Autry’s direct question was not true.
Outgoing Council Member Warren Cooksey interjected about updates that had come to the Council Manager Relations Committee he is on which has dealt with the Reform Proposals, then said “… We did meet.  We approved recommendations to council today.  What you should be expecting to see on your future schedules is a dinner briefing on November 11th and a request for Council action on November 25th.”
 
That didn’t answer the question, either.  Cooksey and Hagemann know the fact that the full IA file is NOT provided to the CRB.  For the City Attorney to seemingly misrepresent the facts about the law or legal process to the public, and for Mayor Kinsey, Cooksey, and others on the committee to encourage and allow this, is wrong.

Various City of Charlotte staff and Council/Mayor committee members have also tried to state that making changes to the CRB would require action from the State Legislature.  This does not appear to be true since the CRB is formed by City Ordinance (Ordinance Book 48, page 104, has Ordinance849 establishing the entire functioning of the CRB) .  City Council has the full power to change City Ordinance.  True, there is a state statute which addresses only the personnel records involved in the Board decisions.  There is no need for legislative action to cause a 2-year delay in action. 

The original establishment of CRB, in Ordinance 849, begins:
ORDINANCE NO. 849
AN ORDINANCE AMENDING CHAPTER 16 OF THE CODE
OF THE CITY OF CHARLOTTE BY THE ADDITION OF A
NEW ORDINANCE CREATING A CITIZENS REMEW BOARD.
WHEREAS, City Council finds that the citizens of the City of Charlotte
have an interest in ensuring the thoroughness and fairness of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department disciplinary process; and
WHEREAS, City Council finds that the City has broad authority to adopt
such an ordinance and that a Citizens Review Board Ordinance is consistent with the broad authority that the City has to execute the powers, duties, and privileges conferred upon it by Chapter 160A of the North Carolina General Statutes and confirmed by the Supreme Court of North Carolina in Homebuilders Association of Charlotte v. City of Charlotte, 336 NC 37 (1994); and
WHEREAS, City Council finds that under the authority of N.C.G.S. 160A- 168(c)(7), the City Manager may, with the concurrence of City Council, release information concerning the employment or nonemployment, promotion, demotion, suspension or other disciplinary action, reinstatement, transfer, or termination of a city employee and the reasons for that personnel action provided that before releasing the information, the City Manager or Council shall determine in writing that the release is essential to maintaining public confidence in the administration of city services or to maintaining the level and quality of city services;

Note the reference to N.C.G.S. 160A- 168(c)(7) which does not only apply to CRB issues.

Another misleading item from the CRB Committee’s last presentation to the Council-Manager Relations committee—and to the public—was the statement the CRB would “Promote the availability of advocates who would assist citizens through the Internal Affairs investigative process and the CRB appeal process, including legal representation, if requested, from organizations such as the Mecklenburg County Bar Volunteer Lawyer Program” which was placed in an article from the October 27th Charlotte Observer article “Committee to vote on Citizens Review Board.”   
  
In reality, there’s currently no such Volunteer Lawyer Program in existence, and it was never available for direct citizen help.  While it would be nice, putting out such misinformation as another pipe dream concerning citizens’ rights in this situation is irresponsible at best.  Citizens should have guaranteed access to legal counsel, provided by the City, in order to be a fair process. 
CRB Board Members are not required to have any legal background or assured understanding of the law.  Even if they did, they should act as fair and impartial so the police officers would also receive fair hearings.  Police have taxpayer-funded free legal help from the City Attorneys, and from outside counsel hired at the discretion of city staff when they feel it’s necessary.  Citizens should have no less. 


When speaker Henry Gunn brought the topic back to CRB, he asked for “transparency and fairness for everybody, including the police officer and the citizen.”  He stated that he had been advocating for the open release of the Internal Affairs files—which is not currently happening—to the CRB Board.  See the detailed explanation contained within a proposed letter CRB Reform Now has supplied to send to council members, shown below.

Another big issue not covered by speakers on October 28th is why Charlotte’s CRB standard of review is excessively high, having produced NOT ONE RULING IN FAVOR OF A CITIZEN in its existence. 

Various City of Charlotte officials have tried to propagate the myth that it’s a very low standard, based on “preponderance of discretion” wording within the review.  However, that’s not the difficult part:  it’s the rest of the standard which is ridiculously high, “that the Chief of Police is guilty of an ABUSE OF DISCRETION.”  This standard is means a finding not based on the facts of the case, nor even error on the part of the Chief, but that he must have distinctly abused his discretion—that no reasonable chief would ever be able to come to the conclusion exonerating or failing to find any wrongdoing on the part of the officer—in order to move forward.  That fact, combined with the truth that the CRB may only ask for IA files, and have stated they are not allowed to see the whole investigative file, make the current Board completely ineffectual.

See the CRB Reform Now site excellent explanation of the standard of review: 

No other review board has a standard as high as Charlotte’s Citizens Review Board.  Our Board must ask: “whether, by a preponderance of the evidence, the chief of police abused his discretion.”  This “abuse of discretion” language forces the Board to go well beyond a simple “preponderance of the evidence” inquiry and requires them to practically accuse the Chief of Police of misconduct before finding in favor of a citizen.  Our Board’s “abuse of discretion” standard of review is unprecedented in any other similarly situated review board ordinance across the country. In fact, no other city, within the top 20 most populous cities in the United States, has a review board ordinance even containing the term "abuse of discretion.”

See the coalition group’s call to action posted here www.CRBreform.com :

Contact your Representatives
by E-mail and Mail as instructed below




Patsy Kinsey- pkinsey@charlottenc.gov
Patrick Cannon- mayorprotemcannon@gmail.com
David Howard- info@davidhowardclt.com
Claire Fallon- cfallon@charlottenc.gov
Beth Pickering- bpickering@charlottenc.gov
LaWana Mayfield- lmayfield@charlottenc.gov
Michael Barnes- barnesdistrict4@aol.com
Billy Maddalon- bmaddalon@charlottenc.gov
James Mitchell- jamesdistrict2@aol.com
John Autry- jautry@charlottenc.gov
Andy Dulin- adulin1@carolina.rr.com
Warren Cooksey- warren@warrencooksey.com


Dear Council Person:

Please ensure that any new Citizens Review Board law require that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department give the Citizens Review Board a copy of the applicable internal affairs file, in its entirety, at the very beginning of each new case the CRB reviews.  I have been following the progress of the Citizens Review Board issue and feel that this is the only way to currently guarantee that the CRB has all the facts before making a decision.

I understand that the Citizens Review Board presently has “access” to the internal affairs file and may therefore obtain internal affairs information upon request.  However, I believe that this is not enough.  Only allowing “access” perpetuates the risks that:

1)     The Citizens Review Board will not request relevant information because it is unaware of the information’s existence;
2)   Confusion will occur due to imperfect or misunderstood requests;
3)   The Citizens Review Board will run out of time to make a decision before obtaining relevant information;
4)   Internal affairs file information will not be distributed uniformly among different administrations of City Officials and Councils; and
5)   The Citizens Review Board will not have all the facts to make a fully educated and fully informed decision.

On the other hand, giving the Citizens Review Board the entire internal affairs file from the beginning will be a simple fix that promises to make the CRB process run more efficiently, by eliminating the time and expenses associated with retrievals of requested information. 

Citizens Review Board members undergo Citizens Academy training and sign confidentiality agreements before becoming members.  I trust their ability to manage confidential information and their judgment in making sound decisions, so long as they have all the facts.  Please ensure that they do have all the facts by requiring that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department give them the applicable internal affairs file, in its entirety, at the beginning of each new case they review.   

Sincerely,





DIVISION 2. CITIZENS REVIEW BOARDpermanent link to this piece of content


Sec. 16-56. Creation; composition; terms; compensation; appointments; vacancies; quorum; removal.permanent link to this piece of content
(a)  There is hereby established a citizens review board to be composed of 11 members: five members to be appointed by the city council, three members to be appointed by the mayor and three to be appointed by the city manager. The appointing authorities shall ensure that the members of the board are representative of the community.
(b)  Members must be continually domiciled within the county and must be registered to vote within the county.
(c)  Board members shall attend and successfully complete the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department's Citizens' Academy and receive training on relevant legal and policy issues as required by the city manager. This training must be completed prior to any board appointee serving as a member of the board.
(d)  Individuals with a felony conviction or a class A1 misdemeanor conviction shall not be eligible to serve on theboard. In addition, individuals with a class 1 or class 2 misdemeanor conviction within three years of their nomination for appointment shall be ineligible to serve. Further, conviction of or a plea of nolo contendere to a felony, a class A1 misdemeanor, a class 1 misdemeanor, or a class 2 misdemeanor during the term of office shall automatically terminate membership on the board, irrespective of any appeals. Board members charged with a felony, a class A1 misdemeanor, a class 1 misdemeanor, or a class 2 misdemeanor during a term of office shall be automatically suspended until disposition of the charge, and a quorum shall be established from the remaining membership.
(e)  Prior to serving, each board member must sign a confidentiality agreement that is satisfactory to the city and which shall require that members maintain as confidential any information classified as confidential by state law or otherwise classified as confidential by the city.
(f)  The members shall serve staggered terms of office for three years, with no member serving more than two consecutive terms.
(g)  The board shall elect a chairperson and vice-chairperson from the membership.
(h)  When a vacancy occurs, the original appointing authority shall appoint a person to serve for the unexpired term of the vacant position.
(i)  Six members shall constitute a quorum in order to hold business meetings and hearings. Members are required to attend all business meetings and hearings in accordance with the attendance policies promulgated by the city council. Vacancies resulting from a member's failure to attend the required number of meetings shall be filled as provided in this section.
(j)  All members shall serve without compensation.
(k)  Members of the board shall be subject to removal from office by a two-thirds vote of the city council.
(Code 1985, § 16-34)
Sec. 16-57. Meetings.permanent link to this piece of content
(a)  The citizens review board shall hold regular meetings as scheduled by resolution of the board. The affirmative vote of a majority, a quorum being present, shall be required before any recommendation is made on any matter considered. A majority vote shall be required for any decision made by the board.
(b)  Special meetings may be called by the chairperson to carry out any duties described in section 16-58 by giving each member notice in writing, by providing personal notice, or by leaving notice at the member's residence not less than 72 hours prior to the time set for the meeting.
(Code 1985, § 16-35; Ord. No. 2344, § 1, 7-28-2003)
Sec. 16-58. Duties and responsibilities.permanent link to this piece of content
(a)  The citizens review board shall:
(1)  Serve as an advisory board to the chief of police, the city manager, and the city council.
(2)  Review appeals by the citizens who filed complaints of disciplinary dispositions imposed by the chief of police or his designee relating to allegations of misconduct against a sworn police officer. The board may hear appeals of complaints regarding alleged violations of the following rules: use of force, unbecoming conduct, and arrest, search and seizure. In addition, the disposition of the review of any discharge of a firearm by an officer which results in the death or injury of a person may be appealed to this board by the person injured or the next of kin if death occurs. When a death results and there is no next of kin, any member of the city council or the chairperson of the community relations committee may file an appeal pursuant to section 16-59. The disciplinary actions that may be reviewed shall include the findings of the chief of police that an allegation has been categorized as: sustained, not sustained, exonerated, or unfounded. The dispositions that may be reviewed for the discharge of firearms shall include: justified, not justified, or accidental. The board may review only appeals of citizen complaints arising from incidents that occur after the effective date of the ordinance from which this section derives. The board may not reviewappeals of decisions of the city manager or the civil service board.
(3)  Determine whether to hold an appeal hearing. The board may hold an appeal hearing only when it appears, based upon a preponderance of the evidence, that the disposition of the disciplinary charges entered by the chief of police constituted an abuse of discretion by the chief of police.
(4) Conduct appeal hearings, which include receiving and evaluating testimony and issuing findings of fact and recommendations to the chief of police and the city manager. The duty and power of the board is to conduct an appeal hearing and to determine whether, by a preponderance of the evidence, the chief of police abused his discretion by:
a. Finding in a disciplinary action that allegations were sustained, not sustained, exonerated or unfounded; or
b. Finding in connection with the discharge of a firearm that the officer's action was justified, not justified, or accidental.
(5)  As required by state law, maintain as confidential all personnel information to which the members gain access as a member of the board. In addition, board members shall be required to execute and adhere to a confidentiality agreement that is satisfactory to the city.
(b)  The citizens review board shall promulgate rules and regulations to effect its exercise of authority under this division and shall keep such rules and regulations on file with the city clerk.
