Friday, August 12, 2016
Should NorCo Post Your Dirty Underwear Online?
Northampton County Executive John Brown is hardly known for his transparency. He ignores emails and telephone calls, not just from bottom-feeding bloggers like me, but from honest-to-goodness reporters as well. He is so secretive that no one knows where he really worked before he was elected. Now he's running for Auditor General, and all he will say on his candidate website is that he spent "most of his career working in the private sector turning around unprofitable businesses by making them more effective, efficient and successful." He identifies none of these businesses or the role that he played. That's none of your business.
Once they ascend to the judicial heavens, judges become secretive as well. Online assessment records are scrubbed so that no snoop can determine where a black robe lives. Although it's really a bit paranoid, I understand. But the addresses of cops and DAs, who arguably are in more danger, are still there for the whole world to see. County officials have said No to cops asking for a little privacy, but judges are special.
So while judges and the Exec are all for being secretive when it comes to them, they are more than willing to share your dirty underwear online. Come October (assuming the County actually finishes something it starts on deadline), all of your skidmarks will be there for the world to see, as noted in the post above.
Unpleasant custody dispute? Bitter divorce? Squabble over an unpaid bill or a boundary dispute? It will be there for the entire world to see. Sure, federal records are available, too, but those usually involve important constitutional questions. This is nothing more than an invasion of privacy encouraged by people who themselves are secretive.
I have no problem with any person who wants to physically travel to the courthouse to find out what is happening in a case. But this just caters to the nosy.
County Council should enact a privacy ordinance under which (1) any person who wishes to have his name scrubbed from online assessment records should be able to do so; and (2) any person can opt out of online exhibition of civil records.