Capital Article

Huang, Cindy, Senator wants to strengthen open meetings law, Capital, January 5, 2016.

Snider Comment

I’ve written several opeds on the email retention games that AACPS plays (see Washington Post, “Maryland’s Fake Open Government,” and Baltimore Sun, “The Clinton email scandal: a double standard?”)  Technically, Bob Mosier’s comments are correct. In practice, they ignore the many loopholes that make a mockery of the intent of the email backup system.

Consider some facts: 1) AACPS doesn’t have a written email retention policy; it only has a de facto operational backup policy, 2) Public Information Act (PIA) requests to Mosier to see a copy of that operational backup policy haven’t resulted in responsive records, 3) there are no penalties for an AACPS employee to delete a controversial email in response to a PIA request; this includes transferring a controversial email from a work to personal email account, 4) there is no independent enforcement mechanism (unlike, say, the Hillary Clinton email case) if an employee deletes or transfers such an email), 5) AACPS employees have an implicit fiduciary duty to delete or transfer controversial emails in response to a PIA request, 6) the PIA provides 30 days to fulfill a PIA request but that limit isn’t enforced and is also full of loopholes, and 7) if an employee deletes controversial emails upon receiving a PIA request for them, the recycling of backup tapes every 30 days means that it’s easy to delete any meaningful centralized backup record of them. As for non-controversial emails such as email records that document an assertion AACPS staff want verified, the backup system works well.

The dispute here is solely about how the email retention system works for potentially controversial emails that employees, especially high level ones, want to keep control over. For documentation of these various claims, see