Seizure of former Landis town manager’s hard drive delays release of records

Published 12:00 am Sunday, March 17, 2019

By Liz Moomey

LANDIS — More than a month after submitting and open-records request to the town for emails from former Town Administrator Reed Linn, the Salisbury Post has not received a response.

The Post made its request for Linn’s emails ahead of a Feb. 4 Board of Aldermen meeting — when it was announced Linn would be retiring. The open-records request specifically asked for emails sent to or by Linn from November to Feb. 4.

The reason for the delay, Deputy Police Chief and interim Finance Officer Roger Hosey said, is that the State Bureau of Investigation has seized the hard drive from Linn’s computer, which contained the emails.

“I discussed your request with our town attorney and he is in ongoing conversations regarding legal and logistical issues related to fulfilling your request,” Hosey said.

Asked about the legality of the delay, N.C. Press Association Attorney Amanda Martin cited G.S. 132-1.4(f) as a reason why an embezzlement investigation into the town of Landis, which resulted in the immediate resignations of Linn and Finance Officer Ginger Gibson, should not prevent the release of emails. The statute Martin cited states, “The use of a public record in connection with a criminal investigation or the gathering of criminal intelligence shall not affect its status as a public record.”  

In an interview with the Post, Locklear said he is concerned the Post’s request will reveal personal matters of town employees because of the lack of Landis’ email policy. Locklear added that he expects the Board of Aldermen and staff to go into an executive session at the March 28 budget workshop to address the Post’s record request.

Another pending open-records request is for the town’s water and sewer rates. Interim Town Manager Kenny Isenhour said he has made progress regarding that request, but wants to ensure the accuracy of the rates before publishing.

“As we researched, we found some inconsistency that I don’t want to go into,” Isenhour told the Post.