Sunday, December 28, 2008

Greensboro News and Record 10 Questions Article on Triadwatch and Keith Brown

In today's local section of the Greensboro News and Record Sunday December 28, 2008 they have a segment called "10 Questions" CLICKHERE where they interview local citizens and ask them questions.

I was asked to come in for an interview to talk about the issues and how I got started on my local blogs . It is with great thanks that I want everyone who has helped me along the way on these 2 blogs Triadwatch and Protest Petitions for Greensboro .

Below is the whole article for all to see.


If you are thinking about running for office in Guilford County, you might want to start reading Keith Brown's blogs. That's because the Greensboro native and current High Point resident has made it his business to investigate area power brokers.

In his blog Triad Watch, he has taken on developers and uncovered incomplete campaign finance reports from local pols. His other blog, Protest Petition for Greensboro, advocates for a statute that requires a super majority to approve zoning cases when abutters don't approve.Brown sat down with reporter Amanda Lehmert to talk about his work as a watchdog.

Q. Why did you start blogging?

A. There was a rezoning case off Friendly Avenue. It was such a controversial case, I think it barely passed City Council, and Robbie Perkins was the deciding vote on that case. I said, "Listen, this is unfair to the citizens of Greensboro. They need to have the right to have a protest petition like everyone else." A lot of the bloggers started to get into it. That was the next avenue. You need to get a blog.

Q. When did you start

A. I started the protest petition blog back in February 2008.

Q. What about your other blog,

A. Triad Watch came about because I pigeonholed myself into the protest petition blog. So if I ever wanted to write about any other avenue - for example transparency in government, Heart of the Triad, rezoning cases - I couldn't write about it on a protest petition blog.

Q. What makes blogging a good format for you?

A. I think there are a lot of issues out there that places like the Greensboro News & Record won't write about. For example, the campaign contributions is the big thing I am into. I look at the lax reporting of a lot of people from Guilford County on their campaign contributions.

Q. How do you research campaign contributions?

A. You can go on the Guilford County Board of Elections Web site and actually see who is giving campaign contributions. You can really see who are the movers and the shakers in town and who is giving money to who. That's what I really want to report about.

Q. Right now you have a letter out to the state Board of Elections questioning a local campaign finance report. How did that come about? What were you looking for and what did you find?

A. I was just looking at the Sim kins PAC (political action committee). ... One of the things I noticed was there was a $5,000 contribution from Action Greensboro, and that was reported under individual contributions in the Sim kins PAC.You have to wonder, why do they give a $5,000 contribution to the Sim kins PAC? It was because they wanted all those (Greensboro 2008) bonds to pass, I'm sure. That was one of those things that I thought, this isn't right because it was under individual contributions. I am trying to figure out , can Action Greensboro, as a nonprofit, give money to a political action committee? Second of all, I would like to know, why was that labeled under individual contributions?

Q. What other kinds of issues have you uncovered in the campaign finance reports?

A. (County Commissioner Skip Alston's second quarter report) had nine contributions and they had nothing underneath for job profession or where they worked. Some didn't even have an address under there. The North Carolina general statute states that you have to have name, address and who their employer is. It's called transparency in government. We have to know who these people are and who they are giving to. Do they have a zoning case in front of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners? It's not just Skip Alston . Larry Proctor (who ran for at-large commissioner) is another. (County Commissioner) Paul Gibson was another one.

Q. Who has done a good job filling out their paperwork?

A. Kirk Perkins was a gold star Guilford County commissioner. He had everything. There was not one thing wrong with his campaign contributions. I don't see why they can't do the same thing Kirk Perkins did. He's his own campaign treasurer. So if anyone wants to learn, learn from him.

Q. How did you become interested in doing this kind of investigative work?

A. There was that (Society of Professional Journalists) Citizen Journalism Academy. I did go to that. One of the main things I got out of it was (learning about) the Freedom of Information Act.

Q. As a High Point resident, why are you so interested in things that happen in Greensboro?

A. I have lived here my whole life. I grew up here. There are things I want to do in High Point, too. I want to see a city like High Point, which is in the top 10 in the state, actually come into the year 2009 and start videotaping their City Council meetings.High Point needs that because nobody goes to the meetings.

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