An adversary in a Florida lawsuit against the Village of Bal Harbour has asked the court to order the Assistant Mayor to turn over her personal devices and computers because there are public records on them and they are entitled to inspect the public records. Read the Story.
Bal Harbour Shops wants the judge to order the village clerk to confiscate all computers, iPads, smartphones and other devices used by assistant mayor Patricia Cohen to send or receive public records and called for an independent forensic computer expert to immediately copy and inspect the devices.
“It is apparent that Cohen is either willfully withholding public records, has deleted such records or otherwise failed to properly maintain and retain them, or has not even bothered to retrieve them or allow the village IT department to search and retrieve them,” Bal Harbour Shops said to the Court. Their position is that Cohen and the municipality have not only failed to produce time-sensitive public records, but have also failed to properly maintain electronic public records by allowing officials to conduct village business on personal accounts.
Most states have Freedom of Information laws which require public records to be produced for inspection by the public. Different states have different penalties for noncompliance. For example, Connecticut has a civil penalty of at much as $1000. New Jersey starts at $1,000 for the first infraction and then escalates the penalty to $2,500 and then $5,000.
Whether you are a municipal board/commission/committee member or a board member on a nonprofit or community association, the risk is the same. If you use your personal resources like email accounts and computers to perform your Board/Commission/Committee work, you put yourself at risk. Entities with Board Members should not be putting their Members at risk.
Office of the Board solves this instantly by providing a separate patent-pending Risk Intelligent Framework for Board/Commission/Committee Members to perform their work. Their personal devices and computers are not at risk because Office of the Board is completely web-based. Emails, documents, etc. are kept off of personal devices and computers and reside inside Office of the Board. If you are a Board/Committee/Commission member you should demand that your entity create an Office of the Board to protect itself and you.