County e-mails seem to be too non-public | Information, Sports activities, Jobs

County e-mails seem to be too non-public | Information, Sports activities, Jobs

County e-mails seem to be too non-public | Information, Sports activities, Jobs

OBSERVER Picture through Gregory Beaverbrook
Pictured are participants of the Chautauqua County Legislature.

A central authority watchdog workforce is criticizing counties that experience their legislators use non-public emails for public industry, one thing Chautauqua County does however would possibly trade someday.

The New York Coalition for Open Executive Inc. lately introduced that it despatched 18 counties a Freedom of Knowledge request to procure a duplicate in their coverage referring to using non-public e-mail accounts when undertaking county industry. Chautauqua County was once now not certainly one of them, even supposing Cattaraugus and Allegany counties have been. The opposite counties despatched FOIL requests have been Broome, Clinton, Delaware, Franklin, Madison, Nassau, Oswego, Otsego, Rensselaer, Rockland, Seneca, Schenectady, Schoharie, Suffolk, Westchester, and Yates.

In line with the coalition, 11 counties supplied a duplicate in their e-mail coverage, 5 counties replied that they don’t have an e-mail coverage and two counties by no means replied.

The coalition added that 33% of the counties they reviewed didn’t publish e-mail addresses for elected legislators/supervisors, which failed to let them resolve if elected officers are the usage of a non-public e-mail account to habits public industry.

In line with the coalition, Cattaraugus County reported that it does now not have a coverage referring to e-mail. Of its 17 county legislators, M. Andrew Burr used and James Joseph Snyder Jr. used, whilst all others use

Chautauqua County has 19 legislators. At the county’s website online, below “legislators” are all 19 legislators. Every legislator has indexed a telephone quantity and an e-mail hyperlink. Not one of the e-mail hyperlinks use, which all county staff use, together with different elected officers, the county government, sheriff, district legal professional and clerk.

Actually, of the nineteen legislators in Chautauqua County, 10 use a gmail account, 3 use windstream, two use netsync, one makes use of roadrunner, one makes use of hotmail, one makes use of yahoo and one makes use of msn.

The coalition is extremely crucial of any elected reliable the usage of non-public e-mail addresses. “Accomplishing public industry via a non-public e-mail account is a nasty apply as it is vital that such communications be archived and preserved as governmental data matter to the Freedom of Knowledge Regulation,” the coalition wrote in its record. “This record known six counties the place legislators/supervisors are the usage of non-public e-mail accounts to habits public industry. Each and every municipality will have to have a coverage in position that prohibits the usage of non-public e-mail accounts for undertaking public industry.”

The New York Coalition For Open Executive is constituted of newshounds, activists, lawyers, educators, information media and anxious electorate who price executive transparency and freedom of knowledge rules. Thru schooling and civic engagement, the coalition advocates for open, clear executive and defends electorate’ proper to get entry to data from public establishments on the town, county, and state ranges.

“We imagine that, if executive is of the folks, through the folks and for the folks, it will have to even be open to the folks. Executive exists to serve its electorate, so get entry to to public data will have to be easy. New York’s Freedom of Knowledge and Open Conferences Regulation make get entry to to public data a proper,” the coalition states. “We, the folks, can dangle our elected officers accountable when executive operates overtly and truthfully. The New York Coalition For Open Executive works to be sure that all other people have complete get entry to to executive data and court cases at the town, county, and state ranges. Such get entry to fosters responsive, responsible executive, stimulates civic involvement and builds believe in executive.”

Paul Wolf serves because the coalition’s president. He said that many legislators are part-time politicians with different jobs. Nonetheless, he mentioned that doesn’t excuse them from the usage of executive e-mail accounts.

“It’s vital that the paintings of presidency be accomplished via executive e-mail addresses, so far as archiving and keeping up data for FOIL responses. If any person is the usage of a non-public e-mail deal with, it will get much more tough on the subject of compliance with FOIL requests,” he mentioned throughout a Zoom name with quite a lot of New York media, together with The Publish-Magazine and OBSERVER. “Final analysis, non-public e-mail addresses shouldn’t be used to habits public industry.”

