Councilman wants probe into document leaked to WBTV

Councilman wants probe into leaked document

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A Charlotte City Councilman has requested a probe regarding leaks of confidential leaks to the media.

Councilman Jon Autry suggested the probe to city attorney Bob Hagemann at the end of last week's city council meeting.

"I would ask this council to instruct the city attorney to investigate how this leak occurred," Autry told council members.

RELATED ARTICLE: Council member asks: Who leaked confidential city memo?

The leak Autry speaks of is this confidential memo obtained by WBTV. It was sent to Charlotte Firefighter Marty Puckett from City Manager Ron Carlee.

Puckett who was the unpaid intern of council rep. Claire Fallon sent a memo on Fallon's behalf calling for the dismissal of his boss Fire Chief Jon Hannan.

In the confidential memo, called Puckett's behavior unacceptable and says it must cease.

RELATED ARTICLE: City manager to firefighter: Stay away from city council members

Meanwhile city attorney Bob Hagemann says his hands would be tied in any kind of an investigation.

"I do not have the capacity or the ability for something like this to put people under oath or to subpoena any documents."

The March 4 written memo, written by Carlee, was handed to Puckett. It was also sent to City Attorney Bob Hagemann and Puckett's boss, Fire Chief Jon Hannan.

Puckett's association has feuded with Hannan over a number of issues.

The city considered the letter to be part of Puckett's personnel file, which is exempt from public inspection. Puckett is allowed under state law to release information from his own personnel file, but he said he didn't do that.

"I did not," he said. "There were only four people who had that letter. Who was it?"

So when it comes to the affairs of local government, how much does the public have a right to know?

Dr. Eric Freeman is the dean of the Knight School of Communications at Queens University. While transparency may be an issue, Dr. Freeman feels not all documents are fair game.

"The HR divisions of most of these institutions of city or county are bound to state statutes that protect those personnel records for various specific reasons to protect their personnel," he said.

Council members weren't enthusiastic about launching a probe immediately.

Mayor Jennifer Roberts suggested it be discussed another time. At-large council member Vi Lyles said she took the matter seriously, but wanted more information about what Hagemann could do.

Puckett said he's willing to take a polygraph test as part of any investigation.

Autry said he's concerned that the council will lose interest in the issue if it doesn't move quickly.

"It is also very focused in the scope of who did receive that memo and where it originated" Autry said. "So I think there is a way to move this."

It is expected to be an agenda item at the City Council meeting on March 28.

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