I have given answers below in red from my perspective as City Manager.
From: firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Monday, January 12, 2015 11:14 AM
To: Green, Allen; Bastian, Drew; Ford, Bob; Burnette, Don; Stiltner, Scott; Harden, David; Roberts, Margaret
Subject: City Manager Email Policy and Procedure | What Defines “City Business”?
This communication is for the purpose of clarification and gaining a clearer understanding of emails to the City Manager, and requests for research. Hopefully, you will answer the questions below so we may reach that goal.
According to the City of Port Orange website: “In an effort to increase transparency in government, the City Managers e-mails are now accessible online. The link http://www.port-orange.org provides view only access to incoming e-mail received by the City Manager. Each e-mail is reviewed for exemptions pursuant to Florida Statutes Chapter 119. Any exempt or confidential information found is redacted from this system. Hard copies of those e-mails once redacted may be obtained from the City Clerk’s Office. The e-mail may be viewed only and cannot be forwarded, replied to, or deleted.”
1. Does the City of Port Orange have policies and procedures in place for what is appropriate content for any written correspondence (emails and letters) to all members of Port Orange government and employees of the City of Port Orange? If not, is it something to consider and implement? The City has policies in place which regulate the content of e-mails written by City Employees. We cannot control what is sent to us.
2. Are there any policies and procedures in place that constitute a legitimate “city business” request for information? If not, why not and something to consider? If a written or digital record exists, the City must provide it in response to any request. We are not required to create a report which does not already exist, nor are we required to do research in response to an information request. The guidance I have given staff is that if we know the answer to a question and can answer it immediately without having to do research, then we should answer it. However, if answering the question would require us to do research, then we do not need to answer the request.
3. Granted the information I quoted above stipulates review for exemptions pursuant to Florida Statutes Chapter 119 and confidential information is redacted. Yet, day after day, month after month, year after year, there are dozens upon dozens of emails to the City Manager that have nothing to do with city business. Keeping “Freedom of Speech” in mind there is a huge difference between city business and communicating for the purpose of a personal agenda without a single fact or documentation to back up the words and personal agenda of the email author. Therefore, does the City of Port Orange ever review emails and redact them because the content is not for the purpose of city business, but rather to gossip, assume, and pass innuendo, i.e. are there any accountability standards and practices in place for what is appropriate content? No If not, why not? When a former City Manager decided to post all his e-mails on line there were no guidelines or limitations established. Again, something to consider and implement? Yes, if we continue to post these e-mails on line.
4. When the City of Port Orange receives a research request (which I believe is called an FOI) are any of the following charged to the requestor? Again, if not, why not and something to consider and implement? I believe this has been answered by the City Attorney or City Clerk. Again, we are only required to provide records which exist. We are not required to do research to answer questions when there is not existing record or answer.
A. Full labor rate of employee(s) doing the research/completing the request?
B. In the event overtime is involved is the overtime rate charged as well?
C. Management oversight at management rate of salary for time?
D. A per request flat rate service fee (example $25 or $30 per request) for use of electricity, electronics, technology, copying etc.?
Sincere thanks to all of you for your valuable time and any answers!
With kind regards,
Ron and Nancy Kendrick
Port Orange, FL