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Group Asks City To Delay Deleting Emails

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

Erik Smitt of Eye On Sacramento holds a storage unit he says would hold at least 10 million emails. The group spent $65 on it and gave it to the City of Sacramento, along with a request to delay deletion of millions of old emails.

Bob Moffitt / Capital Public Radio

UPDATE: The City of Sacramento announced Wednesday that it will delay the deletion of transitory email until July 8. The group Eye On Sacramento had previously requested that the city review its policy on email deletion.

The city released the following statement:

"On June 25, 2015 the City received two public record requests that included requests for email that would have possibly been destroyed in the planned implementation of the two-year retention policy on transitory email. I take each of the over 3000 public records requests the Clerk's office processes each year seriously. The Office of the City Clerk has and remains committed to working with requestors to provide responsive records. The destruction of transitory email scheduled for July 1 has been postponed until July 8; as my office engages in an interactive process to find common ground between City and the requestor's legal counsel to satisfy the record requests.

There is significant amount of misinformation circulating regarding the upcoming implementation of the two-year retention policy on transitory email. It is not the City's intent or direction to staff to delete ALL email older than two-years old. Staff, just as they have been doing for years with paper records and in compliance with the City's Records Management Program, will retain email that qualifies as a record. The majority of email is transitory in nature, not rising to the level of a record. These emails will be deleted after two years. Emails deemed to be a record will be held greater than two years as specified by the retention schedule. This is a very liberal policy, and more than exceeds California Government Code 34090 which does not require local jurisdictions to keep non-record material for any specified time. The two-year retention set for transitory email far exceeds the retention of most cities and the requirements of the California Government Code."

-Shirley Concolino, City Clerk

Original Post:

The City of Sacramento is planning to delete millions of emails written or received by city employees more than two years ago.

The group Eye On Sacramento is calling for a delay in the deletions.

Erik Smitt is the policy director for the group. He says there are free or cheap ways to store the emails.

"We could let Google store it," says Smitt. "They'd be happy to store it for us forever. The net effect of the city's actions is to preclude public record request activity on anything they've deleted."

Eye On Sacramento says two people have made Public Record Act requests for emails that are scheduled to be deleted.

Smitt was at City Hall with a present Monday -- a blank storage drive covered in red, white, and blue bows.  He says the drive's capacity is a terabyte or at least 10 million emails.

"Anything they feel is not important and is two years old will be deleted and those associated with projects that are still ongoing would be held for two years following the conclusion of the project," he says.

Emails are to be deleted two years after creation unless they are related to an ongoing project, court case or another claim.

City policy says the staff of each department will decide which emails should be saved and the City Clerk's office will provide a cost estimate for storage. 

No one from the city clerk’s office was available to comment.

Bob Moffitt

Sacramento Region Reporter

Bob reports on all things northern California and Nevada. His coverage of police technology, local athletes, and the environment has won a regional Associated Press and several Edward R. Murrow awards.   Read Full Bio 

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