|(January 6, 2019, 9:05 a.m.) -- Former 5th district City Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske has emailed City Attorney Charles Parkin urging withdrawal of a
"The index of those records indicate that there are many boxes of files going back to 2006 when I took office," Ms. Schipske wrote in a Jan. 5 email to City Attorney Parkin. "I hereby request that the Council item be withdrawn and that the City Clerk disclose the content of each specific document in those boxes," Ms. Schipske wrote. She voiced particular displeasure that, according to Schipske, a then-Deputy City Attorney indicated in a 2016 deposition (when the City was defending itself in a sidewalk trip-and-fall lawsuit) that the City didn't have records that Schipske had testified her office had retained. "Imagine my surprise when I was informed that on Tuesday, January 8, the City Clerk has placed several items on the Consent Agenda requesting the Council authorization to destroy records of among other departments, the 5th Council District. The index of those records indicate that there are many boxes of files going back to 2006 when I took office."
The agendizing memo (nominally by the City Clerk) states "The City Attorney and the Legislative Department concur in the above recommendation." LB's City Charter designates the Mayor as chief administrative officer of the Legislative Department. The authorization to destroy the 5th Council district records was signed by 5th district incumbent Councilmember Stacy Mungo, paralleling authorizations for destruction of 2nd and 4th district records by their respective incumbents Jeannine Pearce and Daryl Supernaw. Department heads signed authorizations for destruction of their respective department's records.
The Jan. 8 agendizing memos provide no reason(s) for the proposed records destruction; they simply recite that "Pursuant to Section 34090 of the California Government Code and Chapter 1.28 of the Long Beach Municipal Code, records destruction for City Manager departments and elected officials must be submitted to the City Council for approval. The records destruction must comply with each department's records retention schedule."
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On Jan. 4, LBREPORT.com was first (again) to report that the Council's Jan 8 agenda includes three items seeking approval to destroy records at least six years old and in some cases older, from the offices of LB's now-former 2nd, 4th and 5th district City Councilmembers and various categories of records (detailed in LBREPORT.com coverage here) from the City's Financial Management and Economic Development Departments (the latter including those of LB's now-dissolved Redevelopment Agency.)
The Jan. 8 Council agenda consists almost entirely of "consent calendar" items, which the Council can approve on a single Council vote without discussion unless a Councilmember requests otherwise. Public speakers are allowed three minutes each to speak on all consent calendar items combined.
Although records destruction items aren't unusual, seeking authorization to destroy the records of LB elected officials isn't common and the extent of record destruction sought for LB's Financial Management and Economic Development Departments -- in some cases erasing up to thirty years of LB history -- is noteworthy.
Scheduling the records destruction items for the shorter-than-usual
The Jan. 8 records destruction items follow Council approval (via a consent calendar item) scheduled for the Council's final meeting of 2018 (Dec. 18, a week before Christmas) that approved destruction of decades of LBPD records days before a new state law would have made them publicly accessible (LBREPORT.com coverage here.
In December 2016, LBREPORT.com requested certain emails from former Councilwoman Schipske regarding a LB Airport matter. In February 2017, the City's Records Coordinator informed LBREPORT.com that "Schipske's electronic mailbox was deleted 30 days after her term ended." LBREPORT.com subsequently learned in March 2017 (from a brief mention near the end of a PressTelegram story on Queen Mary maintenance) that City officials had indicated that "all communication [with the city's now-retired economic and property development director] was deleted one month after he retired in August ."
In April 2017, LBREPORT.com confirmed and reported that the City had been been deleting email public records of high level elected and management officials within 30 days of their retirement/exit from City elected or employment positions under the terms of an agreement with a third party email-management vendor. The City Attorney's office informed LBREPORT.com at that time that the emails were deleted under a City Hall approved contract with a third party entity, entered into by the City at some time in or after 2014.
LBREPORT.com also learned and reported that a Microsoft software system, which the City contracted to license through with a third-party vendor, allows archiving and retention -- or deletion -- of public record emails and related documents in a manner decided by the user, in this case, by the City of Long Beach. LBREPORT.com noted that as described by Microsoft, the MS 365 system's capabilities indicated the City as licensed user had flexibility and control over its archiving, retention or deletion of emails and documents.
On April 10, 2017, Assistant City Attorney Mike Mais told LBREPORT.com:
In 2014, the City of Long Beach migrated from the Lotus Notes system to MS365 (Outlook/Exchange) as its email solution. The City does not treat the MS365 email system as a records management system. Non-transitory items which are covered under the City's records retention policy require the user to transfer those documents from MS365 to either paper, or another online file store. During migration from the Lotus Notes system to MS365 (Outlook/Exchange) the City looked at industry best practices and standards for email storage of transitory (non-record) items, at which the City contracted with Microsoft for 30-days storage of email when someone leaves City service. If the City were to expand the window of email storage beyond 30 days, the City would incur additional on-going costs for the increase in storage. That said, the City will be reviewing its current policies in the near future to determine if changes are warranted or necessary.
Jan. 8: An earlier version of this story erroneously stated that the Mayor's State of the City message is scheduled after the Jan. 8 Council meeting. It is scheduled for Jan. 15.
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