Exploring the Lack of Transparency in Seneca County Clerk Office A Follow up

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In this article, we will be diving into the issue of transparency and access to public records in the Seneca County Clerk Office. We will discuss a recent visit to the office by a new auditor, and the interactions that took place. It is important to understand the importance of transparency in government offices, as well as the rights of individuals to access public records. Let’s delve into the details and shed light on this matter.

Key Points

  1. Introduction to the Seneca County Clerk Office: The Seneca County Clerk Office is responsible for maintaining records, issuing licenses, and providing information to the public. However, there have been concerns regarding transparency and access to public records in this office.

  2. Visit from a New Auditor: Recently, a new auditor named Rock made a visit to the Seneca County Clerk Office to assess the situation. His visit was documented, and it provides valuable insights into the issues at hand.

  3. Lack of Cooperation: During the visit, the auditor encountered resistance from the office staff. They questioned his reasons for being there and attempted to restrict his access to certain areas. This lack of cooperation raises concerns about transparency and openness in the office.

  4. Interactions with Office Staff: The auditor engaged in conversations with the office staff regarding his purpose for being there. He emphasized that he was working on a story about the county building and needed to take photographs for his research. However, the staff argued that certain areas were off-limits due to security reasons.

  5. Public Accessibility of Records: One of the main points of contention was the public’s right to access records in the office. The staff informed the auditor that while the lobby area was open to the public, certain areas were restricted, including those containing public records. They particularly expressed concerns about the use of cameras in the restricted areas.

  6. Freedom of the Press: The auditor asserted his right to freedom of the press, highlighting that the First Amendment grants him the right to document and report on public affairs. He argued that he should be allowed to take photographs of public records as part of his investigative work.

  7. Conflicting Policies: The back-and-forth between the auditor and the office staff revealed a lack of clarity regarding the policies surrounding public access to records. The auditor questioned the existence of any law or regulation that explicitly prohibits the use of cameras in the public records area.

  8. County Attorney’s Role: The county attorney, David Edmond, also became involved in the interactions. He stated that he was not the auditor’s attorney and refused to provide legal information. However, he encouraged the auditor to file a notice of claim if he disagreed with the office’s policies.

  9. Discrepancies in Policies: The auditor pointed out that other County Clerk Offices in the region did not impose the same restrictions on the use of cameras in the public records area. He expressed his concern that Seneca County was an exception in this regard.

  10. The Right to Access Public Records: The auditor questioned the rationale behind restricting access to public records if individuals were not allowed to take photographs or make digital recordings. He argued that the public should have the right to view and document their own records.

  11. Lack of Clarity on Laws: Throughout the visit, there was a lack of clarity regarding the specific laws or regulations that justified the restrictions on the use of cameras. The office staff seemed unable to provide a satisfactory answer to the auditor’s questions about the legality of their policies.

  12. Implications for Transparency: The lack of transparency and the restrictions placed on accessing public records have significant implications. It raises concerns about whether the office is effectively serving the public and upholding the principles of open government.

  13. Conclusion: The visit to the Seneca County Clerk Office by the new auditor shed light on the lack of transparency and restrictions on access to public records. The interactions between the auditor and the office staff highlighted the need for clarity in policies and the importance of upholding the public’s right to access information. By addressing these concerns, the office can work towards creating a more transparent and open environment for the community it serves.

In conclusion, transparency and access to public records are vital aspects of a democratic society. The Seneca County Clerk Office must reevaluate its policies and ensure that it is serving the public’s interest. By doing so, the office can regain the trust of the community and foster a more transparent and accountable government.

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