Restraining Order Against City Of Sacramento Delays Email Deletion

Capital Public Radio

Capital Public Radio

 

A judge has issued a temporary restraining order barring the City of Sacramento from deleting its old emails for 22 days. The city had planned to begin deletions Wednesday.

Richard Stevenson filed a Public Records Act request to see all of the emails and sued to preserve them.

A Sacramento County Superior Court judge granted the restraining order but says Stevenson must narrow his request by 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Stevenson says he’s pleased with the restraining order and hopes it provides enough time for the city council to change the city’s email deletion policy.

“It gives a chance for the city council, which returns on the fourteenth,” says Stevenson. “See, this came up when the city clerk’s boss, the city council, was in recess, which means there was no chance to appeal to the council.”

Stevenson and a second plaintiff say they will attempt to provide the city with a gift of storage so that it can preserve all emails dating back to 1997.

The city attorney’s office could not say if there is no legal reason the city could not accept or use such a gift.

Bob Moffitt

Sacramento Region Reporter

Bob is the Sacramento Region Reporter. He has been at the forefront of the coverage of the Sacramento Kings’ saga and the effort to build a new arena in Sacramento. He also covers education, business, environment, and sports stories.

Lawsuit to Enforce the California Public Records Act (CPRA)

MEDIA RELEASE

July 6, 2015

Contact:

Erik Smitt, Policy Director, 916-215-2275, Erik@ eyeonsacramento.org

Paul Nicholas Boylan, Attorney, 530-297-7184, PNBoylan@gmail.com

In a press release today Eye On Sacramento, a member of the community coalition advocating for robust ethics, transparency and redistricting reform of City government, notifies the press that a lawsuit has been filed with the Sacramento County Superior Court seeking to enforce the California Public Records Act (CPRA), and an application has been made for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to prevent the City of Sacramento from deleting emails that form a critical, irreplaceable part of the public record.

If the application for a TRO is denied, the City will destroy these emails on Wednesday, July 8.

The hearing for the TRO will take place at the Gordon D. Schaber Sacramento County Courthouse, 720 9th Street, Sacramento, on July 7, 2:30 pm, Department 24, the Honorable Judge Shelleyanne W. L. Chang presiding.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Richard Stevenson, member of Eye On Sacramento and Katy Grimes, Journalist.  Both Plaintiffs have made formal requests to access to emails the City intends on destroying on July 8 and are suing the City under the CPRA to enforce their rights to gain access to these records.

Plaintiffs are asking Judge Chang to issue a TRO preventing the City from destroying the emails Plaintiffs want to access because, if the City destroys these emails, the lawsuit will be rendered moot and Plaintiffs’ – and the public’s – constitutional right to access these emails will be irrevocably injured.

“My clients understand the City’s desire to manage the City’s email archive,” said Paul Nicholas Boylan, the attorney representing the plaintiffs in the CPRA enforcement lawsuit. “But the City’s interest can’t violate the public’s fundamental right to access public records. The City’s plan to destroy these emails after my clients have asked to see them is like a librarian burning down an entire library because a member of the public has asked to check out  and read one book,” Boylan said. “It is unthinkable that this might actually happen.”

As noted in news reports of an ongoing trial in Sacramento Superior Court, public officials have deleted records even after legal notifications to preserve those same records.  Eye On Sacramento supports Richard Stevenson and Katy Grimes in their lawsuit to enforce the California Public Records Act and their application for a restraining order to prevent the City of Sacramento from destroying public records.

“Eye On Sacramento is focused on transparency and citizen access to all mechanisms of government.  Deletion of public records is contrary to the principles of Open Government and the public’s right to know.” Erik Smitt, Policy Director.

Open Government … transparent, responsive, accountable!

 

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Implement a six month moratorium on deletion of any emails at the City of Sacramento.

Sign the petition to the City of Sacramento

The City of Sacramento plans to start deleting emails.  These are a record of City actions and the source of information to the public under the Public Records Act.

Once the emails are destroyed, there will be no evidence.

Eye On Sacramento needs time to prepare an Open Government project to pull back the curtain on City secrecy.

Sign here

Eye On Sacramento calls for Moratorium on deletion of City of Sacramento e-mails … in the news …

Press coverage of the Eye On Sacramento press conference regarding City of Sacramento e-mail deletion.

City of Sacramento to delete old emails News 10 ABC

Group Asks City To Delay Deleting Emails  Capital Public Radio

Don’t rush into email purge  Sacramento Bee

Sacramento City to Delete All its Emails  KFBK News Radio

City Ethics and Transparency Reform Project

Sign the petition to the City of Sacramento, here

Eye On Sacramento calls for Moratorium on deletion of City of Sacramento e-mails

MEDIA RELEASE

June 29, 2015
Contact: Erik Smitt, Policy Director
916-215-2275

At a press conference today on the steps of Sacramento City Hall, leaders of Eye On Sacramento, a member of the community coalition pressing for robust ethics, transparency and redistricting reform of City government, called on City officials to halt the City’s announced plan to mass delete City e-mails on July 1st and to place a six-month moratorium on the deletion of City e-mails pending the ongoing and robust community conversation over needed reform of City government.

