|« Richard Rider Stands Straight and Opposes Lease Revenue||ETA Forum »|
Email as Public Record
Why wouldn't the city try to act in the most open manner? Government that acts in the open will be more likely to act in the public's interest. Compare these news reports. Do you think the the city is doing its best? I don't even think they are doing the minimum.
NCT Questions raised on Encinitas e-mails
Routine City Council business became thorny at a meeting last month, when a resident demanded an explanation of the city's policy for retaining e-mails.
Kevin Cummins didn't get an answer. There really wasn't one to give. A stumped City Council turned to its attorney, Glenn Sabine, who said there was no easy answer. He said he could respond to Cummins' question in a confidential memo to the mayor. The memo would be protected by attorney-client privilege, Sabine said Thursday.
[Why should the law be a secret from the public?]
"This is a great time to address a loophole in your policy," Cummins told the council at its Feb. 23 meeting. "How long do you keep your e-mails, and why not add e-mail to your records-retention schedule?"
Cummins made his remarks as the City Council approved the destruction of boxes and boxes of records, including letters at least two years old.
The city's retention policy sets a two-year limit to the permanent schedule for the keeping of records.
Most letters to the City Council are copied, distributed to all five members, logged and kept chronologically for two years, City Clerk Deborah Cervone said last week. In most cases, those letters are subject to disclosure under the California Public Records Act.
No retention policy exists for e-mails, she said....
SBSUN Delaying deletion?
COLTON - A city policy allowing internal e-mails to be deleted after 30 days has an Arcadia attorney and a local businessman fuming.
Cynthia Puertas, an attorney acting on behalf of El Sombrero nightclub owner Henry Aguila, and pizza restaurateur Gary Grossich contend e-mails are public record and should be archived by the city for a minimum of two years, as public-record law mandates...
"Anything that's required to be retained as an official city record is to be copied and retained in a hard file," he said. "If it's not something kept in the ordinary course of business, it's not something that's typically retained."...
"I think they have embarrassing, potentially unethical information that they're attempting to hide from the public," said Grossich, who owns Nickelodeon Pizza at Fiesta Village.
Puertas said the city is intentionally withholding the e-mails because of a recent e-mail scandal....
Some cities, however, have been forced to change their e-mail retention policies after being sued.
In July 2005, Monterey attorney Michael Stamp sued the city of Monterey, declaring its freshly revised e-mail policy illegal and unconstitutional - it defined e-mail correspondence as "generally transitory in nature."
Employees were expected to delete e-mails on a 60-day rolling schedule.
Stamp prevailed in his lawsuit.
He said he was awarded more than $110,000 in attorney fees and the city was forced to retrieve and provide him hundreds of e-mails.
"They rewrote the policy in a way that we felt met the bare minimum of the Public Records Act," Stamp said.
In late 1999, Corona was forced to revise its e-mail retention policy after attorney Richard Ackerman learned the city routinely purged its e-mails.
Corona revised its policy, requiring employees to print e-mails as hard copies and file them if they were considered public records.
An article written by Beth Groves, assistant to the Corona city manager, and Corona Councilman Darrell Talbert was subsequently posted on the League of California Cities' Web site in August 2000.
The article - headlined "E-mail and the Public Records Act: Think Before You Delete!" - defined three types of e-mail considered official city records:
E-mail created or received in connection with public business.
E-mail that documents the formulation and implementation of policies and decisions.
Messages that initiate, authorize or complete a transaction of public business...
"E-mails are public records - there's no question about that - if they deal in government matters and information," said Peter Scheer, executive director of the San Rafael-based First Amendment Coalition. "To be on the safe side, e-mails should be kept for two years."