News from the Tennessee Valley Opinion


Suggested county e-mail policy an abomination to democracy

Morgan Countyís data processing manager, David Hannah, has given his bosses on the County Commission an ideal way to hide public records. Given their history on handling e-mail policy, itís a surprise that Chairman John Glasscock didnít suggest approval and two of the four commissioners didnít use Glasscockís tie-breaking vote to adopt it on the spot when they met Tuesday.

Itís perfect — for public officeholders and their employees. But itís a rotten deal for the public.

Commission members give the appearance of doing everything they can to keep public records from the public. Thatís why Mr. Hannahís suggestion seems so ideal for the politicians.

Perhaps after consulting with county attorney Bill Shinn, the commission will enact this tell-the-public-what-you-want-it-to-know policy.

Mr. Glasscock says he doesnít do anything without consulting Mr. Shinn. Thus, the matter will come up later.

Certain public officials are tossing out red herrings to keep the records secret. None of the information The Daily seeks deals with Sheriff Greg Bartlettís pending investigations. Some might, however, deal with homeland security money. Neither would the data show peopleís personal tax records or their Social Security numbers. Those are the other officeholdersí red herrings.

Mr. Hannahís brilliant suggestion is to route all e-mail messages directly to individual users rather than to the computer server that now holds records that officials refuse to make available to the public.

Those users would decide which records are public and which ones are not. Those they donít mind the public seeing would go into a special file for viewing, but the others, well, only the users and no one else would ever know if more existed, or the nature of their content.

Thatís an ideal setup for abuse. Under this policy, Mr. Glasscockís e-mails of a sexual nature wouldnít have been disclosed.

Actually, the suggestion is an abomination to democracy, and goes against state law.

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