Donna Frye, President of Californians Aware and a former member of San Diego’s City Council, has for the third time in two years represented CalAware last week in asking the council’s Rules Committee to recommend a charter amendment ballot measure—or at least a council-passed ordinance—declaring that all emails and other digital communications used by city officials to conduct city business are presumed to be accessible to the public, even if created, sent or received on private computers, tablets or smartphones.
Frye’s slide explanation of why the policy is needed—among other things, to avoid easy and undetectible violations of the Brown Act—is shown here, as well as a video of her presentation and committee reactions shown as item 3 here. The committee resolved to give the proposal further analysis from the city attorney and comment from other city sources and have some version of it back for a vote by June.
In Frye’s first two attempts, the city attorney expressed enough misgivings about a much broader proposal to give committee members desired cover in sidelining it. Yesterday, however, that office issued a memo to the committee concluding that with one modification, there would be no legal impediment to prompt adoption of the policy as an ordinance and placing it on the June ballot for voter approval—to ensure that future voter approval would be needed to amend or repeal it. The modification would be to exempt employees represented by a labor bargaining unit unless and until their inclusion had been approved in the meet and confer process required by state law. Otherwise, the policy would apply to elected and appointed officers of the city as well has management employees.