Documents are being destroyed at Pine Cove Water District (PCWD). The district’s board found out at its Nov. 13 meeting that the document destruction had been going on for three weeks with more documents left to be destroyed.
The document destruction was never listed as an agenda item. It was discussed as an item under the operations report as “Archive Building cleaning and reorganization.”
Per California Government Code 60200, “The legislative body of any special district may authorize at any time the destruction or disposition of any duplicate record, paper, or document, the original or a permanent photographic record of which is in the files of any officer or department of the district.”
The newspaper contacted Jim Ewert, general counsel at California News Publishers Association, and asked for clarification. Ewert told the newspaper that this requires special districts to authorize document destruction by resolution and that it must be listed as an open session agenda item and include a list of all documents to be destroyed. This can only be accomplished through the Brown Act to ensure that the public is given notice as to what will be destroyed.
“There’s some things you keep forever — payroll things and so forth, but there’s some things that on the recommendation of special districts, legal counsel we had done a resolution two to three years ago,” said Jerry Holldber, PCWD’s general manager.
That resolution was not adopted two to three years ago. The newspaper contacted Holldber and Office Manager Becky Smith for a copy of the resolution Holldber referenced in the discussion. Resolution #465 (click here to download the resolution) was adopted in 2011.
That resolution does not contain a list of the documents to be destroyed in 2019. Mainly, because the district would have no idea which documents would be destroyed that many years in advance.
“Unless they are clairvoyant, they would not know which documents they would be destroying that many years in advance,” stated Ewert over the phone.
What had been shredded prior to that meeting? Holldber told the board: “One load of shavings in my trailer and two in the truck? Or three in the truck?” Smith clarified for Holldber by answering, “Three in the truck.”