LMEs and the public’s right to know

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.

David Cornwell
Executive Director
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

Comments

  1. Floyd W. Johnson, Jr. says:

    Posting of LME minutes on a web-site is not required under the North Carolina Public Records Law. While seeking this information, yous must be prepared to pay the cost to furnish such, and it must be done in writing.

    It appears you have a problem with PBH, so why include other LMEs? Also, it seems if though you are on a “witch hunt” just to have something to write about. Most of articles have been designed in to cover your real intentions, and not just for advocacy.

    I would like to see your minutes since the inception of your organization, and the names of your board of directors.

    it seems only fair for you to do what you have ask other to do.

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