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City officials say ‘non-essential’ messages deleted for storage space, professionalism

CITY GOVERNMENT

BROOKE SELF
STAFF WRITER
Posted Oct. 2, 2014 @ 5:17 pm
Updated Oct 2, 2014 at 5:26 PM

ADELANTO — Adelanto officials confirmed Thursday that city employees were told to delete some emails from their inboxes on Wednesday, but city officials said they do not believe they’ve violated a state law requiring public records to be kept for two years.

City Manager Jim Hart said that City Clerk Cindy Herrera told department heads in their weekly meeting to delete “non-essential” emails due to storage issues.

San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department Capt. Phil Brown said he was in the city staff meeting, and the message was a reminder to staff to keep emails professional.

“Cindy (Herrera) was the one who raised it in a staff meeting yesterday,” Hart said. “There’s no way we could possibly retain two years’ worth of emails. We don’t have enough storage space for that. That was the problem. Anything that’s important obviously was kept, if it had to do with projects or city issues.”

Hart said the “unimportant peripheral stuff that goes back and forth” is what Herrera told staff could be erased. He cited examples such as setting up lunch appointments or birthday dinners.

Under California Government Code 34090, public entities are required to retain public records — including electronic records such as emails — for at least two years. Written approval of the City Council and City Attorney is also required for the destruction of records.

“I don’t think so,” Hart said when asked if he thought deleting the emails was a violation of state law. “It’s not really related to what I’ll call city business. The city attorney was on the phone when we were talking about that. He didn’t say, ‘Oh no, don’t do that.’ I have to assume that if we were going to do something that was inappropriate, (he would have said something).”

Adelanto City Attorney Todd Litfin said he didn’t believe the advisement made by the City Clerk included emails that were defined as public records. He said there are many exceptions to the Public Records Act related to what information is considered public.

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