“The Ethics and Transparency Reform Project has drawn hundreds of City residents to public forums.  These forums held in every council district in the City over the past three months with the consistent message we received was loud and clear: the people of Sacramento want a major upgrade of ethics and transparency in their City government.  Even the City council has an ongoing initiative to upgrade City ethics and transparency.  For City officials to even entertain the idea of a mass deletion of millions upon millions of City e-mails dating back years in the face of this citizen-led reform movement is an affront to the will of the public and their aspirations for a more open, more responsive and more ethically accountable City government.” said Eye On Sacramento, Debra Desrosiers.

“We call on the mayor, the City council, the City manager and the City clerk to do the right thing, to do the responsible thing,  and stop the deletion.  The cost of electronic storage of e-mails has dropped to virtually nothing in recent years, imposing no burden on City government.  The cost of searching such e-mails to respond to the public’s request for records is a necessary cost of open government and democracy, not a reason to shred the history of the City, to frustrate the public’s legitimate access to public records or to stymie pending and future civil and criminal investigations into potential wrongdoing and lawbreaking by City officials,” said EOS Policy Director Erik Smitt.

Smitt added, “How many e-mails are City officials planning to trash?  Believe it or not, even City clerk Shirley Concolino has no idea how many would be deleted.”  “We have no way of knowing,” she stated in a recent e-mail to Craig Powell, President of Eye On Sacramento.

“We know from hearing from citizens at our forums that City government is operating with a major league trust deficit,” said Eye On Sacramento,  Erik Smitt.  “Citizen trust in City government, indeed, all levels of government, is at an all-time low.  We see it in falling participation rates in City elections and City meetings.  We see it in recent election results. We all hear it at the grocery store, in the coffee houses and around the dinner table.  Let’s be clear: there is no better way to rebuild the public’s trust in City government than to adopt meaningful ethics and open government reforms and there is no better way to further destroy that trust than to mass delete decades of City e-mails in the face of public calls for greater transparency in City government,” Smitt added.

As part of the press conference, EOS Policy Director Erik Smitt delivered a gift of a one-terabyte USB drive to the clerks at the public counter of the City clerk’s office, which provides enough storage space, he says, to store approximately 10 to 25 million e-mails, which EOS acquired for a total cost of $65.09

At least two citizens of Sacramento, with standing, have made Public Record Requests that include emails planned for deletion

Under the City’s new records policy, e-mails would be deleted two years after their transmission or two years after the project to which they relate is completed.

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Speakers included:

Erik Smitt, Policy Directory, Eye On Sacramento
Debra Desrosiers, Eye On Sacramento Board Member
Jean Fleury, Eye On Sacramento Board Member
Joe Rubin, Journalist and Investigative Reporter

Lawsuit Filed in Sacramento County Superior Court to Enforce the California Public Records Act

MEDIA RELEASE

July 6, 2015
Contact:
Erik Smitt, Policy Director, 916-215-2275, Erik@ eyeonsacramento.org
Paul Nicholas Boylan, Attorney, 530-297-7184, PNBoylan@gmail.com

In a press release today Eye On Sacramento, a member of the community coalition advocating for robust ethics, transparency and redistricting reform of City government, notifies the press that a lawsuit has been filed with the Sacramento County Superior Court seeking to enforce the California Public Records Act (CPRA), and an application has been made for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to prevent the City of Sacramento from deleting emails that form a critical, irreplaceable part of the public record.

If the application for a TRO is denied, the City will destroy these emails on Wednesday, July 8.

The hearing for the TRO will take place at the Gordon D. Schaber Sacramento County Courthouse, 720 9th Street, Sacramento, on July 7, 2:30 pm, Department 24, the Honorable Judge Shelleyanne W. L. Chang presiding.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Richard Stevenson, member of Eye On Sacramento and Katy Grimes, President of the Sacramento Taxpayer’s Association. Both Plaintiffs have made formal requests to access to emails the City intends on destroying on July 8 and are suing the City under the CPRA to enforce their rights to gain access to these records.

Plaintiffs are asking Judge Chang to issue a TRO preventing the City from destroying the emails Plaintiffs want to access because, if the City destroys these emails, the lawsuit will be rendered moot and Plaintiffs’ – and the public’s – constitutional right to access these emails will be irrevocably injured.

“My clients understand the City’s desire to manage the City’s email archive,” said Paul Nicholas Boylan, the attorney representing the plaintiffs in the CPRA enforcement lawsuit. “But the City’s interest can’t violate the public’s fundamental right to access public records. The City’s plan to destroy these emails after my clients have asked to see them is like a librarian burning down an entire library because a member of the public has asked to check out and read one book,” Boylan said. “It is unthinkable that this might actually happen.”

As noted in news reports of an ongoing trial in Sacramento Superior Court, public officials have deleted records even after legal notifications to preserve those same records. Eye On Sacramento supports Richard Stevenson and Katy Grimes in their lawsuit to enforce the California Public Records Act and their application for a restraining order to prevent the City of Sacramento from destroying public records.

“Eye On Sacramento is focused on transparency and citizen access to all mechanisms of government. Deletion of public records is contrary to the principles of Open Government and the public’s right to know.” Erik Smitt, Policy Director.

Open Government … transparent, responsive, accountable!

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The Rise of Civic Tech

The world of local government is changing.  With the advent of “Civic Tech,” we are seeing rapid innovation and advances in open government and community engagement.  The change is happening globally, nationally and locally here in Sacramento.  It’s an exciting time for those who believe that local government is, and must remain, the servant of the people, not its master.

The Rise of Civic Tech – The Atlantic Cities