Upon my election as Director of Division 4, I set up a new email account from which I could conduct my official correspondence as a public servant. All communications between elected officials of a public agency and the public are part of the public record. I didn’t want cross over between my personal and public service email accounts.
In the meantime, the General Manager set up an email address for me using the NYWD.org Godaddy domain. I wrote to him and requested that he delete that address and use my new public service email address. I requested that he place my new public service email address on the website. I forwarded the few emails that had come in to the NYWD email address to my new public service address.
The GM responded to my request in an email: ” To avoid any intrusion into your personal email account as a consequence of the San Jose case, the District follows legal counsel’s recommended best practice and issues District email addresses to our Directors. Additionally, using a District-issued email address avoids unnecessary costs and delay if the District receives a PRA request for Director communications and it avoids any question regarding email communications among Directors becoming serial discussions and inadvertently violating the Brown Act.”
I responded back: “I created a new professional email account specifically for my NYWD role as director. If the requirement for a director to have an NYWD e-mail is codified in writing as either a resolution, by-law, or policy – please send that to me. The idea that having an NYWD e-mail address somehow prevents Brown Act violations via serial meetings has no merit. People can create a serial e-mail meeting merely by hitting “Reply All” which can be done through the NYWD email system as easily as through any system.”
Following receipt of the above email and sending my response, I attempted to forward both to my new public service email which I had easily accomplished the previous day. They bounced back immediately prompting me to look more closely. What I saw was this;
Subject: Message Delivery Failure
Date: Fri, January 11, 2019 11:59 am
This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification.
Delivery to the following recipients failed permanently:
Someone had inserted a macro into the “To” cell for outgoing email. The macro recognized my new public service email address and automatically changed the @yahoo.com to .firstname.lastname@example.org thus rendering a nonexistent email address. Any email that I tried to forward “to” my new email account would therefore bounce back. Clearly, someone had gone into the NYWD GOdaddy system as administrator and placed the macro. I wrote to the GM to request the identity of the NYWD IT person.
He responded with the following on January 8, 2019:
“You also asked me for the contact information for the District’s IT vendor. As previously stated in my January 3, 2019, email to you, Resolution 13-701 states that work for the District shall not be performed without the approval of the General Manager. Any time the District’s IT vendor is contacted, the District is invoiced. Additionally, I am the only one who can direct the IT vendor to perform work for the District, based on the direction from the majority of the Board. If the majority of the Board would like for me to direct the IT vendor to perform a task, and the Board approves the charges, I will then direct the IT vendor to do such a task.”
I responded back the same day: “I did not ask for the contact information of the IT entity. I asked for the entity or individual’s identity (their name or the company name). Identity and contact information are two different things, as I am sure you are well aware. A Director is entitled to know the names and identities of subcontractors to NYWD and in what capacity they serve the District. Please provide that identity forthwith. “
On January 18, 2019 (10 days later), I finally received this response to my questions: “In response to your question. The District does not have in its employment a person hired with the title of IT. The District also does not employ or have a contract with any consultant that performs IT functions. If however, you are asking who updates our web page, then that would be Leona and myself.”