June 20, 2012
On June 15, 2012, the Utah State Records Committee considered whether Councilmember emails on personal email accounts are public records subject to request by the public. The Records Committee acknowledged that this is an area of uncertainty that has not been addressed directly by the Utah Legislature. This issue was raised when Mr. P. Ken Cromar, a Cedar Hills resident, requested all emails between the City’s Mayor or City Manager and its Councilmembers “using whatever email address” from March 5, 2012, back to January 1, 2011. The City had already agreed to provide Mr. Cromar all emails it has or could obtain. The Records Committee ordered that Mr. Cromar must pre-pay the cost of retrieving and compiling the records and limited his request to one year, consistent with the City’s retention policy. The Records Committee further ordered that the Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA) encompasses emails with Councilmembers that may only reside on their personal email accounts, even if City computers have no record of such emails, and do not know if such emails were sent or received.
Acting City Manager and City Engineer, Mr. David Bunker, who attended the hearing, said, “The City of Cedar Hills previously agreed to provide all emails it has or could get. The issue was whether the City is required to provide emails it has never had, and has been unable to obtain, despite its best efforts. Further clarification and possible legislation may be needed to identify when an elected official may electronically communicate in private with citizens and each other. Congruent with Friday’s decision, the City has been, and will continue to be, fully transparent with communications in behalf of the City.”