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Wendy Saltzman's CBS Atlanta News Web Blog

Public Officials- Not so Public Information?

In the Media we all know about the cat and mouse game of tracking down public officials. We ask for interviews, they avoid us, and we are often left with no choice but to go on air with a “No Comment” response. But I have rarely seen the blatant lack of accountability of elected officials that I came across in recent weeks with the Fulton County School Board.

I was working on an investigation that identified a pretty significant waste of our tax dollars, in this case, of our school kids money. The School District was being over-charged 1.5 million dollars for basic school supplies. In more than a hundred cases we identified, the school district was being charged more than the general public for pencils, paper, printers and other items. So I took the findings of our report to the school board members, thinking if someone was wasting my money, I’d want to know about it. Contrary to my thought process, these elected school board members not only declined my repeated requests for a formal interview, but when I caught up with them at a school board meeting, they went to extremes to try to avoid me. They snuck into meetings, ran into bathrooms, and rushed out the door.

WATCH VIDEO HERE:  http://www.cbsatlanta.com/video/19699630/index.html

Through the Open Records laws I later got my hands on an email, sent by school spokesperson, Susan Hale, to the board members, advising them not to speak with us. The advice included getting away from me and my cameraman “as soon as possible without seemingly running away.” And “to keep from saying anything on camera that could come across as flustered, nervous, or guilty looking.”

WATCH VIDEO HERE: http://www.cbsatlanta.com/video/19722054/index.html

 The problem here is these people are elected by us, and accountable to the taxpayers. But somewhere along the way they forgot that. But we’re not letting up. Here at CBS Atlanta News we think it’s important to get answers to these Tough Questions. I’d like to hear from you about your thoughts. And if you have questions for these school board members, email me. Wendy.Saltzman@CBSAtlanta.com


June 11, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments