As you might imagine, some city officials are upset about Phillip M. Bailey’s story “Whistleblowers blocked?“, in this week’s LEO. One of them, city auditor Mike Norman, is claiming he was misquoted in Bailey’s story. Of course, we have all the info to back up Norman’s quotes, as well as the context he gave us for the story. That’s what I told WAVE-3 reporter Scott Harvey for this story, which ran last night at 11.
Naturally, we stand behind the story 100 percent. Bailey is a talented young reporter with a knack for exposing this kind of stuff. I hope people who may be upset that he got a good story don’t start trashing him in City Hall. That’d be unfortunate.
I’m supposed to talk with Norman today about his new claim and why he’s backing off what he originally told us, and I’ll give an update to the story once that’s finished. As well, I’ve spoken with an attorney about the records request denied by the county attorney’s office — again, see Bailey’s story for background on that — and plan to file an appeal today with the Office of the Attorney General.
One more thing: 84-WHAS talk show host Francene spent about 30 minutes on yesterday’s show talking with LEO News Editor Sarah Kelley about the story. Check out her site here.
UPDATE: I spoke with Mike Norman, chief city auditor, about an hour ago. He said he hasn’t told media we “misquoted” him, but that we misunderstood what he was saying. That’s an important distinction, and unfortunately the “misquoted” claim made it into the WAVE story last night.
As far as the substance of the story, Norman claims that if we would’ve been able to see the documents the county attorney is withholding from us, we would’ve better understood that he was trying to say his office and the mayor’s office actually agreed to scuttle the anonymous tip line because of the potential for causing undue harm to those who’d had a complaint taken against them. Ironically enough, such a concern exists because state open records laws are lax on this point and would allow for public access to those records, regardless of the validity of the complaints.
That is, unless someone were to block those records from public view.
Of course, Norman told us — and is quoted in the story, accurately, he said — that the tip line proposal “stopped” in the mayor’s office. Then, Monday, Metro denies us access to the records that are pertinent, in Norman’s explanation, to understanding the full story. That’s a red flag.
LEO Weekly still plans to file an appeal with the AG’s office this afternoon. As well, I stand by the story 100 percent, and I think we were right-on in our reporting and in capturing the proper context. I expect Norman to write a letter to the editor that’ll run in next week’s issue.