Total, the coalition made seven suggestions following its FOIL requests to the 18 counties. They have been as follows:

¯ The counties that failed to correctly recognize our FOIL request well timed wish to evaluation their FOIL procedure. (Nassau, Oswego, Rensselaer, Schoharie, Seneca)

¯ Two counties asked that we make the most of their shape for our FOIL request, which isn’t in line with the regulation and their apply of doing so will have to finish. (Clinton and Suffolk)

¯ The elected officers known on this record the usage of a non-public e-mail account to habits public industry will have to forestall doing so.

¯ Counties that don’t publish e-mail addresses for elected officers will have to achieve this. (Delaware, Madison, Nassau, Schenectady, Schoharie and Westchester)

¯ Counties that wouldn’t have an e-mail coverage prohibiting using non-public e-mail accounts for undertaking public industry will have to put in force one. (Cattaraugus, Oswego, Otsego, Seneca)

¯ Counties that experience a coverage in position prohibiting using non-public e-mail accounts for undertaking public industry wish to put in force their coverage. (Clinton, Franklin)

¯ New York State must create an entity with the ability to observe compliance with and to put in force the regulation.


After the coalition issued its record, The Publish-Magazine/OBSERVER despatched an e-mail to County Govt PJ Wendel, Legislature Chairman Pierre Chagnon and county legal professional Stephen Abdella asking if Chautauqua County has a coverage referring to legislator emails.

In line with Abdella, the county is inside its prison rights, permitting lawmakers to make use of non-public emails. “There is not any prison prohibition towards county legislators the usage of non-public e-mail accounts to habits public industry, however such emails are matter to FOIL like every other e-mail communique associated with county industry,” he mentioned.

Nonetheless, the county would possibly make a transformation someday. “I’ve consulted with Chairman Chagnon and County Govt Wendel, and we believe the Coalition’s advice that the most productive apply is to ascertain separate county e-mail accounts for county legislators. I observe that there are some logistics with far off e-mail get entry to that can wish to be addressed within the implementation,” Abdella mentioned.

Chautauqua County’s e-mail coverage was once created in September 2011 and changed in June 2021.

The e-mail coverage states it applies to all e-mail gadget and products and services owned through Chautauqua County, all e-mail account customers/holders at Chautauqua County and all county e-mail data.

The coverage states the next actions are deemed beside the point and are prohibited:

¯ Use of e-mail for unlawful or illegal functions, together with copyright infringement, obscenity, prison, slander, fraud, defamation, plagiarism, harassment, intimidation, forgery, impersonation, inquiring for unlawful pyramid schemes, and pc tampering.

¯ Use of e-mail that in any respect violates Chautauqua County’s insurance policies, laws or administrative orders.

¯ Sending of unreasonably huge e-mail attachments.

¯ Opening e-mail attachments or links from unknown or unsigned resources.

¯ Sharing e-mail account passwords with someone else or making an attempt to procure someone else’s e-mail account password.

¯ Over the top non-public use of Chautauqua County e-mail assets.

In line with the followed e-mail coverage, the county has the fitting to observe any and all e-mail visitors passing via its e-mail gadget. As well as, backup copies of e-mail messages would possibly exist, in spite of end-user deletion, in compliance with Chautauqua County’s data retention coverage.

The coverage states that if the county discovers or has just right explanation why to suspect actions that don’t conform to appropriate rules or this coverage, mail data is also retrieves and used to record the job.

“Use excessive warning when speaking confidential or delicate data by the use of e-mail. Remember the fact that all e-mail messages despatched out of doors of Chautauqua County grow to be the valuables of the receiver. Any allegations of misuse will have to be promptly reported in your speedy manager. In case you obtain an offensive e-mail, don’t ahead, delete or respond to the message. As an alternative, record it immediately to the person names above,” the coverage reads.

In line with the coverage, Chautauqua County assumes no legal responsibility for direct and/or oblique damages coming up from the person’s use of Chautauqua County’s e-mail gadget and products and services. Customers are only chargeable for content material they disseminate.

The present coverage does now not deal with legislators’ use of personal emails.

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