Faulconer kills controversial email policy

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Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 11.57.51 AMSAN DIEGO — San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer rescinded Tuesday a proposed policy that would purge city  emails that are more than a year old.

“I reviewed the policy and believe the public’s right to have access to City documents is worth the additional financial cost that will come with retaining these emails. In today’s modern age, I believe San Diego can be a leader in using technology to increase transparency,” Faulconer said in a statement.

According to the mayor’s office, after the new system went online in January, officials had to decide what to do with the vast number of emails stored in two older systems — one of which is plagued by corrupted data. The original plan would have directed the City to start the process of deleting vast amounts of emails beginning March 28.

Faulconer had put the policy on hold soon after open government advocates came out in opposition of the policy, initiated in February by then Interim Mayor Todd Gloria.

Faulconer said in an email statement that it is now working to find the most cost-effective way to store this older data in perpetuity.

Councilman David Alvarez said the email flap was one of two recent failures by the city in providing an open and transparent government.

The other was the refusal of a committee setting up next year’s celebration of Balboa Park’s centennial to release its financial records. The group subsequently disbanded, and the records were made public.

Alvarez, Councilwoman Marti Emerald and former Councilwoman Donna Frye held a news conference to propose a City Charter amendment that would require municipal records — including emails — to be kept for at least two years. That’s the length of time required by state law.

“This ballot measure protects the public’s right of access because it cannot be changed at the whim of the next City Council or mayor that doesn’t like the sunshine,” Frye said. March 16-22 is Sunshine Week, which supports the public’s right to access government records.

The proposal, which they hope to place before voters on the November ballot, would also declare that the city is joint owner of documents created when a vendor does business with the municipal government, and require regular review of policies that restrict public access to city records, among other things.

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