Just So You Know, DeKalb’s Email Disclaimer is Garbage

This is popping up on emails from City of DeKalb.

Disclaimer: This is a transmission from the City of DeKalb that is confidential and proprietary. If you are not the intended recipient, copying or distributing the contents of this message is expressly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please destroy it and notify the City immediately. This email is the property of the City of DeKalb and the City reserves the right to retrieve and read any message created, sent or received, including the right to monitor messages of City employees or representatives at any time, without notice. Freedom of Information Act Requests submitted electronically should be submitted to foia@cityofdekalb.com (for general requests) or policefoia@cityofdekalb.com (for requests directed to the Police Department)

1. By default under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), communications generated by, or otherwise under the control of, a public body are public records that belong to all of us. Exceptions for confidentiality or any other reason must be narrowly applied on a case-by-case basis and defensible in court.

2. City of DeKalb is trying to prohibit the copying and distribution of public records? This strikes me as an intimidation tactic. News flash: If information is honestly so sensitive that city people are worried about its going astray, they should send old-fashioned letters, enveloped and certified. But I’ve even seen the message in emails that contain responses to FOIA requests, which are 100% public by definition. Ridiculous.

3. It’s quite disturbing to think that city employees have given themselves the right to spy on their bosses. Whose job descriptions include the “monitoring” of elected officers? Is this why the city manager needs so much more hired help than the last one did?

Conclusion: The blanket disclaimer — which, by the way, I pulled from an email sent by City of DeKalb’s own FOIA officer — is garbage. Copy. Distribute. Share. Laugh. It’s the American thing to do.