Council Opposes More Sunshine on Employee Communications

Three years ago, San Jose adopted a policy that allows for the disclosure of elected officials’ text messages and emails regarding city business when sent from personal devices. However, this week City Council voted unanimously in closed session to appeal a judge’s ruling that would make the policy apply to all city employees.

In the past, Mayor Chuck Reed played a large role in bringing sunshine to the city rules regarding transparency. He felt strongly that communication about city business in any form should be disclosed. But Reed has since changed his tune.

Reed thinks the judge’s ruling is “too broad and sets up practical problems,” reports the San Jose Mercury News. Reed suggests that managing a small group of elected officials is an easier task. But he has concerns that managing requests for information about the city’s entire workforce is “invasive and burdensome.”

Peter Scheer, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, tells the Merc that he’s confident the initial ruling will be affirmed, which would make the policy a set standard for San Jose.

The case will be watched statewide. Open government advocates say that the issue has become a “gaping hole” in public records law, because it was written in the “typewriter era.”


  1. Of course public officials intentionally use private e-mail and telephones to circumvent public records laws. Just ask Smith, Sharma and Liu.

    I do agree that it’s really not the job of government entities to be responsible for collecting private e-mail texts and the like though.  I think what makes sense is for public officials and public employees to be responsible for responding to public records requests on their private accounts.  Failure to make a good faith attempt to comply or outright lying should be treated like perjury.

    There should probably also be a reasonableness threshold for these requests too.

  2. You guys are becoming just like “The Merc” slanted. This Council doesnt Oppose “More Sunshine” it Opposes ANY “Sunshine” . and that is Laughable because its the Platform that this Mayor ran on “Sunshine Reform” Open Government” . This Mayor and Council believe in rules……………For everybody except themselves. They couldnt be bothered with such trivial things .

  3. “to broad and sets up practical problems” Really?

    Is there any end to this guy’s Hypocrisy?

    Yes Chuck! Sunshine can have practical problems, such as skin cancer, but we all still need Sunshine. We can thrive healthily without it.

    Then…in the ultimate act of defiance, arrogance and hypocrisy, the entire Council votes in “Closed Door Session” to appeal the Courts ruling.

    ” The Government that you elect is the Government that you deserve” ENJOY!

    When will we say enough is enough?  IF NOT NOW!  WHEN?

  4. The Meyer its by no means a fan of Chuck Reed but in this he is fighting the good fight.  Too bad his loosing track record in court doesn’t help this cause.  What Reed is opposed to here is making phone records and private emails of ALL public employees subject to review . By ‘ALL’ the judges ruling could be interpreted to mean police officers, fire fighters, librarians, , teachers, doctors, lawyers, judges …. It is as impractical as it is too broad.

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