Now, I don't agree that the city should be passing any ordinances defining anything to do with compliance with open records requests. Of course, if the attorney general would lay down some rules that protect politicians' privacy, we wouldn't be in this position. It's down right communist to demand access to a politician's private email correspondence because you *think* something interesting might be in there (more on this at the end). But, we find ourselves here.
The El Paso Times' awesome new reporter, Evan Mohl, wrote a piece on the ordinance that you can read HERE. It's well sourced and both sides get their due, but the city inevitably looks bad because they are literally adding a layer of muck instead of adding transparency. The comments section for once reveals something rather interesting - Debbie Nathan's intentions. Go read her words for yourself. I'll even provide a link to her Chuco Leaks article HERE.
Debbie Nathan spent a good amount of time in my mom's office bewildered by the fact that I don't live in El Paso, but still wrote about El Paso. It's a little funny that she now is back in New York all the time and seems to be obsessed with El Paso. However, if you read her comment, she's obsessed with private citizens who don't agree with her politically.
It seems that since the 7,000 emails Nathan went through had exactly zero evidence of illegal activity in them, she's now resorted to trying to track down the thinnest of leads. In this case it's a single email that appears to have been forwarded by Joyce Wilson to Richarda Momsen (who deserves a million bucks and our everlasting adoration for what she puts up with). I got the same email and a very similar one from two different people who are about as innocuous as a citizen could be. Far from ankle biters, they're just a couple of senior citizens who attend things from time to time and have an opinion. Far from being "connected" they're just looking to be involved even if it means just showing up at meetings.
Wilson sends on the emails in their entirety to Momsen knowing full well that the public could at anytime get a hold of the emails. Wilson makes no demands of Momsen. Wilson simply tells Momsen that they were sent to her and that she has no idea if they are even actionable. Momsen is left to do with the emails what she pleases.
Let's stop for a second and look at what has happened here. A concerned citizen felt they were almost tricked into signing something they didn't want to sign. That citizen also said they didn't think the notary requirement for the petitions was being met. I'm trying to figure out what's wrong with a citizen voicing a concern to the city manager over what is clearly "city business."
Does the use of the pronoun "we" raise an eyebrow as to how well they know Wilson and where she might stand on the issue? Yes. However, that's no big deal when you realize that the person who wrote that email always assumes the person they are writing agrees with them. It has been a bone of contention between us for a while. I find myself often responding "don't use 'we' because I don't agree."
Bottom line - Joyce Wilson was forwarding on a citizen's concern over city business. How is this a crime? Isn't this what you want from city staff? If you send an email saying "this stinks, look into it!" you'd expect them to do something about it, right? Right.
Nathan makes it clear that she wants to expose the emailers. Her goal is to expose these two private citizens so that they can suffer the wrath of Four Names Allala, Norma Chavez and anyone else who has declared war on progress in El Paso. Debbie Nathan seeks to shame private citizens because she couldn't find public officials doing anything wrong.
What did the two emailers do wrong? Nothing. They suggested that the petitioners were trying to trick folks and that there may be a problem with the notarization of the petitions. Momsen disagreed on the notary part and didn't even comment on the other part because that's not in her purview. What does Nathan have to gain here other than the names of two citizens who were incorrect?
Seriously, what kind of evil person wants to expose two old people who are worried about a petition that wasn't even written in a manner that is useful as a ballot initiative? Debbie Nathan wants to go after concerned citizens who don't agree with her world view. No wonder people in El Paso don't vote - Debbie Nathan will bring the wrath of God down upon those who don't agree with her.
She is terrible. I feel sorry for the now very two scared senior citizens who think Debbie Nathan is going to expose them to abuse by the media and public. Debbie Nathan needs to think about what she's doing to the will of a citizen to participate in government. God help you if you sent an email to your council member and Debbie Nathan didn't agree with it. She will hunt your ass down and expose you!
Here's the danger in going through personal emails of city council members. If the only thing you need to have Eddie Holguin turn over every single one of his personal emails from the past six years is a *hunch* that someone emailed him about city business - Eddie Holguin is going to be very embarrassed. Can you imagine if your boss got a court order to look through your emails because he *felt* you were talking about business on your personal email account? That would not be a great feeling, would it?
The problem with searching the personal emails of city council members is that they are not controlled by a city employed systems administrator. Who does the court compel to search their personal emails and deem what is city business and what isn't? And how do they ensure what is read isn't remembered and spread by the reader?
Think about it - you're city council member and your worst enemy decides to claim that you are using your personal email account for city business. What if that same person gets to look through all of your emails, read every single one of them and take notes? Do you want your enemy reading your love notes to your wife? Your conversations with children and friends? No? Exactly! So why do you think the current city council should be put through that torture even though you're above it?
There is no good way to through somebody's personal email for political reasons.