Feds: City to stop destroying documents
September 01, 2010 5:36 PM
Brooke Edwards

VICTORVILLE • The Securities and Exchange Commission has ordered the city not to destroy or alter any records, as the federal agency’s investigation into Victorville’s bond offerings moves forward.

The SEC also issued subpoenas for three Victorville officials to answer questions under oath related to those bonds. As of Wednesday evening, spokeswoman Monica Petersen said they were still waiting on word from the city’s personnel attorney as to whether they could release the names of those who were sent notices of deposition, concerned “it could be seen as stigmatizing.”

The law enforcement agency sent its first subpoena to City Hall in mid-August, giving Victorville until Aug. 20 to provide a slew of documents related to its roughly $480 million in bond offerings. While some documents were sent by that day, city officials said they had to request more time to fully comply.

“The SEC required each page to be individually labeled, numbered and scanned electronically using optical character recognition software, on a total of over 77,000 pages,” an e-mailed explanation from Deputy City Manager Doug Robertson said. “Because of the time required for this labor-intensive process, the SEC consented to receiving the document production in two phases.”

Robertson said the second and final batch of documents was being sent to the SEC on Wednesday.

The city has removed all blue recycling bins and paper shredders from staff offices to ensure records aren’t being destroyed, insiders said, in keeping with a letter Robertson said the city attorney got from the SEC this week.

Robertson also sent a memo to staff, insiders said, telling them not to delete any e-mails they receive.

The city approved a policy in 2008 that called for all e-mails sent to staff addresses to be automatically deleted after 30 days. It then would fall to individual staff members to determine what constituted a public record, and to print and file a hard copy of those e-mails before 30 days had passed.

City Clerk Carolee Bates said that policy was never rescinded, but that it was also never implemented.

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Brooke Edwards may be reached at (760) 955-5358 or at bedwards@VVDailyPress.com.