Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Case of the Missing Emails

The Case of the Missing Emails has been roiling Boston's City Hall for the past few weeks. To recap, one of Mayor Menino's top aides, Michael Kineavy, has been routinely deleting his incoming and outgoing emails so that they would not be backed-up or otherwise retained on the City's servers. This is, as the papers carefully put it, an "apparent" violation of state law; the Mayor characterized it as an "'honest mistake'" that was blown out of proportion thanks to election "'silly season.'"

The law in question has some pretty clear penalties: up to a five hundred dollar fine, a year in prison, or both. While the fine may not get anyone's attention, a year in prison certainly should, as Samuel Johnson once quipped, focus one's mind.

The recovered emails were released in slow-motion over the weekend, and the sampling that were printed in the Globe yesterday showed the political process at its worse: the Mayor "blowing up" (former supporters); his "very long memory" and so forth.

Another public figure with an aversion to email comes to mind. This financier was also subject to laws requiring email retention, although he contemplated violating them (and apparently had to be convinced not to do so). In the end, he decided to print the emails out on hard paper -- to eliminate the possibility of an automated search -- and then converted the paper copies to microfiche when the volume of paper overwhelmed storage areas.

The name of the financier who spent so much time and effort to 'erase' his firm's email tracks? Bernie Madoff.

No comments: