Jeff L. Thigpen Register of Deeds

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Data Collection and Real Performance Measures for the Register of Deeds office!

I've never seen a business plan from our Register of Deeds office since I've been a commissioner. How does the Deeds office define success? How is it communicated to the public? I had an interesting email from someone who has worked in real estate and has an IT background and he offered a unique perspective on these kinds of issues.

The facts are the Board of Commissioners receives only limited information. JUST THE NUMBERS for the following areas: Real Estate documents/Pages Processed; Vital Records Recorded and Issued; Vault Records Processed; Cancellations: UCC's Filed; Marriage Liscenses Issued; UCC Terminations; Deeds Recorded; Deeds of Trust Recorded; Vault Copies; Copies of Birth, Deaths, and Marriages.

From my exchange I am clear: we need to develop a business plan for the Register of Deeds office. Here are a few areas I'll look at:

* implementation of an on-going system for collecting data--A GOOD MATRIX for (internal operations and consumer satisfaction) IE, Not only the #'s but-- Who uses our office? When do they use it? How much time does it take? Costs per document or interaction? comparative data.. stuff like that.

* a process of identifying, documenting, reporting, and investigating consumer satisfaction/dissatisfaction in a timely manner.

* evaluation measures for defining the strengths and weaknesses of the office; the creation of stakeholder involvement statements and process;

*developing a reporting mechanism online and interdepartmentally, and for public consumption regarding the Department.

If these kinds of measures are in place in the Register of Deeds office, I have not seen them.

As a commissioner with many other departments--I must admit this not just an issue for the Deeds office. But I would like the opportunity to create a new model. Here are some annual reports. I have not seen a model I like yet. I'll keep looking...

Brunswick County, NC
Rockingham County, NC
Wake County , NC

Greater Greensboro Observer Forum!

Lots of candidates and the event will be rebroadcast at a date uncertain right now.

Let me be clear ...(ABOUT PARKS AND REC FEES!)

If we cannot resolve this soon, we will have war over these fees.

My resolve on this issue is fueled by my disappointment that the City did not put this on the table during the library fee discussion that came as a result of the City's differential fee study. Now several council members are crying foul again. This is no way to work in good faith after progress has been made on other issues.

I've never said the county should not pay their fair share. That is part of the reason why we changed the sales tax distribution method--to rectify disparities and negotiate agreements with the cities and towns. We made progress on the library fees, but their was NEVER any direct negotiations over these fees.

No offense to Mark with the N&R, but I'm a bit more angry about this than my quote today.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Customer Service Exercise!


Check out these sites as examples of user friendly contact information for staff with phone numbers and email. (and placing value on good employee morale in Cumberland!) (NC Secretary of State) (Cumberland County) (New Hanover County)

Can you reach a staff member at ?

If so, where is it? Let me know.

Forsyth Register of Deeds has a news section! Good idea...

Check out this website for news and information for the public! I'd like to do this in Guilford County with up to date infomation to serve your needs in our office.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Thigpen to McCain "I'm no longer a Diamondback fan!"

At a recent event I broke the news to him and made it official. I told him my heart was with Guilford Alumnus Tony Womack, starting 2B for St. Louis Cardinals. He understood and it was still an amicable meeting as you can see....


Why should you vote for me?

I’ve got the “right kind” of experience. I will offer a more collaborative approach for the next generation of technology projects for the Deeds’ office. I can do a better job collaborating with Tax, Planning, GIS, and Information Services as well as with users in the legal, banking, and general citizenry for the betterment of the office. There have been many problems with the current leadership in the Deeds office in gaining support for her office. (

I can do a better job working with the Board of Commissioners and I represent a fresh management style for the office.

Monday, September 27, 2004

re: NC Wine Industry from summer...

Good article on local wine industry.......

Are we having fun yet?

At a recent event, a great time was had by all!

A sure way NOT to improve technology in the Register of Deed's office...

Use Guilford County Information Services (IS) Department on the back end of technology projects.

Example: My opponent ignored Information Services advice and made a unilateral decision 2 years ago to use “snap servers” for information storage through a number of applications.

Result: Snap servers were not dependable. When system was down, it was down for extended time. Complaints resulted. IS had to ultimately commit time and resources to fix this bad judgment and put them on the county's SAN (Storage Access Network).

Alternative: I will listen and work together with IS to improve technology. I'll develop a process to avoid unilateral decisions that adversely impact technology enhancement in the Register of Deeds office.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

A second way NOT to improve technology...

No real plan for collaboration in interfacing or data sharing information with other Departments or users.

Example: Board of Commissioners approved $450,000 for new electronic receipting, cashiering, and indexing system for the Recording Section. The projected fund balance at year-end, based upon the current year’s estimated expenditures and revenues was $472,000 and additional revenue from Automation Enhancement and Preservation Fund.

Result: No plan or evidence of a good process to change the “island of automation” culture by including Tax, Planning, GIS, or IS in RFP (Request for Proposal) process. IS involvement is in only symbolic ways through Vendor presentations. User communities are not at the table in an ongoing way to develop a plan of action.

Alternative: I will develop a collaborative process for a Request for Proposals (RFP) that will take time to shape and develop solid recommendations. It will not be vendor-driven! A great model is our Community Development and Planning Department process for their RFP to improve technology. I will get "solid" recommendations within a year and with buy-in from multiple groups.

I'll also invite Department Heads, organizations and individuals representing the user community (citizens, banking, legal, real estate, building and surveyors) to join me to create a real plan of action. The results will truly have synergy and be a “One-Stop online shop” for information and improved operations within the offices in Greensboro and High Point.

Tax and Register of Deeds are expected to begin a phased in implemenation and may take an additional two years. But this is a great way to get a great product!

