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Monday, August 20, 2007

City emails: No protocol, no policy, no problem?

Plainfield city emails have been on my mind lately, especially since U.S. Attorney Christ Christie subpoenaed emails in the investigation into the housing renovation program in Linden earlier this month (as reported by the Ledger) --
[The U.S. Attorney's office] subpoena was all-inclusive, seeking everything from bidding processes used to hire contractors to e-mails and telephone messages from the past five years.

Federal prosecutors issued similar subpoenas last fall to New Brunswick's Neighborhood Preservation Program in an ongoing probe that has resulted in bribery and corruption charges against several officials and contractors.
Every morning when I fire up my laptop to get started with the day's blogging, I find a bounced email with a timestamp of 4:00 AM in my mailbox from a subscriber who uses a '' mailbox.

I have reported earlier on the bounces of emails sent to the '' mailbox on the City's website.

The City has no protocol about email addresses, and since the City website does not post an email directory, one has to track contacts down -- only to find that some are using personal emails, some are using '' webmail, and some have non-working '' email addresses.

This last situation cropped up when Bernice was trying to contact Public Safety Director Martin Hellwig about the Operation CeaseFire program (another story, another time). She used the '' address she had and got no reply. After reading about the story on the blog, Hellwig chided her VIA EMAIL, at which time Bernice discovered he had a different -- and new -- email address.

Who knew?

The city needs consistent email addresses on a working email server. It needs an email policy that lets employees know the boundaries of such things as 'personal' use and what constitutes a public record and must be archived. It ought to publish an email directory as other communities do. It wouldn't hurt to have departmental mailboxes -- we used to have them -- which someone checks on a daily basis and forwards to the responsible party for action/resolution.

And the City should have all this in place in case Chris Christie comes calling.

Otherwise, instead of requiring copies of emails, they will just take away the computers.

And then how will anybody get any work done?

-- Dan Damon

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Anonymous said...

Emails, nothing !! Have you ever looked at the various Floor Legends at City Hall, Annex etc? Some start at the 1st floor skip around and then end in the basement. Let alone give ACCURATE information as the which room # a person/office is located or hours open for public business. [Yes I know we all like to eat lunch, but is it too much to let citizens know what days/hours we may expect to find an INFORMATIVE staff member available and not someone 'just covering the phones' - do not get me started on the voice mail meltdown] PJ