Erie County Officials Investigate “Artvoice-gate”
by Buck Quigley - posted 12:33 pm, November 14, 2011
Erie County Director of Real Estate Michelle Mazzone and Senior Contracts Administrator/FOIL Officer Edward Delaney called Artvoice this morning to explain that they were continuing an investigation into the disappearance of 200 copies of Artvoice distributed to the county’s Rath building (not pictured at right—that’s actually the Watergate complex) on Thursday, November 3.
Referring to the incident as “Artvoice-gate,” Mazzone explained that she and Delaney have been doing a little investigating of their own. “We went down and we talked to the security guards. No one’s seen anything. I’m going to talk to the county attorney. I don’t think we can give you video, but I’m going to ask him what he thinks I can do. We’re trying to get to the bottom of it.”
“We take it seriously,” Delaney added. “You have a legitimate right to have your paper read, and we understand that. We want to make sure that nobody’s messing around.”
He said security isolated some spots in the building where papers were found. “In the general intake area of the third floor, social services.”
“What may have happened—and this is speculation on my part—is that some of them were brought upstairs as reading material for people who are waiting for interviews.” Delaney said. He added that since this is the second time something like this has happened in the last year, security will be “[monitoring] that situation more closely.”
As for the security cameras that monitor the lobby where the papers are distributed every Thursday, Mazzone and Delaney could neither confirm nor deny whether or not the table where the issues are stacked would have been covered by such surveillance.
“That’s part of a law-enforcement technique, and as you know, under freedom of information, that’s exempt from FOIL. Homeland Security would kill us if we started talking—even to a member of the press—about camera angles and coverage,” Delaney explained. “We will revisit the situation, and if Michelle directs me to, I’ll revisit the situation with security.”
“We’re going to talk to the county attorney first, and get some advice, and then do a little investigating of our own, and then we’ll call you back,” Mazzone said.