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Sunday, November 12, 2006

City Officials Take Email Warning

Pleasanton City Email Usage By Pleasanton Mayor, Jennifer Hosterman Being Investigated

Current Mayor of Pleasanton, Jennifer Hosterman, with her use of the city government email accounts for election activity and election fund raising requests, could spell major legal trouble for Mayor Hosterman. The use of city government email accounts for any type of personal or election activity is prohibited under California Government Code 8314.

Furthermore, city officials' email records are a matter of public record and could be requested by anyone. Additionally, those records can be published online for all to see.

With the power of the Internet, communications occurs at light speed. Privacy of your own email account can be severely compromised when sending information to your public officials. While it is very important to keep in touch with our public officials, it is also wise to consider using a different email account from the one that you personally use for day to day activities. It seems ironic that San Ramon City officials give so little credence of Privacy on the Internet. It also goes to show that public officials have very little privacy on the job. Remember, our government officials work for us and as such are accountable to the people.

Under §8314 of the California Government Code:

a) It is unlawful for any elected or local officer, including any state or local appointee, employee, or consultant, to use or permit others to use public resources for a campaign activity, or personal or other purposes which are not authorized by law.

c)1) Any person who intentionally or negligently violates this section is liable for a civil penalty not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000) for each day on which a violation occurs, plus three times the value of the unlawful use of public resources.

As the Internet continues to expand, with anyone able to write and publish information online, City Officials need to take Warning and do the right thing. Sometimes it is very easy for an official to have visions of grandeur, or using a certain elected city position as a stepping stone to higher government offices. They get all caught up in the mindset that they are doing the "people's work" when in reality they are working for themselves. It is not wrong to have a goal of being elected to a higher office, it is wrong to forget who you work for.

By-the-way, we suggest reading the Introduction to San Ramon News posting.

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