March 9th, 2017 –
In reading todays article in the Modesto Bee by Kevin Valine regarding the City of Modesto’s email system, I am sad to say that I was not surprised. No, I was not surprised at the behavior of staff and elected officials relating to such a high-profile issue as PERSONAL EMAIL for GOVERNMENT business. You can read the article at the following link (http://www.modbee.com/news/local/news-columns-blogs/kevin-valine/article137343363.html)
How this could be framed as an issue of ignorance is beyond me. The City’s response is disingenuous and misleading.
Set aside the fact that in my tenure as Mayor from 2000-2004 (17 years ago,), it was common knowledge to ONLY use the City’s email system for official business. Access to the City’s email system even then was provided to all via a secure manner. Back then it was a Defacto policy at a minimum, and based on Lindgren’s comment “… Modesto’s policy is that city business should be conducted on the city’s computers and email system” it is clearly official policy now.
Unless your head had been in the sand, the last 20 months (at least) have been dominated by NEWS cycles focused on the very issue of using personal email for government business – for heaven’s sake the FBI stated it was extremely careless at best.
No wonder The City Attorney’s comment was “I’m going to focus my answer on going forward and not going backward,” I can understand why Attorney does not want to look backward as when I was Mayor, staff was routinely asked to delete emails and shred documents.
Another unbelievable excuse came from Councilman Bill Zoslocki “…city’s email is slow and cumbersome. Since when does personal inconvenience or user preferences allow engaging in activities that lead to potential violations of the Brown Act and creating vulnerabilities in the City’s email process? Would not the solution to “slow and cumbersome” be to address the technical issue with the City’s IT Department instead of reckless and questionable behavior.
Finally, and most revealing was the naming of some members of the unelected “shadow government” that have weaved their way into our government institution. The Bee had previously listed Attorney George Petrulakis as an “advisor to the Mayor” – well you can now add Chuck Bryant and PMZ Real Estate CEO Mike Zagaris to the mix.
Looking back as a former Mayor, the City Councilwoman Janice Keating was participating not only on emails, but communicating with George Petrulakis by text during live Council Meetings.
Stay tuned for more on this issue as MORE is to come