July 2, 2014

Using private email for official government business may finally be ended in California

update: This problem is still widespread in 2015 in many cities. This has to stop. It may take Hillary Clinton down. This story is flabbergasting.

Interestingly its only taken 4 years for this issue to finally come to a head after we first raised the issue in 2011. The problem is simply that of public officials elected and otherwise using private non government email addresses for official government business and communications (with residents..or worse) as a way to "coyly" avoid Public Records requests laws. Its an old Karl Rove trick from 2007 (which may have been where local politicos learned it). But the law looks like it may finally be catching up with the politicos who like to play fast and loose on this. This article (by Chriss Street no less) notes that the California Supremes are going to be taking up the issue and given California's penchant for "Sunshine", city and local government politicos hiding their emails in private email accounts better start cleaning up their email accounts now (time to purge!). You will note that unlike most small cities, the Lakewood city council members do NOT have their own email addresses @lakewoodcity.org. Hmmm how interesting. Even if they did have emails @lakewoodcity.org they are not published anywhere to be found.

Our simple solution to the problem posed by the League of California Cities faux dilemma (in its opposition letter to the California Supremes) is not to allow elected officials and employees of government entities use non government email accounts to send and receive email messages (and attachments!) that pertain to government or taxpayer related business or issues. If the official errors on the side of inclusion and there is something personal on the government e mail server we let the government public records code sort that out. Its more than capable of doing that. We agree its too hard to police and store and get access to private email. That's one of the reasons the government officials want to use it and why we don't want them to. But that is no excuse to just allow officials to keep bypassing the open government problem Karl Rove style. If a government official receives a government related email on his private email account he/she just forwards that to his/her government email account and then responds (if necessary) with the government account. This can also be set up to take place automatically. All smartphones allow multiple domain emails on one phone. If you cant handle that then you have no business using email. Gmail allows you on the fly to select which domain and which email you want to reply from. This is simple people. Pay attention old fogies on the Calif Supreme court! Time for the email shuffle to end and evading public records requests.  This is not a technological problem. Its just a "problem" that local government officials don't want fixed.

Lakewood Accountability Action Group™ LAAG | www.LAAG.us | Lakewood, CA A California Non Profit Association | Demanding action and accountability from local government™ click here to receive LAAG posts by email

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