Whether enquiring minds want to know or not, the public has a fundamental right to know how its government works and access to documents compiled by agencies of state and local government.
The state’s public records laws “are critical to operating a fair and open government,” says NC Attorney General Roy Cooper in the preface to the “Guide to Open Government and Public Records” his office distributes. What access means, however, is obviously something upon which the state’s 23 Local Management Entities disagree.
While most of the LMEs maintain at least some of their governing board meeting minutes online, five — Crossroads, Cumberland County, Johnson County, PBH, and Southeastern Regional — apparently do not. I say “apparently” in way of a disclaimer since I only have confirmation from PBH that they do not post their minutes online. And while a fairly exhaustive search on the other LME websites for board minutes has turned up nothing, it’s hard to be absolutely sure they’re not tucked away somewhere on those sites.
The absence of PBH board minutes is particularly troubling since it is the LME that the General Assembly designated as the operational model other LMEs must follow. And while a “Board Meeting Schedule & Documentation” link on the agency’s website might spark hope that documentation means minutes, it actually just means a meeting schedule instead.
Of course, just because an LME has its board minutes online, doesn’t mean they’re complete or current and often they’re not much use at all. Some standout sites include:
Five County — Last and only listing Jaunary 24, 2011. Archived Board Minutes link returns a page not found error.
East Carolina Behavioral Health – If listings are to be believed, the board has met only four times since Oct 20, 2009, the last February 22, 2011.
Pathways – Although the months of 2011 are listed, the last minutes posted are November 2010.
Mecklenberg – County Commissioners serve as governing board, with LME deliberations apparently lumped together with normal Commission meetings.
Centerpoint – Minutes are there, but without the consent agenda, attachments, and other information from the “Board Meeting Information Packet,” those minutes are less than englightening.
Beacon Center – The exact opposite of Centerpoint, these 50-page plus minutes appear to come with complete documentation.
North Carolina Mental Hope
The following are links to the minutes of LMEs governing boards and the last date for which minutes are available. In the absence of minutes, the link is to the default board of directors page. About half of the LMEs are current through May, although this late in July, one might expect the June minutes to have been approved by now.
Alamance-Caswell – April 4, 2011
Beacon Center – May 17, 2011
Centerpoint – May 17, 2011
Crossroads – No board minutes available
Cumberland County – No board minutes available
Durham Center – May 5, 2011
East Carolina Behavioral Health – February 22, 2011
Eastpointe – May 24, 2011
Five County – January 24, 2011
Guilford Center – May 10, 2011
Johnson County – No board minutes available
Mecklenburg County Area Mental Health – June 21 (County Commissioenrs)
Mental Health Partners – April 17, 2011
Onslow Cateret Behavioral Healthcare Services – May 31, 2011
OPC Area Program – April 11, 2011
Pathways – November 2010
PBH – No board minutes available
Sandhillls – May 10, 2011
Smoky Mountain Center – May 26, 2011
Southeastern Center – April 28, 2011
Southeastern Regional – No board minutes available
Wake County – May 17, 2011 (Human Services Board)
Western Highlands Network – April 1, 2011