Philly Mayor Kenney deleted years’ worth of text messages, report | Monday Morning Coffee
Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.
So here’s a reminder that text messages are, in fact, public records.
The Inquirer reports this morning that ‘old-school’ Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has spent years deleting text messages from his personal cell phone, apparently unaware that he was deleting important public records of his mayoralty in the doing of it.
More from The Inky:
“The mayor, who has long eschewed a city-issued cell phone in favor of his personal cell phone, “wasn’t aware that he needed to retain texts on his personal device,” according to his spokesperson, Deana Gamble. “He habitually deletes items on his phone to clear space.”
“Habit or not, the move may violate state open records laws. Any communication — electronic or paper — as it relates to city business is subject to the state’s Right-to-Know Law and considered a public record. And those records are intended to be preserved to help citizens see and understand how public officials govern and tax dollars are spent.
“Alex Abdo, an open records expert and advocate, called the mayor’s deletion of text messages “extremely troubling.”
“That’s three years’ worth of Philadelphia history gone,” said Abdo, a senior staff attorney at the Knight First Amendment Institute.
“Daniel Bevarly, executive director of the National Freedom of Information Coalition, said public officials are increasingly using private cell phones as a way to circumvent open records laws. “The use of private phones, it’s just something to get around open government laws,” he said in an interview Friday. “They will say, ‘Well, I didn’t know.’ Well, they need to be better trained in open records laws.”
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And now you’re up to date.
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