Last week I reported about Modesto’s policy of automatically deleting emails after 30 days, which has drawn complaints that it violates the California Public Records Act.
Here’s a wrinkle to the story: At least one other Stanislaus County city automatically deletes emails. Ceres’ computer system deletes them after 90 days.
“This policy is in place largely because of limited server storage space,” City Manager Art de Werk said in an email. Both cities make copies and keep emails related to city business, and those emails are available through a Public Records Request.
But the First Amendment Coalition has said that puts too much discretion in the hands of city officials and lets them delete emails that would embarrass the city if they were ever made public.
The Public Records Act governs what information local governments must release to the public. The act is important because it’s how the public can learn how much a city is spending on outside attorneys to defend itself in a lawsuit, how much a city has spent on overtime or what it paid to settle a claim filed against it.
I'm still checking on how other local cities handle emails.