Monday, April 19, 2010

Clifton assigns official e-mail addresses to Mayor and Council

As a result of my March 19, 2010 request, the City of Clifton has assigned official "cliftonnj.org" e-mail addresses to Mayor and City Council members. Previously, the Mayor and Council were using their personal e-mail (e.g. Yahoo or Gmail) addresses for City business.

This is a concern because e-mails sent from or received by a personal account might be lost or accidentally (or intentionally) deleted making them unavailable to a citizen who requests them. But, e-mails sent or received by an official "cliftonnj.org" e-mail address are permanently retained and archived on the City's server and will be available to future OPRA requestors even if the author and recipient delete them from their computers.

This issue with Clifton is not fully resolved because the City has not yet established a policy requiring that only the official e-mail address be used for official business. I wrote to the City Council today requesting that they adopt such a policy.

I have placed my correspondence with Clifton on line here. Please feel free to borrow from it if you would like to work to make your own municipality, school board or other public body establish a policy making it much less likely that important e-mail records will be deleted, lost or otherwise slip through the cracks.

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