Transparency & Confidentiality: A Closer Look at Woodfin's Personnel Matter - TribPapers

Transparency & Confidentiality: A Closer Look at Woodfin’s Personnel Matter

Woodfin Police Chief Dykes. Photo courtesy of Town of Woodfin.

Woodfin – In recent developments in Woodfin, the dismissal of Police Chief Michael Dykes, a dedicated employee of over 23 years, has sparked community interest and raised questions about transparency in local government. While rumors abound regarding the reasons behind Dykes’ termination, both the town authorities and Dykes himself have chosen to remain silent on the matter.

The Tribune reached out to Woodfin Town Manager Shannon Tuch to inquire about North Carolina statute GS160A-168, which addresses the privacy of employee personnel records. Specifically, subsection (c)(7) of the statute empowers city managers, with the concurrence of the council, to disclose information regarding employment status and the reasons for any disciplinary actions taken against city employees. However, such disclosures are contingent upon a written determination that releasing the information is essential to maintaining public confidence in the administration of city services or preserving the level and quality of those services.

In response to the Tribune‘s inquiry, Tuch affirmed the town’s familiarity with the law and expressed a commitment to transparency within legal bounds. She emphasized the town’s obligation to maintain confidentiality regarding personnel matters unless circumstances necessitate disclosure to uphold public confidence or service quality. Tuch stated, “It would take truly extraordinary circumstances…to necessitate breaching confidentiality.”

Furthermore, Tuch addressed concerns about public confidence in Woodfin’s administration, asserting that despite speculative reporting by some media outlets, there is no basis for lack of confidence in the town’s operations. She reiterated the town’s adherence to personnel policies and suggested that exhausting internal procedures may precede the release of certain information as permitted by statute.

This situation underscores the delicate balance between transparency and confidentiality in municipal governance. While the public understandably seeks clarity on matters of public interest, legal and ethical considerations dictate the cautious handling of personnel information. As Woodfin navigates this delicate situation, the community awaits further developments with a keen eye on the principles of accountability and transparency.