City Transparency At Risk

As City of Marshfield’s Common Council prepares to discuss communications at tonight’s meeting (6:00pm, Council Chambers), issues of transparency from within City Hall bring to light serious questions about the City’s own transparency practices. 

During a recent Open Records Request investigation, OnFocus staff learned that communication between Mayor Bob McManus and outside parties has been taking place outside of a secure City e-mail account. Instead, McManus has been using his workplace email to conduct City business. McManus works as a Mortgage Lender for Forward Bank.

According to IT Director, Eng Ng, when anyone checking a City’s email address outside of the City’s network, they can only do so via a secure SSL with encryption, in addition to user ID and password. Within the City’s network, accounts are protected by firewall, anti-virus, and other means. This only applies to emails sent via the City address, leaving other correspondence (such as those sent through a personal or business email) unprotected.

Additionally, if a public official uses an outside work or personal email to conduct municipal business, it becomes subject to Open Records requests under the Freedom of Information Act. McManus’ work emails, under this legislation, are subject to public request. (City of Marshfield does not have any IT relationship with Forward Bank, Eng told OnFocus staff.)

The issue of government transparency is not new to Americans, with recent high-profile cases including those of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, El Paso Mayor Dee Margo, and former U.S. Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton.

< As of 9-11-2018 – OnFocus has submitted an open records request with the City of Marshfield IT department regarding all emails regarding city businesses that included Mr. McManus using his work email address, since the Mayor took office. Developing Story >