Late Monday afternoon (May 6) I accompanied Selectman Martha Gjesteby and her husband, Arne to the selectmen’s chambers where Martha was permitted to see the emails from her public account that had been given to citizen Chris Allen on a public documents request dated April 25.
Allen told acting town manager Mike Milanoski he wanted all emails between Gjesteby, Tanna Kasperowicz, Ronnie McMorris, former town manager Mike Coughlin and Karen Quigley.
The search produced 11 emails, one between Ronnie McMorris and Gjesteby, 0 between Coughlin and Quigley, and the other 10 were from Tanna Kasperowicz (me). Everything Chris Allen paid for had been on my blog.
Milanoski is supposed to have a vote of the board of selectmen before any gathering of e-mails from their public accounts.
* Milanoski did not have a vote from the board of selectmen, of course they haven’t had a meeting since April 22.
* No one selectmen, and certainly not the town manager, has the power to bind the Board of Selectmen. That only comes from a majority vote.
* Milanoski did not inform Gjesteby of Allen’s request until late last week.
* Gjesteby recently hired her own IT who told her that her private e-mail and public email accounts had been hacked.
* Gjesteby reported the hacking on May 6 to acting police chief Bill Quigley after having alerted the District Attorney’s office.
* Milanoski did inform town counsel of the letter he was going to read and deliver to Gjesteby at his 2:30 p.m. meeting with her and her husband, but town counsel did not have time to advise Milanoski of any changes. It must be town counsel’s fault that he cannot turn advice on a dime.
At the commencement of the meeting with Gjesteby and her husband, Milanoski told the couple, in a prepared, written statement that he read to them:
“We have complied with the Public Records request from Mr. Allen on the town side for emails backed up on the Town server and have redacted as required. However, you will need to print out any emails on the Town Account you have received from the time you were elected to the end of August 2012. Our new Chief Technology Officer (hired in summer of 2012) was able to program the serve to begin storing emails in August so you will need to print out any emails from Ronnie McMorris, Mike Coughlin, Karen Quigley and Tanna Kasperowicz that are stored on your computer prior to then.
Also, since you have also used another account for town related business that is not backed up on the town server (this may be in violation to (sic) state records retention regulations), you will need to print those emails out from the date of your election as requested in the public records request. I have spoken to the Public Records Division of the Secretary of State today to confirm these emails sent to/from (the couple’s private email address) are subject to the public records law, that I have followed the correct process for releasing the existing emails. Also, these public emails you are storing will need to be processed as soon as possible subject to state approved privileged exemptions. (Editors note: Huh?) According to the secretary of State: It is the responsibility of government employees and elected officials, who create, receive and maintain public records to ensure their safekeeping and availability to the public. ”
While it is true that any emails that find themselves in any selectmen’s public account are public, it is not true at all that emails in any selectmen’s personal email account must be made public upon a public information request. But, it is true that Milanoski, via his garbled document and his misunderstanding of the public records law, told Gjesteby she must comply immediately.
In order to entertain looking at a selectman’s personal e-mail account the board of selectmen must have some proof that the selectman is involved in wrongdoing. And then they must convince a judge.
What is doing business with the town? Let’s say someone wants a liquor license, and they are offering to pay a selectman large sums of money for it, or public officials are discussing among themselves, via e-mails, ways to overthrow the conservation commission, or are plotting with a private concern to take over the town’s water supply, or are plotting through personal emails to fire the town manager and replace him with someone more to their liking.
It would seem the acting town manager has already snubbed his nose at the newly enacted Town Manager Act amendment. While it has not yet been blessed by the Commonweatlh, we were asked to adopt its mood and tense at town meeting.
The new 5B (h) says:
(h) The town manager shall have access to all information necessary for the proper performance of the duties of town manager in accordance with the town bylaws, not including however attorney-client privileged information which is provided to or by the board of selectmen, unless the board specifically authorizes such access.
Notwithstanding the preceding sentence, the town manager and any person acting under his supervision, direction, or control shall have no authority to access the electronic communications of any town officer or employee, or information maintained in a personal work area or computer of any such officer or employee, unless such access has been approved in advance by the board of selectmen or by a member designated by the board to act on such matters.
Did the board of selectmen vote to give Milanoski permission to access Gjesteby’s town email account? Definitley not. Milanoski jumped the gun again.
Citizen Chris Allen may think it would be interesting to learn what scintillating conversations Gjesteby has with others on her private email account. But when it comes to private conversations, there’s a difference between need to know and want to know.
Free Martha from two more years of harassment
Vote for Karen Quigley and Russ Bonetti on May 11.© Copyright 2013 Tanna K, All rights Reserved. Written For: Tinytown Unleashed