(Code 1985, § 16-36)
Sec. 16-59. Appeal procedure.permanent link to this piece of content
(a)  Under this division, all complaints will be investigated by the police department. Upon completion of an investigation, the chief of police shall, consistent with state law, notify the complainant by certified letter of the disposition of the complaint. The complainant also shall be informed of his right to appeal the decision of the department to the citizens review board.
(b)  All appeals to the citizens review board must be filed in writing with the city clerk's office. The request must state the reason for the appeal and the nature of the incident. The citizen may seek the assistance of the community relations committee in drafting and filing his appeal. The citizen must file this appeal within seven calendar days of receiving written notice of the disposition of the complaint. The citizen must provide a valid current address for the purpose of all notifications required to be made pursuant to this division.
(c)  Upon receiving a request for an appeal hearing, the chairperson of the board shall direct the chief of police to prepare a summary of the case and forward the summary to the chairperson of the board. A meeting of the boardwill be held to discuss the request for appeal.
(Code 1985, § 16-37)
Sec. 16-60. Necessity for hearing.permanent link to this piece of content
(a)  Upon receiving a request for an appeals hearing, a meeting of the board will be held within 30 calendar days of the request.
(b)  In a public session, the chairperson shall indicate whether the board has decided to hold a hearing and, if so, shall announce the date, time and place of the hearing. The chairperson shall notify the complainant and other involved parties in writing of the decision and, if a hearing is to be held, also shall advise all parties in writing of the reasons for the decision to hold a hearing.
(Code 1985, § 16-38; Ord. No. 1779, § 1, 3-26-2001)
Sec. 16-61. Hearing procedures.permanent link to this piece of content
(a)  If the citizens review board decides to conduct a hearing, it shall be concluded within 30 calendar days of the date of the decision to hold an appeal hearing. Should the complainant or the department desire a hearing date other than that set by the board, the complainant or the department shall submit a written request for a change of the hearing date, stating the reason for the request. The chairperson shall approve or disapprove such request, provided that such request is received by the board at least seven calendar days prior to the date of the hearing. For good cause, the chairperson may continue the hearing from time to time, but all appeals must be concluded within 30 calendar days from the date of the decision to hold an appeal hearing. The hearing shall be conducted in a closed session, with at least six members of the board present.
(b)  All witnesses must testify under oath.
(c)  All of the proceedings before the board shall be recorded.
(d)  All parties involved shall have the right to be represented by counsel or any other person of their choice.
(e)  The complainant shall offer evidence first in support of his appeal. The department and officer shall have the right to cross examine the complainant and his witnesses. Thereafter, the department and officer shall have the right to offer evidence, and the complainant shall have the right to cross examine the department's and officer's witnesses. At the conclusion of all the evidence, the complainant or his representative, followed by the department and officer, may make a closing statement.
(f)  Members of the board may question witnesses or request additional information or further investigation at any point in the process.
(g)  Members who, in a particular case, have a conflict of interest shall not attend or participate in the hearing and decision-making process.
(h)  Within ten calendar days after the conclusion of the hearing, the board shall issue its written findings of fact to the chief of police and the city manager along with a recommendation. The findings of fact must be supported by a preponderance of the evidence and approved by a majority of the board who were present at the hearing.
(Code 1985, § 16-39)
Sec. 16-62. Action by chief of police and city manager.permanent link to this piece of content
(a)  The chief of police shall review the findings of fact of the citizens review board and any other information at his disposal. The chief of police shall take such action as he deems appropriate, consistent with state law and city policy. The chief of police will then, within seven calendar days of the receipt of the board's recommendations, report his decision to the city manager.
(b)  The city manager shall review the decision of the chief of police and, within seven calendar days of the receipt of the decision of the chief of police, take such action as he deems appropriate, consistent with state law, and shall advise the chief of police of any intended action.
(c)  The city manager shall notify all parties, including the citizens review board, of the decision of the city manager consistent with state law and city policy. The city manager also shall advise the city council of the outcome of the appeal. Notifications made under this subsection must be made within seven calendar days of the date that the decision of the city manager was initially communicated to the chief of police.
(Code 1985, § 16-40)
Sec. 16-63. City clerk's duties; meeting places; staff.permanent link to this piece of content
(a) Under this division the city clerk shall:
(1) Act as secretary to the citizens review board;
(2) Keep the minutes of its meetings;
(3) Be custodian of all papers and records pertaining to the business of the board; and
(4) Perform such other duties as the board may require.
(b) The city council shall provide sufficient and reasonable rooms and use of public buildings for meetings and hearings of the board as may be necessary.
(c) The city manager shall assign staff to support the functions of the citizens review board.
(Code 1985, § 16-41)
Sec. 16-64. Reports.permanent link to this piece of content
The citizens review board shall make a semiannual and an annual report of its actions for each preceding year. These reports shall be kept in the files of the board and a copy delivered to the chief of police, city manager, city council and the community relations committee.
(Code 1985, § 16-42)


