SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A plan by the city of San Diego to purge emails that are more than one year old was eliminated by Mayor Kevin Faulconer Tuesday.
Faulconer halted the implementation of the plan soon after he took office on March 3 so he could study the issue. The idea, brought about by the city's switch to a new email system, was criticized by open government advocates.
"My mission is to increase openness and transparency at City Hall, and this is just one of the first steps," Faulconer said. "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."
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 was to begin purging the older documents at the end of next week.
The mayor's office, city IT staff, members of the local tech community and the new email vendor -- Microsoft -- are working on a way to retain the older emails. New cost estimates to store the old emails are being reviewed, with a majority of the expenses expected to be one-time, according to the mayor's office.
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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