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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) – New Hanover County Commission Chairman Jonathan Barfield sent out an e-mail tonight to constituents regarding our story about making commissioners’ cell phone records public.

Even though the county bought commissioners the phone and pays each $75 per month in tax payer money, and even though County Attorney Wanda Copely told us the county bought them the phones so they could conduct county business, because Barfield also uses the phone for personal business running his real estate company, he says turning over his records is “going too far.”

He says since his family’s cell phone numbers and information would also be on the records, he worries for their safety. He says he talked with Copely, who told him he didn’t have to turn over personal information.

But that’s where things get sticky. Commissioners would be able to go through and black out any and all information they deemed “personal” before turning over their records since they use the cell phone for both personal and county use.

Here’s what Commissioner Barfield wrote in his e-mail tonight:

Commissioners Cell Phones Public or Private
Below is a story that is posted on WWAY TV 3’s website concerning County Commissioners cell phones. I was contacted today by a reporter wanting to know my initial thoughts and my initial thoughts and comment was that was going too far. My concern was for my wife and children and their safety if all numbers on my cell phone bill were open to the public. After talking with our County Attorney I understand that the protocol is to black out all personal numbers and calls, and leave any call that may have been county related. For me that is a tall order to try to comprehend which numbers were county related or not. For me the easiest thing to do is to black out my families numbers and those readily available that I know were and let all of the others stand. The county does offer a $75.00 per month stipend to offset the calls that we receive on our phones for county business; this includes emails so I have no problem again opening up those numbers to the media. The question that I have is what does that mean to you the citizens of New Hanover County who want to contact your commissioners via telephone; it simply means that your numbers will be open to all who want to see them, including any media outlet. My question is, is that what you want? I would love to hear from you as there are over 3000 people who receive my E-Newsletter. I have been an advocate for making government as transparent as possible, but I also believe there are limits as well that must and should be respected as it related to the safety and welfare of family members especially children.

Comment on this Story

  • guesty

    That the voters will find out his fraud and kick him off the government gravy train. How funny he claims he doesn’t have room to carry two phones on his belt. Is the second phone going to be a bag phone? Stop making excuses and step up or step out.

  • Peter

    At first I thought, what is the big deal… is there something to hide?
    But, my ignorance was challenged by Mr. B’s rational to protect his family and hold conversations in confidence with constituents.
    Simply put, it is embarrassing that others in town do not understand his preservative, protecting, safeguarding, sheltering, shielding, and vigilant ways.
    May be this is why he is elected to the position he holds and they are not.
    I did like the joke about the size of his belt though.

  • Guest

    It’s fear. I think he has a lot to hide. If not, then what is the harm of releasing the phone records. Just as he bashed Leland Mayor Futch for probing and rasing questions about the Cape Fear Skyway Project. Apparently he has something to hide.

  • County Citizen

    You’re a smart guy Mr Commissioner, its pretty easy to see the answer here. You have a County phone, and a personal phone. The excuse that you don’t have enough room on your belt for two phones is lame. I’ve seen your pictures, I’m sure you’ve got a big enough belt.

    This is a disgustingly lame excuse in order to avoid responsibility, and your argument will only fly with the simple minded folk. The rules are clear, and you’re clearly trying to skirt them and the responsibilities you have to this county.

  • Guest-of-the-day

    If he worked for any company other than the county there would be no question that whatever calls were made on the company issued phone are company property and available to be audited at any time. The fact that the public has to weigh in on this issue just to see normal business rules being applied by the county means to me that there is something seriously wrong with New Hanover County chain of command. Nowhere else that I lived would a commisioner get away with making such unprofessional comments.

    If you need a case to examine as a precedent, look no further than the former Mayor of Detroit Kwame Kilpatrick, who did time in prison for using his city issued cell phone to carry on a relationship with his subordinate.

  • Guest

    This is such a lame excuse, if you dont want your personal information giving out make your personal calls on your own cell phone if us taxpayers are paying for it we wanna see who your calling, If thats not how they wanna do it then let them pay for the bill out of thier pockets not ours!!!!

  • JT

    The simple cure do not use county property to do personal business if you do not want to make it public buy your own smart phone!

  • Guest4396

    These commissioners are playing the taxpayers for fools. They get elected and do as they please, forgetting what they are really there for. I guess this is a prime example why so many don’t bother to vote anymore. What difference is it going to make? Political corruption from the local level all the way to the feds. Nothing but a bunch of low-life sleaze-ball crooks, in my opinion.

  • Guest7969

    Conversations with constituents are part of public record…as far as protecting his family…EVERYBODY IN THE COUNTY KNOWS where he LIVES…I don’t think hiding numbers on a phone really matters…

  • guesty

    …. just don’t use a county paid cell phone for private business. I have a company supplied phone and I know at any time I could be asked to turn it over for an audit. I know all my e-mails and texts are monitored so I use my phone appropriately. If I want to make a call I don’t want the company I work for know about, I better use another phone. And that better not be my desk phone because the same rule applies. As it does with my company supplied computer. It really isn’t that difficult.

  • Guest228

    I dont blame Mr. Barfield..are we not forgetting that the county posted people’s social security numbers online for ANYONE to see..yeah, dont call me Mr. Barfield unless its from a payphone..I do not want my cell number viewable for everyone to call anytime they want to…

  • Guest

    You hope they are being payed $$$$.00 a day like their counter parts across the river were doing to double their salaries. Oh just raise the pay to stop it.


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