San Jose City Clerk Apprentice Takes the Blame for Hilariously Heavy-Handed Redactions

A trainee of San Jose City Clerk Toni Taber went on a bit of a redaction spree last week as the understaffed office prepped for the upcoming City Council session.

Hours before the Sept. 24 meeting, Fly noticed that portions of the letters from the public were inexplicably censored—including city email addresses, names of businesses and organizations and logos. Yes, even logos.

On letters addressed to the council, the brand insignia of [email protected], San Jose Downtown Association and Silicon Valley Organization, to name just a few examples, were entirely obscured by thick black marks.

One of the more outlandish cover-ups came on a letter from StarCity, the San Francisco-based “dorms for adults” builder, which expressed its support for a tax break that would make it easier to get shovels in the ground for an upcoming project.

The unnamed city clerk apprentice haphazardly blacked out what appeared to be both the name and address of the StarCity project. Ironically, both were listed for all the world to see in a memo on the same agenda from Economic Development Director Kim Walesh and Housing Director Jacky Morales-Ferrand.

Fly knew enough to decipher most of the obscured details, but reached out to Taber to find out why anyone felt the need to keep such obviously innocuous and obviously public information a secret. “I have a new person,” Taber replied in an email, “and she redacted a little more than we usually do. I’ve talked with her about it.”

David Snyder, the executive director for free speech non-profit First Amendment Coalition, was unamused. “I don’t know of any basis for withholding the name of an organization that has submitted a letter to a public entity,” he remarked when asked about the odd redactions. “That’s important for the public to understand where objections are coming from or where support was coming from.”

Since Fly flagged the issue, the clerk’s office has relaxed its grip on the digital Sharpie.

It took a little detective work—like scrolling down to see the name of the organization's well-known CEO Jennifer Loving—to decipher the fact that this letter came from social services nonprofit Destination:Home. (Source: City of San Jose)

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7 Comments

    • Must NOT have been working for Donald and Bill. This one was smart enough not to use the black highlighter function in PDF.

  1. Because if people express a minority opinion there email address is blocked. I for one don’t want to be abused by leftist crazies because I dared to disagree with the Party Line – as in Democratic Party line.

  2. Better than SJI, where if there is one “offending” word in a post, based on its ultra PC bias, the entire post is denied publication

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