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Another blow for open government | IN OUR OPINION
Some members of the Bainbridge Island City Council have shown they’re not ready to walk the talk on transparency.
In fact, a recent records request made by the Bainbridge Review shows that some council members have actually taken a step backward on conducting the public’s business in public.
Last week, emails provided to the newspaper revealed that council members David Ward, Sarah Blossom and Steve Bonkowski have been using their private email accounts to talk about city business.
And to make matters worse, Ward and Bonkowski refused to turn over any emails from their private accounts that centered on city business when they were asked by the city to turn over those emails.
To her good credit, Blossom submitted the emails where she had exchanged thoughts with Ward about the city’s water and surface water utilities.
It’s amazing that some on the council have forgotten — so soon — the uproar that erupted in 2011 when council members were found to be using their private email accounts to talk about city business.
We don’t begrudge the council if its members want to chat about city issues in one-on-one conversations or through emails that use their city email accounts.
Conducting city business in secret, through their own private email, is a different matter. It takes such public records out of the public realm and helps fuel further distrust in elected officials. It also creates the potential for abuse, where a majority of the council can exchange emails in secret to solidify their positions on important Bainbridge issues.
It also runs counter to the city’s own Manual of City Governance, adopted in 2010.
The manual states that city council members “shall cease utilizing any private, public or proprietary email service other than the city’s, for the sending or receiving of any such emails that meet the definition of public records.”