Here is the complete text of the law allowing the CRB to review full personnel files:


GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF NORTH CAROLINA
1997 SESSION


S.L. 1997-305



The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

Section 1.  The first six sentences of Section 4.61 of the Charter of the City of Charlotte, being Chapter 713 of the 1965 Session Laws, as rewritten by Chapter 623 of the 1995 Session Laws, reads as rewritten:
"Sec. 4.61.  There is hereby continued a Civil Service Board for the City of Charlotte, to consist of five members, members and two alternates; three members and one alternate to be appointed by the City Council and two members and one alternate to be appointed by the Mayor. Each member shall serve for a term of three (3) years.  In case of a vacancy on the Board, the City Council or the Mayor, as the case may be, shall fill such vacancy for the unexpired term of said member.  For the purposes of establishing a quorum of the Board, any combination of Board members and alternates totaling three shall constitute a quorum. All board members and alternates shall attend regular meetings for the purposes of meeting attendance policy and familiarity with Board business and procedures.  Alternates shall attend hearings when needed due to scheduling conflicts of regular Board members and shall vote only when serving in the absence of a regular Board member. Attendance at meetings and continued service on the Board shall be governed by the attendance policies established by the City Council. Vacancies resulting from a member's failure to attend the required number of meetings or hearings shall be filled as provided herein."
Section 2.  Section 4.61(7)c. of the Charter of the City of Charlotte, being Chapter 713 of the 1965 Session Laws, as enacted by Chapter 449 of the 1979 Session Laws, reads as rewritten:
"c.      Appeal hearings.  Upon receipt of a citation for termination from either Chief or upon receipt of notice of appeal for a suspension from any Civil Service covered police officer or employee of the Fire or Police Department, or firefighter, the Board shall hold a hearing not less than 15 days nor more than 30 days from the date the notice of appeal, or the citation, is received by the Board, and shall promptly notify the officer of the hearing date. Termination hearings shall be held with a panel of five made up of any combination of available members or alternates, and suspension hearings shall be held with a panel of three made up of any combination of available members or alternates.  In the event an officer desires a hearing at a date other than that set by the Board within the period set forth above, such officer may file a written request for a change of hearing date setting forth the reasons for such request, and the Chairman of the Board is empowered to approve or disapprove such request; provided, that such request must be received by the Board at least seven days prior to the date set for the hearing.  For good cause, the Chairman of the Board may set a hearing date other than within the period set forth above, or may continue the hearing from time to time."
Section 3.  G.S. 160A-168(c) reads as rewritten:
"(c)     All information contained in a city employee's personnel file, other than the information made public by subsection (b) of this section, is confidential and shall be open to inspection only in the following instances:
(1)      The employee or his duly authorized agent may examine all portions of his personnel file except (i) letters of reference solicited prior to employment, and (ii) information concerning a medical disability, mental or physical, that a prudent physician would not divulge to his patient.
(2)      A licensed physician designated in writing by the employee may examine the employee's medical record.
(3)      A city employee having supervisory authority over the employee may examine all material in the employee's personnel file.
(4)      By order of a court of competent jurisdiction, any person may examine such portion of an employee's personnel file as may be ordered by the court.
(5)      An official of an agency of the State or federal government, or any political subdivision of the State, may inspect any portion of a personnel file when such inspection is deemed by the official having custody of such records to be inspected to be necessary and essential to the pursuance of a proper function of the inspecting agency, but no information shall be divulged for the purpose of assisting in a criminal prosecution (of the employee), or for the purpose of assisting in an investigation of (the employee's) tax liability.  However, the official having custody of such records may release the name, address, and telephone number from a personnel file for the purpose of assisting in a criminal investigation.
(6)      An employee may sign a written release, to be placed with his personnel file, that permits the person with custody of the file to provide, either in person, by telephone, or by mail, information specified in the release to prospective employers, educational institutions, or other persons specified in the release.
(7)      The city manager, with concurrence of the council, or, in cities not having a manager, the council may inform any person of the employment or nonemployment, promotion, demotion, suspension or other disciplinary action, reinstatement, transfer, or termination of a city employee and the reasons for that personnel action.  Before releasing the information, the manager or council shall determine in writing that the release is essential to maintaining public confidence in the administration of city services or to maintaining the level and quality of city services.  This written determination shall be retained in the office of the manager or the city clerk, and is a record available for public inspection and shall become part of the employee's personnel file.
(8)      In order to facilitate citizen review of the police disciplinary process, the city manager or the chief of police, or their designees, may release the disposition of disciplinary charges against a police officer and the facts relied upon in determining the disposition to the person alleged to have been aggrieved by the officer's actions or to that person's survivor and to members of the citizens' review board.  Board members shall maintain as confidential all personnel information to which they gain access as a member of the Board.  Each member of the Board shall execute and adhere to a Confidentiality Agreement that is satisfactory to the City.  For purposes of this subdivision, the 'disposition of disciplinary charges' includes determinations that the charges are sustained, not sustained, unfounded, exonerated, classified as an information file, or classified as any other disciplinary disposition category subsequently adopted by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.  In the event that the citizens' review board hears an appeal of a police disciplinary case, the disposition of the case, as defined in this subdivision, as well as the facts and circumstances of the case, may be released by the city manager or the chief of police, or their designees, to any person whose presence is necessary to the appeals hearing as determined by the chief of police or his designee.
(9)      That portion of a video or audio tape produced by a mobile video recorder (MVR) in a police department vehicle which recorded an event resulting in a citizen complaint against a police officer may be reviewed by the person alleged to have been aggrieved by the officer's actions."
Section 4.  This act applies only to the City of Charlotte.
Section 5.  This act is effective when it becomes law.
In the General Assembly read three times and ratified this the 17th day of July, 1997.
s/   Dennis A. Wicker
President of the Senate

