Under the Dome

Dome: Questions linger over public records vote

jmorrill@charlotteobserver.comlbonner@newsobserver.comApril 17, 2013 

Questions lingered Wednesday about a committee vote the day before.

By a voice vote, the Senate local government committee approved a bill that would give 15 local governments – including Wake County – the option of placing legal notices on their own websites. The N.C. Press Association opposed the move, saying it would not only make government less transparent but close an important revenue stream for smaller papers.

Some newspaper executives who attended the meeting questioned the vote, saying they counted more “no” votes.

One Republican, Sen. Louis Pate of Mount Olive, voted with four Democrats against the bill.

Minutes show nine Republican members were at the meeting. But it’s unclear exactly how many voted. On Tuesday, John Bussian, counsel to the N.C. Press Association said the vote had been 6-5 to reject.

On Wednesday, Chair Tommy Tucker, a Union County Republican who said rules prevented him from calling for a show of hands, said he’s convinced the ayes had it. Bussian was unavailable for comment. The bill is expected to be voted on by the Senate Thursday.

File this under obsessive

Famous lately for dress codes and messy desk admonitions, the state Department of Heath and Human Service has a new three-page policy on email signatures. The policy is packed with a lot of detail on font sizes and such.

Here’s a sample:

PURPOSE

The purpose of this policy is to establish a uniform format for email signatures for all North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) employees who have been assigned an email account in order to create consistency in the information included as part of every employee’s email signature.”

Requirements:

• Font style and size: Arial, black, 11 pt.

• No logo

• No background

• No personalized quote or division slogan

• No bold or italics font

There are also instructions on how to format the signature from where to put your name to the font size of the disclaimer at the end (7.5).

Employees will be “periodically monitored for compliance,” according to the policy and those who “fail to adhere or implement ... may be subject to personnel actions and procedures at the division/office/facility director’s discretion and in accordance with the North Carolina State Personnel Act.”

In a statement addressing the need for policy, DHHS communications director Ricky Diaz said: “This standardization by our Chief Information Officer will help enhance customer service and ensure our employees sign their emails consistently with the necessary contact information.”

His email signature appears to follow the approved format, though the Public Records Law disclaimer and the signature may be in the same font size.

And the Oxmeter goes to ....

Freshman Sen. Tamara Barringer received the state Senate’s “Oxmeter” on Wednesday, which is awarded in jest to the more loquacious members of the chamber. The impromptu “honor” came after the Republican from Cary spoke on the floor at length about the merits of amendments to the Business Corporation Act. Sen. Tom Apodaca, who presented the Oxmeter – the punch line is that it measures hot air – said, “It’s one of those awards you can’t explain what it takes to win. You just hear it and you know.”

Barringer says she tends to speak at length because she is a college professor.

Staff writer Lynn Bonner and Charlotte Observer staff writer Jim Morrill.

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