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The FOI Advocate is a compendium of ideas, edited story excerpts and other materials from a variety of Web sites, as well as original concepts and analysis. When the information comes directly from another source, it will be attributed and a link will be provided whenever possible. The blog relies on the accuracy and integrity of the original sources cited. We will correct errors and inaccuracies when we become aware of them.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Two Different Approaches to Email Use During City Council Meetings

First, let's start with an example of what not to do, brought to us by Seattle's komonews.com:

A Kirkland City, Washington city council member has admitted to using city email for personal use, including lewd conversations with his girlfriend. Discovered during a records request from conservative watchdog group, Evergreen Freedom Foundation, Bob Sternoff's emails reveal he was having racy conversations with his girlfriend while city council was in session.

The Kirkland City council voted to have a law firm investigate the emails, but they could stand a lesson from South Haven in southwest Michigan.

South Haven City Clerk Amanda Morgan addressed the City Council regarding the need for a new policy regarding electronic communications during meetings, including emails between council members and city residents.

In an effort to comply with the spirit of the Michigan Open Meetings Act, the proposed new policy is to discourage email use during the meetings and to use an "office assistant" feature to direct incoming emails to the city clerk during city meetings. Others suggest the policy doesn't go far enough and that emailing during a public meeting should be outlawed.

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