Editorial: Town emails
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email fiasco continues to grab headlines. Recently, it has been reported that members of Gov. Dannel Malloy’s administration have also used private email servers and addresses when conducting government business. (So has New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and who knows how many others?)
Here in Wilton, steps are being taken to ensure town officials conduct business in an easily identifiable manner. Town employees have long had email addresses that end in @wiltonct.org. Now, many elected and appointed officials have them as well.
When asked about the change, First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice told The Bulletin assigning town emails began during her last year on the Board of Selectmen. She asked that it be rolled out to all others when she became first selectman.
She enumerated three reasons:
- First, it ensures there is a record of all town business.
- Second, it simplifies the process of communicating with the public. Previously, emails sent to Town Hall were forwarded to individuals.
- Finally, it facilitates responding to FOIA requests.
Everyone is required to use these email addresses for all town business. If, for some reason, they must use a personal email to send a message, they must copy their town email address.
The benefits of this process are many, but primarily it ensures town business is transparent and communications are clear and complete. In the past, to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests when officials used their personal emails, they had to search through them and provide the requested document.
Just as importantly, members of the community may now easily reach out to a particular official. Wilton’s government is run by its citizens. Having government officials accessible to those they represent is the bedrock of this form of government. But how is a citizen to find out individual email addresses? All Wilton addresses follow the same format: firstname.lastname@example.org. (The Richards are a little tricky, but Dubow is Dick, Creeth is Richard, and Tomasetti is Rich.)
Right now, those with access to town email addresses are members of the Board of Selectmen, Board of Finance, Planning and Zoning Commission, Inland Wetlands Commission, and Miller-Driscoll Building Committee.
Vanderslice said the addresses are being rolled out in order of how much email members receive and soon all board and commission members will have them.
This is a positive step and should ensure — assuming the rules are followed and there is no reason to think they won’t be — clear communication among officials and their constituents.