s/   Harold J. Brubaker
Speaker of the House of Representatives



Here is a link and the text of the CRB Agenda item for tomorrow night:

2. Citizens Review Board Briefing
Committee Chair: Warren Cooksey

Resources: Ron Carlee, City Manager’s Office
Eric Campbell, City Manager’s Office
 Bob Hagemann, City Attorney’s Office
 Chief Rodney Monroe, Police
 Willie Ratchford, City Manager’s Office

Time: 45 minutes

Synopsis
 On April 1, 2013, the City Council requested that the Council-Manager Relations
Committee review the current Citizens Review Board ordinance. As a part of that
review, a task force including members of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community
Relations Committee and the Citizens Review Board formed to gather feedback
from the community regarding the Citizens Review Board process.
 On September 23, 2013, the Citizens Review Board Task Force reported its
findings and recommendations, and the Council-Manager Relations Committee
requested the City Manager’s review. The ordinance amendment is drawn from a
review of the task force report and the full record related to their work. The City
Manager’ recommendation was developed in consultation with the Attorney’s
Office, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, Community Relations staff, and
others.
 The Council-Manager Relations Committee voted unanimously (Cooksey, Howard,
and Mitchell) to approve the task force recommendations at their September 23,
2013 meeting.
 The recommended changes are based on the important concept that the Citizens
Review Board appeal process is and should remain an administrative review of
personnel decisions made by the Chief of Police; this is consistent with a
recommendation of the task force that the Citizens Review Board maintain its
appellate structure. Other proceedings, civil, or criminal litigation as well as the
Civil Service Board remain available to the public and to police officers.
 In addition to the substantive proposed amendments, other changes are set forth
in the proposed draft ordinance, which is intended to enhance the procedural
operations of the Citizens Review Board consistent with task force




Bonus note:  City Clerk Stephanie Kelly is now only one month behind publishing the City Council Agendas.  This is a big improvement over the 4 month lag which has plagued the site.  However, it’s still not acceptable.