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WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2007
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Manager: Morgan e-mail not missing

By Sheryl Marsh
smarsh@decaturdaily.com 340-2437

Morgan County data processing manager David Hannah said no e-mail is missing from the county's main server; it is not accessible.

Hannah's boss, County Commission Chairman John Glasscock, said he still plans to report e-mail irregularities to the Alabama Bureau of Investigation and the FBI. Glasscock introduced the agenda item as a late addition at Tuesday's commission meeting. It passed unanimously.

In addition, the commission unanimously approved asking the state Department of Examiners of Public Accounts to perform an audit of the computers for gross misuse of e-mail relating to political campaigning, operating personal businesses and pornography. District 4 Commissioner Stacy George introduced the measure after Glasscock's amendment passed.

Difficult to audit?

No one explained how examiners could audit if they could not see all e-mail. A spokesperson for examiners said Morgan County officials had not contacted the director of county audits, therefore, he could not comment about how auditors would audit without seeing e-mails.

Before the meeting, Glasscock had Hannah give an explanation at a work session about why some e-mail generated in Sheriff Greg Bartlett's office were allegedly missing from the county's main server.

In responding to a public records request from The Daily last week, the sheriff said he reviewed e-mail of his office on the server a second time and it appeared that some were missing. He asked Glasscock to investigate. Glasscock turned it over to Hannah.

In his letter Bartlett said, "I have been told because of the enormous number of e-mails that are on the server that it is common or certainly not unusual that e-mails may be dropped."

Bartlett gave the newspaper screen captures of two e-mail headers dated May 15 and June 5, 2006. He said those were not necessarily all of his e-mails, however, they were the two he considered public.

Glasscock earlier said Hannah told him that the server was overloaded and was dropping e-mail.

Hannah explained Tuesday that a week ago there were 499,000 e-mails on the server, and later Outlook Express showed about 434,000 e-mails. He said the e-mails have not vanished, but they are not displaying. By Tuesday, Hannah said the server had 504,000 e-mails stored. He said he did not know how many e-mails are not visible. He did not explain why the number of stored e-mails decareased and then began increasing.

He offered two solutions during the work session to correct the problem.

  • Consider buying another server, hardware and software which would continue archiving messages on the server.
  • Route all messages directly to individual users rather than the server. The users would be required to separate e-mails they deemed public record and forward them to a file for public access. This would place sole responsibility for deciding which e-mails are public with officials and employees in county offices. The public would never know if someone is sending or receiving inappropriate e-mails.

    Glasscock would not allow a Daily computer expert to ask Hannah questions at the public work session Tuesday. Instead, he wanted a list of questions to give to Hannah.

    "We won't be taking questions during the meeting," Glasscock said, before the meeting started.

    A reporter reminded Glasscock, who often allows visitors to the meeting to speak, that the media has a right to ask questions.

    The Daily editor/computer expert did not give Glasscock a list of questions, but talked briefly with Hannah after the work session.

    Computer discussion continued during the meeting that followed the work session.

    The commission unanimously authorized replacing two hard drives that Hannah said are full on the e-mail server. The old hard drives will be stored in data processing. The action was contingent on Circuit Judge Steve Haddock agreeing to amend a restraining order that prohibits destruction of computer records. Later, Haddock issued an order to allow replacement of the hard drives.

    Once computer discussion ended, Glasscock produced a typed agenda item that had not been previously mentioned during the meeting. The item authorized him to contact the ABI and FBI.

    The commission voted unanimously to authorize Glasscock to report e-mail irregularities to the agencies and request an investigation to determine whether any criminal offenses have been committed.

    He said he was doing this "to restore integrity and trust."

    The e-mail scandal broke after a television reporter aired an e-mail of naked women that Glasscock received and forwarded to others.

    The commission hired a computer expert and law firm to conduct an investigation, which ended Dec. 28.

    Glasscock is not the first commissioner with the idea to call on outside agencies concerning the e-mail matter. District 3 Commissioner Kevin Murphy and George wrote letters and made phone calls to state and federal agencies to no avail.

    George showed The Daily a copy of a letter that he sent to the state attorney general, ethics commission and Examiners of Public Accounts. He asked for help in protecting two back-up disks of the server. Hannah said one disk is in the Sheriff's Department for safekeeping and the other is in data processing.

    Murphy showed The Daily receipts from certified mail that he sent to Gov. Bob Riley, ABI and Homeland Security. Murphy asked the governor for help get ABI to conduct an investigation of county e-mails. The governor forwarded his request to the director of the state Department of Public Safety.

    "I put forth every effort I could to get a investigation by someone from the outside," Murphy said.

    Glasscock did not say when he plans to contact the ABI and FBI.

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