Blogging Bayport Alameda

December 8, 2021

Unhealthy honor system

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

Regardless of how the Open Government Commission voted on Monday night here are a few important bits of information that we learned.

  1. When the public records request was made for Trish Spencer’s NextDoor communications in April, the City Attorney’s office asked Trish Spencer to make these documents available as the “custodian of record”
  2. The City Attorney’s representative could not recall receiving anything other that possibly one response from Trish Spencer which might have actually come from the City itself.
  3. The request for the public records came after the news that Trish Spencer had posted a list of names of people under consideration for sitting on the police reform committees so, at the very least, she should have produced that post/comment from NextDoor but did not.
  4. Eventually when the City was made aware that they had access to an agency account on NextDoor and that Trish Spencer had made comments on those posts they began collecting her responses and then eventually produced those as responsive products to the public records request.

So what this tells us is that either Trish Spencer didn’t think she had any responsive records or she didn’t care enough to perform her basic duties as a public official to be forthcoming and send all her records to the City Attorney’s office so that they could make those judgements for her. For someone who complained so much about Brown Act compliance, particularly around the police reform subcommittees she certainly doesn’t practice what she bitches about.

And given that the whole process of producing records relies on the honesty of the public official being asked for the records (unless you’re a certain former interim City Manager who puts email tracking software on ALL the accounts) if a public official simply decides not to comply where is the recourse for the public at this point?

Oh, and what came out on Monday night is that last Friday the City received an anonymous email with a ton (I’m guessing a ton because they were not uploaded to the agenda item on Monday) of screenshots from NextDoor which were of Trish Spencer posts and comments on NextDoor. The City Attorney said that these were sent, without redaction, to the PRA requestor and to the “custodian of records” aka Trish Spencer. If we are to telegraph anything from Trish Spencer acolytes who spoke during public comment the messaging is thus: (1) how do we know these are real and that they haven’t been altered, (2) the City shouldn’t have sent these because it has messages and comments from other people who aren’t public officials, and (3) posting NextDoor communications is against the rules of NextDoor. Those folks also seem to think they know EXACTLY who anonymous is, they won’t SAY who they think it is but are SURE they know.

Honestly, the person that these people should be upset with is Trish Spencer, had she taken the time to just produce her own records then the whole issue would be moot. There would be no questions about alterations, no questions about non public official messages, and no bending the rules of NextDoor. As someone pointed out on Monday night it’s pretty problematic that Trish Spencer doesn’t answer her constituent emails and uses a social media account which blocks a significant portion of people from accessing her social media publications about City related business. It’s time that the City Council address this given the fact that social media isn’t going away any time soon and these questions and conflicts around access and the public will only grow.

1 Comment »

  1. Well this certainly took an unexpected turn yesterday, didn’t it?

    Comment by Rod — December 10, 2021 @ 6:18 am

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