After Street Supervisor Tony Ashbaugh harassed me in the city hall side parking lot on December 19, 2017 during a city council meeting, I made a report to the mayor and city council members the next day, December 20, 2017. When I did not get a response, I made a police report on December 21, 2017 and Ashbaugh was warned to stay away from me.
I didn’t receive a copy of the police report until January 10, 2018. Six days later, after discussing the continued harassment with my attorney, I made a Freedom of Information Act request for a copy of the surveillance video from the side parking lot for a visual record of the harassment.
On January 23, 2018, I received a reply from City Clerk Lori Vander Clay that the video surveillance recording of Street Supervisor Ashbaugh’s aggressive behavior toward me did not exist. She sent me a copy of the city council’s newly adopted video surveillance policy that states recorded videos are retained for thirty days. But the new policy also states that a video recording will not be destroyed when there is a safety or security issue warranting the retention of it.
Through this new policy, the city council took safety and security authority of city property away from the police department and gave it to the city manager. Isn’t this ridiculous? The new police chief if walking into a position with a devalued status by the city council members. One can only imagine the diminished morale of the police officers.
The police oversaw the report I filed and were aware of the email I sent to the city council members. Had the police continued in their oversight responsibility for our safety when we are on city property, they would have retained a copy of the surveillance recording because it was important documentation of a potential law violation. The police officers have a duty to protect the citizens while the city administration appears to have a duty to protect Tony Ashbaugh. It is interesting that the city council paid $900 for a new video surveillance policy that protects Street Supervisor Tony Ashbaugh while they previously paid approximately $50,000 in an attempt to keep a public video of him from the residents. This must be the only small town with boss rule by a street supervisor.
Michigan issues retention schedule #24 to city clerks. The retention schedule requires a city clerk to immediately cease the destruction of relevant records when a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request is made and that electronic records must be retained for over ten years. Since I submitted my FOIA request within the thirty day city ‘retention’ policy plus the State requires a 10 year retention period, it was a violation of the law that City Clerk Lori Vander Clay did not stop the destruction of the records I requested and penalties should be imposed. At the very least, the city council should investigate this issue and give the safety and security of our public buildings back to the police officers. Although the city council members don’t appear to understand this, the police are people trained and duty bound to care for our safety and security.
Below is from an introduction of the Michigan’s Retention Schedule #24 for City Clerks
Government agencies are responsible for ensuring that all of their records (regardless of format) are properly retained and remain accessible during this entire retention period. All records need to be stored in a secure and stable environment that will protect them from tampering, damage and degradation. As a result, government agencies should work with their information technology staff to develop preservation plans for retaining electronic records with long-term (more than 10 years) retention requirements. Various laws (including the Records Reproduction Act, MCL 24.401-24.406) identify acceptable formats for retaining public records; agencies are responsible for understanding and complying with these laws.
Government agencies must immediately cease the destruction of all relevant records (even if destruction is authorized by an approved Retention and Disposal Schedule) if they receive a FOIA request, if they believe that an investigation or litigation is imminent, or if they are notified that an audit, investigation or litigation has commenced. If relevant records exist in electronic formats (such as e-mail, digital images, word processed documents, databases, backup tapes, etc.), the agency may need to notify its information technology staff. Failure to cease the destruction of relevant records could result in penalties.