9/6/2018 8:21:00 PM PRRs for mayor, council member emails still unfulfilled
by PATTI STOKES
SUMMERFIELD - It's going on five months since the first of over a dozen public records requests was submitted to the Town of Summerfield and as of Sept. 5, none have been fulfilled. After town business-related emails surfaced weeks ago which were sent to and received by Mayor Gail Dunham at her firstname.lastname@example.org account, which she has claimed is only for personal use, citizens have continued to request specific, or all of Dunham's town business-related emails, regardless of whether they were sent to or received at email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or any other account.
Still, the mayor refuses to release her emails, claiming all of her emails pertaining to town business are stored on the town server. Town Manager Scott Whitaker has repeatedly said that is not the case.
"Regarding our mayor's email@example.com address, there is no connection between this account and the town server. The town possesses emails from this address only when they're received by addresses that have a connection to our server, such as firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, etc.," Whitaker recently wrote to a citizen. "Otherwise, the town doesn't have access to this address when the mayor emails citizens, contractors, agencies, legislators, etc., or when others email her at this address.
"Regarding our mayor's long-time firstname.lastname@example.org address, the situation is the same," Whitaker continued. "The town only possesses those emails when they're received by addresses that have a connection to the town. The town has gradually acquired several emails that clearly show she has used (as late as mid-June) this personal address with some individuals regarding town business. ....
"Nothing has changed regarding what records the town possesses. Certainly it's in possession of many emails from our mayor, but the requestors are asking for either all of the mayor's town-related emails or specific ones to individuals that the town has never possessed," the town manager added.
The most recent email that surfaced was sent out April 18, 2:02 a.m. from Dunham's email@example.com account to seven recipients, including Council member Teresa Pegram (emailed to her personal email address), Todd Rotruck, former town finance officer Dana Luther, former town council member Elizabeth McClellan and four other citizens. In it, Dunham, was lamenting the Board of Elections' unanimous decision the previous day that Rotruck had not established permanent residency in Summerfield and his voter registration should be changed to reflect his Greensboro address - which disqualified him from holding office in Summerfield.
"Why not move an RV to Strawberry Rd ASAP - like tomorrow. Get it hooked up and stay there for a bit," Dunham wrote.
"Maybe get the horses there. That would get family there too.
"Is there any same-day early registration and voting?
"You don't care if you vote on May 8th (referring to the Primary election) - you just want to be a registered voter in Summerfield.
"Can you go to a Motor Vehicle voter registration - or any other location and register to vote at your Strawberry Rd address, knowing you cannot vote May 8th? You will be physically there if that makes a difference."
Citizens submitting public records requests for the mayor's town business-related emails say they have contacted the attorney general's office, the Sunshine Center of the North Carolina Open Government Coalition, and the ACLU and they may have no choice but to take legal action if the mayor and Council member Pegram, who also has unfilled public records requests for her town business-related emails, do not provide their emails as requested.