Readers should take a deep breath | LETTER TO THE EDITOR
April 29, 2012 · 9:29 AM
To the editor:
The Review has run back to back stories about “missing” police department application files that were returned, last month, to the city.
I would like to clarify their coverage.
It was my job, as civil service secretary, to remove applications from civil service files every few years in compliance with record retention rules. I removed some dated files, but did not destroy them, because I felt overly cautious about destroying files related to the police department. I put them in a secure location. A few rather tempestuous months passed where I was terminated from my job and made a scapegoat for “missing” files in the Ostling case and — during this unpleasant time — I forgot about them. When I remembered I had them, I procrastinated a bit, informed the civil service chair I had them, and brought them in to the current secretary. If I thought there was anything important in the pile there I would have been more prompt in my action.
As should be clear from this story, and news stories last year, the civil service commission used to have some rather serious problems with record keeping. Files were kept in multiple locations, keys were shared, inventories were not kept, and we did not have any system, at all, for record retention or destruction. I did my best to professionalize operations by telling commissioners about the problems, asking for a office, and a new filing system. These requests were characterized as “demands” by our last city manager, and used to justify my termination.
There is no “smoking gun” in the files I returned. There are no files related to the Ostling case or any other matter under investigation. They are simply files that I was expected to dispose of, and didn’t.
People have a right to their critical opinions. But I would be grateful if readers took a deep breath and realized — while I’m far from perfect — I did the best I could in a difficult situation.