Quick Update On Open Records Requests

Yesterday, October 28, 2013 I was pleasantly surprised to get a message from Ms. Irma Lopez, the city’s Public Records Coordinator letting me know that the pending records request that has been held up due to the issue of money orders has finally been released to me. As you will remember there has been a disconnect between the city manager’s office and the open records coordinating department on whether money orders were an acceptable form of payment.

According to the public commentary in last week’s city council meeting, Joyce Wilson had stated that money orders were acceptable to the city. However my money orders for open records requests had created an issue and were delaying my open records request.

Yesterday I was notified that the city had received my money order and that the city was sending me CDs “via overnight mail at city expense to expedite” my request.

Therefore I expect I’ll start to review the CDs sometime tomorrow.

In another request that I had submitted and that was promptly released by the city I came across an email exchange between Larry Romero and Joyce Wilson. Romero had asked Joyce Wilson to add a meeting to her calendar with “people from Estrada-Hinojosa” to see if there “any possibilities to use them on our Financial [sic] team”.

What caught my attention about this exchange was that I had specifically asked for emails between the city manager and city representatives for a specific date. The results showed the email from Larry Romero to Joyce Wilson in Joyce Wilson’s email box, but her response to him, which was included in Wilson’s batch did not show up in Romero’s inbox.

Although I suspected that the reason for this was that Larry Romero deletes his emails from his inbox and therefore my request that came in later would not necessarily show in his email box, I nonetheless asked for clarification. Although some us would suspect that city representatives regularly delete mail from their inboxes others would argue that email systems, nowadays have the capability to archive emails even though they may be deleted.

Ms. Lopez clarified what I had already suspected that “users may delete e-mails they do not need”.

At this point there are many questions we should be asking about this. They range from what is the city’s policy on email retention to does it matter that city representatives delete emails. This is something that we most likely will be pondering at a later date.

However I wanted to share with you this in order to document that at this point the city does not archive the city representative’s emails and that they may delete them as they see fit. For now, I’d be curious as to your thoughts on this.