The Xpress Files

Spend 14 years in the newspaper business, as Xpress has, and the paper starts to pile up. Over time, our reporters have collected mountains of memos, reams of reports, and enough official studies to keep a paper shredder humming 24/7. And don’t even get us started about the megabytes of e-mail correspondence clogging our hard drives.

Photo By Jonathan Welch

These government documents have been the lifeblood of many a news report, but certainly they deserve a better fate than languishing in our filing cabinets and cluttering our desks. And who’s to say that there’s not much more to be gleaned from them—crucial details that even a pro journalist might have overlooked?

So we’re going on the record with a new online feature, The Xpress Files, that puts key documents in your grasp. The collection spans local, state and national governments, and includes law-enforcement and judicial records as well. (A sampling appears below.) And like any archive worth the papyrus it’s printed on, this paper trail never ends: We’ll keep adding documents on a daily basis, building a one-stop shop for citizens who want to be in the know about the inner workings of government.

Have a look for yourself (at www.mountainx.com/xpressfiles)—then tell us what we’re missing and what you’d most like to see in The Xpress Files. Our researchers await your tips, requests and suggestions at xpress@mountainx.com.

Nixon administration memo: Phone call from Billy Graham

This declassified document from the administration of President Richard Nixon reveals that the Rev. Billy Graham called the White House from Montreat to discuss a potentially thorny matter-a request by a prominent Democrat for a public show of support from the evangelist. The memo shows how Nixon’s White House handled the matter.

Click here to download a PDF file of the document.

Mumpower on ‘Civic Center Drug Activity’

In an e-mail dispatch to Asheville City Manager Gary Jackson and local media outlets, Council member Carl Mumpower reported on his March 23, 2007, visit to a concert in the Civic Center’s Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, which, he charged, “smelled like an Amsterdam hash bar.”

Click here to download a PDF of the e-mail.

2007 Buncombe County audit of Sheriff’s Department evidence room

This is a copy of Buncombe County’s audit of the Sheriff’s Department evidence room. The report cites “poor management, poor organizational skills and failure to maintain a clear chain of custody” during the administration of former Sheriff Bobby Medford. The audit was done as part of the transition that took place after Medford lost a re-election bid to incoming Sheriff Van Duncan.

Auditors selected a 30-item sample from the evidence room database and found major problems, according to the report: “The audit disclosed that 50 percent of the sample was no longer in evidence inventory; 27 percent of the sample could not be located and 14 percent of located items had been compromised. With a 91 percent error rate, the audit was expanded to to a complete inventory before evidence rooms were released to the new Sheriff’s administration.”

Click here to download a PDF file of the document.

Asheville Police Department letter to district attorney regarding a missing gun

This March 2005 letter from Asheville Police Department Chief Bill Hogan to Buncombe County District Attorney Ron Moore details how a gun in the Police Department’s evidence room went missing.

Click here to download a PDF file of the document.

Buncombe County’s Emergency Operations Plan

Buncombe County’s Department of Emergency Services is charged with coordinating the county’s response to disasters both natural and human-made. Among the department’s duties is compiling a comprehensive emergency-operations plan-a hefty document containing a laundry list of dire threats, what’s to be done about them and who’s to do it. Xpress obtained Buncombe’s 375-page EOP as part of a national freedom-of-information audit organized to test local-government openness.

See our March 14, 2007 story, “Buncombe’s Plan for the Worst” for more information about this document.

Click here to download a PDF file of the plan.

Nesbitt search warrant

On Feb. 24, state Alcohol Law Enforcement agents carried out a raid on property maintained by business owner and conservative activist Chad Nesbitt, which ALE officials claim targeted illegal poker games that have been going at the site. Nesbitt denies the allegations.

Click here to download a PDF of the document.

EPA on CTS of Asheville contamination

This page from a 1991 Environmental Protection Agency study summarizes the agency’s findings at the CTS of Asheville plant on Mills Gap Road in south Asheville. The final sentence, recommending “no further remedial action,” may seem perplexing, given the hazardous chemicals listed. According to the EPA, this evaluation was done to determine whether the site should be placed on the National Priorities List—a roster of the worst hazardous-waste sites in the nation. Based on sampling results, CTS of Asheville did not make the cut.

Click here to download a PDF of the document.

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About Jon Elliston
An Asheville-based mountain journalist: Former Mountain Xpress managing editor. Investigations and open government editor at Carolina Public Press. Senior contributing editor at WNC magazine.

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