"Hot Site" for protecting records from potential terror attacks...

I had a question posed to me re: potential terrorist attacks. Here's my response.

Register of Deeds records are backed up and stored off-site, but it does not include all records. I will work to establish a Disaster Recover/"hot site" for the office. A hot site can get data immediately operational after a potential disaster. The Guilford Center has an agreement with Sun Guard and can bring up files and continue operating immediately. I will support future recommendations by the County Manager to develop an agreement for a hot site to store, replicate and periodically test our software systems so records can be protected, preserved and recovered in case of terrorist attack.

This is good preparation for such an event. Let's hope we never have to fully implement it.

Friday, September 24, 2004

E-Recording legislation did not begin with my opponent!

My opponent at the Two Art Chicks candidate forum talked about going to Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham Co.) to create legislation for E-Recording. While there is legislation submitted by Sen. Berger and Guilford County is now signed onto the legislation, my opponent was not the founder of E-Recording legislation in N.C. And yes, there were precursors to Sen. Berger's legislation and I believe she is taking more credit than is due. Do not be misled.

Here are the facts. Mecklenberg County Register of Deeds Judy Gibson was able to get local legislation during the 2002 session (SL 2002-115) that allowed her to move forward with electronic recording. That bill included Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties. In 2003, 5 other counties joined the list with another local bill (SL 2002-115) which passed in the 2003 session. This bill added Durham, Harnett, Moore, New Hanover, and Randolph counties to the original list.

Over the past several months, more counties have shown interest in signing onto legislation for e-recording. That's because there has been a coordinated effort by Register of Deeds across NC to get legislation enacted and introduce LOCAL legislation for E-recording. Guilford County is a part of the 3rd round of this effort, not the 1st!

I appreciate Sen. Berger's leadership on the issue as well as Sen. Katie Dorsett (D) from Guilford Co. as a co-signer. I support the legislation. But my opponent is attempting to take more credit than is due to her.

I appreciate my opponent agreeing to be part of an ongoing effort, but now you know the rest of the story.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Elle Thigpen has her 1st Birthday!

Elle turned 1 last Thursday! Michelle and I are very proud parents!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

I will reduce your copy costs as Register of Deeds!!

As your Guilford County Register of Deeds, I will reduce your copy costs on my first day of office!

As you can see ( there is a 25 cent per copy charge for uncertified copies. These copy charges will change under my leadership and the savings will go into your pocket. As a commissioner I supported the effort to reduce copy costs for the media and public. At the Courthouse and in County Offices we implemented a policy - $.03 per page except for copies of microfiche, which are $.15 per fiche.

In the Register of Deeds office, I will reduce the current charge for copies of uncertified copies related to land transactions, deeds, deeds of trust, birth and death certificates and marriage licenses to $.03 cents per page instead of the massive $.25 cent per page charge. I am still examining the issue of copy charges for uncertified copies of plats, but look for a reduction in those copy costs as well.

The Register of Deeds office generates $5.8 million in revenue through fees with a $2.6 million annual budget. Many of the fees are set by NC General Statute with no local control. Uncertified copy costs are one area the Register of Deeds can regulate by charging "a reasonable amount" and truly look out for taxpayers.

$ . 25 cents a copy is simply "an unreasonable amount".........

Monday, September 20, 2004

One way to appreciate a new notary public!

Check out the NC Secretary of State's website to learn more about the process of becoming a notary public.

One simple idea: Let's have better ongoing communication with local notary instructors (through GTCC) about where to have students go in the Register of Deed's office to pay their local notary fees and to receive their oath after they complete the approved class and send their paperwork through the NC Secretary of State's office. No new program, just a letter, phone call, or email to them on a regular basis as a reminder.

In addition, let's try to get a form letter from the Deeds office in their material congratulating them on their effort and reiterating the points made to the instructors.

What do you think?

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Keep family of Gary Burnett in your prayers...

I want to express my appreciation for the life of Gary Burnett, Guilford County School Board member who died yesterday. Please keep his family in your prayers.

Friday, September 10, 2004

On Immigration Policy....

Lorraine Ahearn wrote an article a couple of weeks ago and I forgot to mention it. There was a follow-up letter to the News and Record yesterday by a citizen who mentioned me. I called him last night and we had a good conversation about immigration policy. I think we both understand each other a bit better. He has a unique perspective on the issue.

But take a look at Lorraine's piece...

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Quick reflection on State of the Community Luncheon...

There's been some discussion about Mayor Keith Holliday's statements regarding the media at the "State of the Community" luncheon yesterday. (John Robinson and Ed Cone). ( and Robinson documents, then reflects on the Mayor's statements on his blog.

In my opinion, the Mayor's comments and John Robinson's reflections represent a natural tension between public officials and the news media that should not be underscored, dismissed, nor demonized. This natural tension has the capacity to be productive, counter productive, frustrating, and deeply enlightening depending on the elected official, media rep., and/or issues involved in it and how they choose to engage the tension. Yesterday, the Mayor engaged the tension (so to speak) and John Robinson appropriately took issue.

Should the media have been THE example by the Mayor of Cone's articulation of the "Greensboro disease?" My short answer is No. And, I get frustrated by broad generalizations by leaders describing citizens as "nay-sayers" and/or those who practice the art of compartmentalization re: dissent or "critical analysis" by one institution ( and say it's bad for Greensboro. I get just as frustrated by the "It's all Good!" practice of blind optimism which neglects legitimate issues and challenges. Both approaches are part of the "disease" in my opinion and should be engaged. The challenge for leadership is to understand this dynamic but not conform to it and use venues like the State of the Community to articulate a common direction for recovery from this disease.

I hope the Holliday/Robinson dialogue moves us toward recovery, not relapse.