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Everett mayor, city councilors using private email for government business ordered to turn over comm

Mass Live

Steph Solis

July 26, 2019

A state supervisor of records told Everett officials that Mayor Carlo DeMaria and several city councilors using private emails for government business must turn over those records to the City Clerk Office as they are public records.

The supervisor's ruling, following an appeal from MassLive seeking emails from Everett officials, states that government-related emails, on private or public accounts, are still considered "public records" that should be maintained by the city and subject to public records laws.

“It is unclear why the City cannot retrieve the records responsive to Ms. Solis’ request from the City Council members,” the letter states. “The City is advised that the duty to comply with requests for records extends to those records that exist and are in the possession, custody, or control of the custodian of records at the time of the request.”

911 calls are supposed to be public records, but these Massachusetts agencies are keeping them secret

It’s not uncommon for the public or members of the media to have to fight to obtain 911 recordings.

Emails sent and received by government officials are considered public records under state and federal law. The laws are designed to provide transparency so the public can see how officials are making decisions that affect taxpayer money, public safety and the wellbeing of their communities.

"We have the public records law to give the public, citizens a better understanding of how government does its job," said Justin Silverman, executive director of the New England First Amendment Coalition. "If those emails pertain to government business, then the public should have access to them so they know what’s being done on their behalf. "

MassLive requested emails from DeMaria and the city council members in late May following the announcement of talks between Wynn Resorts, which owns Encore Boston Harbor, and MGM Resorts to sell the $2.6 billion Everett casino.

The talks, which sparked outrage and confusion, were short-lived. Encore Boston Harbor opened on June 23 to daytime fireworks and lines around the Harborwalk.

As Encore Boston Harbor prepares to open, traffic nightmares could present new transit opportunities

Wynn Resorts' transportation plan and long-term proposals will be put to the test this summer, starting with the June 23 opening of Encore Boston Harbor.

City Clerk Sergio Cornelio denied a public records request seeking emails filed by MassLive in May. When asked about the response, Cornelio said that the office did not have emails belonging to the mayor and most city councilors because they "all use their personal emails which are not on the City server" despite having city emails set up.

The Massachusetts Public Records Law defines public records as nearly any records or data created or received by any public official "regardless of physical form or characteristics."

In the response letter, supervisor Rebecca Murray cited a 2009 case, Mechling v. City of Monroe, as an example of a court deeming a public employee’s personal emails that involve government business public records.

Per the public records law, public records created outside the municipal offices must be transferred and stored in the municipal building on a regular basis.

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