APS Board member will start using public e-mail account
‘I think transparency trumps convenience in this regard and hope others follow my lead,’ Martin Esquivel says.
Albuquerque Public Schools Board of Education Member Martin Esquivel has decided to use an official APS e-mail account for communication with constituents.
Esquivel decided to make the change earlier this week, after I published a column about the issue and reported that he used a private e-mail address as his official APS contact.
“After much thought, I have instructed the APS Board office to list my official APS e-mail address for constituent contacts off the website,” Esquivel, who is also a N.M. Foundation for Open Government (FOG) Board member, wrote in an e-mail earlier this week. “I think transparency trumps convenience in this regard and hope others follow my lead.”
There are other APS board members and local-government officials around the state who use personal e-mail for official business, in addition to a number of legislators and others, though many others use government e-mail. A debate has been raging lately about public officials’ use of personal e-mail accounts and whether such e-mails, when they relate to public business, are subject to the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act (IPRA).
When I asked Esquivel about the issue last week, he told me he had no problem turning over constituent e-mails sent to his personal address.
“I don’t consider myself a records custodian, but the way I look at it, if Mr. and Mrs. Smith send me an e-mail complaining about the operations at a middle school, is there any expectation of privacy there? I don’t think so,” he said, though he added that one person who feared retaliation was recently upset with him for passing on a complaint to an APS administrator.
In addition to listing a personal e-mail address for constituent contact, Esquivel had been using a personal account for contact with APS administration and staff. He said he will continue using the personal account for the latter purpose, adding that those communications are with officials who are using government accounts, so such e-mails are still obtainable through an IPRA request to APS.
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