Sunday, April 15, 2007

Court clerk files false claim 3x, funds withdrawn for online land records

"The State Compensation Board has withdrawn $52,280 set aside for Charlottesville’s Circuit Court, finding that the clerk falsely claimed his office’s records were online. Clerk Paul C. Garrett said he had not yet spent the money, but declined further comment. Records indicate that he planned to use the funds to pay a vendor to put land records online....

On March 28, the State Compensation Board voted to revoke approval of Garrett’s funds, which were made available based on his three certifications that he was providing secure remote access to the land documents....

Both Garrett and Albemarle’s court clerk, Shelby J. Marshall, have said they’ll be ready to go online by July. The State Compensation Board indicated it would reconsider Garrett’s technology fund request after his records go online.

Full story: "State pulls court's funds for database: Clerk claimed records were online." By Liesel Nowak, April 15, 2007, The Daily Progress

"Some records should be online". Mar. 18, 2007, Letter in The Daily Progress

It is said that in politics perception is reality. Hence, the second law of politics states that all politicians are liars. The politicians don't mean any harm. They simply need to create whatever perception necessary to exercise power to do what they believe is in the public's best interest.

But in true reality, perception is often in error. So when I read the article about putting public records online ("Online records stir debate," Mar. 11. The Daily Progress), I asked myself, what if the city and county clerks of the court, Charlottesville's Paul Garrett and Albemarle's Shelby Marshall, are actually expressing a perception that's in opposition to reality? What if online public records would actually make it more difficult for crimes to occur?

As it stands now, the unemployed or wealthy can walk into the courthouse and steal identities. If the records were online, everyone would have more peace of mind by being able to check their own records from time to time. If the government charges $1,000 a year to access your own records, only the wealthy will be able to abuse the information they contain.

While I agree sensitive account information shouldn’t be online, public land records should be freely accessible. Knowledge is power, but only for those who possess the knowledge. I've been researching urban renewal for seven years. The courthouse charges fifty cents a photocopy and does not allow photographs to be taken of the deeds.

Online land records would make it easier for people displaced over the years to research their roots. It would make it possible to estimate the true scale of eminent domain use and identify trends. But the main purpose of digitizing the record is preservation. It's not unheard-of to lose an entire archive of legal documents to fire.

Online land records also make it easier to identify injustices, past and present, by both private citizens and public officials, sometimes the two in cooperation.

In the case of real estate, sunshine is the only true antiseptic. But politicians and criminals alike need secrecy for a false perception to flourish.

Blair Hawkins
Charlottesville, Virginia


Anonymous osceola42 said...

Hey Sugar, You were up late (9:49) and had to be at work early. Rest yourself !! Mr. Moose was here reading.......Good work!

4/17/2007 4:04 PM  

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