Former Mayor John Cook weighs in on new city council resolution re: personal email

Former Mayor John Cook weighs in on new city council resolution re: personal email

POSTED: Thursday, August 22, 2013 - 9:17pm

UPDATED: Thursday, August 22, 2013 - 9:20pm

The City of El Paso has opted for more transparency when it comes to city business conducted through private emails. The resolution, passed Tuesday, orders current and former council reps to make all emails about the new ballpark and the demolition of city hall public. It's just the latest twist in a long debate about whether private emails are public business.

"I turned them over immediately," said former Mayor John Cook. "In my humble opinion, city business, all of it should be open to the public."

Cook and City Council Rep. Susie Byrd turned over their emails to the city attorney after a public records request was made in late 2012. But they were alone. Even after Tuesday's decision, at least one former Council Rep. Steve Ortega, says he won't hand his emails over.

"If those emails had contained things that should be made public in the city council meetings, then they should be made available,” said El Paso resident Elizabeth Freitas.

Another El Paso local America Tirado agrees, but acknowledges city employees can make errors.

"They do have a difficult job. You always assume that they have to be perfect. But at the same time they're people so because they're people, people make mistakes," said Tirado.

It remains to be seen which council reps will comply with the request. City Representative Carl Robinson shared his thoughts on the matter.

"If you don't have anything to hide, you don't have anything to fear," said Robinson.

Former Mayor Cook says moving forward, current city employees should be diligent and careful about handling city business outside of the office.

"Anytime you're gonna conduct city business from your personal computer, make sure you copy your staff on it so it becomes a record on the city computer," said Cook.

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