At the Vermilion City Council Meeting on Monday, March 2, 2020 Mayor Forthofer stated that in the past, both the Law Director and the IT Advisors have explained that it is advisable for City Council members to use a City email account for City and Council related business.
“Our LifeCare IT Department told the Finance Director and me that it is time to purchase Microsoft licenses for Council,” said the mayor. “I ask that Council advise the Administration whether members will be using city email.”
Council Member Frank Loucka asked how the city council emails would work – would council need to go to the City Council office to read their emails?
Mayor Forthofer said the emails could be accessed from their home computer.
Kenneth Stumphauzer, Law Director, said he sent Council a copy of the Supreme Court case where someone made a public records request on private email accounts, which may have been related to city business. The Supreme Court opined those public records.
“If Council uses their private email for city business, but 90% of it is related to private business, the question becomes whether you must produce all of it,” said Stumphauzer. “Council's argument would be no - but the person requesting the public record would say, 'Well, how do we know what you deleted?' This makes it a lot cleaner to use a city email strictly for city business, so they don't have to worry about this issue. Why face the problem if they don't have to?”
Steve Herron, Council President, said this was mentioned to City Council and he never followed up on this and they probably should have.
Mayor Forthofer said the licenses have come around again, so therefore he brought it up so they can decide whether they will move forward in purchasing the licenses for everyone or not.
Herron said this is ultimately for everyone's protection, including the taxpayer who has a right to public records.
“A city licensed email will be better for all parties involved, and I feel this is something we should do,” said Herron.
Council Member Steave Holovacs agreed this would be the best thing to do.
Herron said from his perspective most of their communications are done on the Council floor, other than if there is a cancellation for weather or something like that.
Gwen Fisher, Municipal Clerk, said technically she is the one who sends a lot of information to City Council.
Herron said most of their emails is from citizens who are asking questions.
Herron moved; Stark seconded, to authorize the Administration to obtain licenses required to implement City Council emails. Roll Call Vote 5 YEAS. MOTION CARRIED.