Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

It's 2015! Why is the Arizona Corporation Commission only now getting around to setting policy for personal use of computers/cell phones?

In last Friday's post, Nancy LaPlaca's open letter to the corporation commission and Arizona Public Service, we learned that there apparently was no policy in place instructing (ACC) employees and elected officials about personal use of taxpayer funded computer and cellphone devices.

Why else would the executive director of the agency need to ask permission of a policy adviser (employee), who had not worked for the agency since the beginning of 2013 (who also had surrendered the devices back to the agency when she left), to access the text and email messages on those devices?

Well, in today's Yellow Sheet Report, we learn that APS-owned commissioner Doug Little made a policy (don't know how official it could be, but it's FAR too little, too late) for his staff. (again, paragraphs inserted for readability)
The controversy over Stump’s text messages has led the Corp Comm to look for ways to better retain public records on electronic devices, settling on a process that could become a model for other state agencies. The commission this week installed software on computers, which will copy and maintain text messages, thereby creating a safety net if texts got deleted on commissioners’ devices.
The Corp Comm has been embroiled in a dispute with DC-based Checks and Balances Project, which is seeking a copy of Stump’s text messages. Stump admitted to deleting the messages on his commission-issued phone and then discarding the phone, which he said was “literally crumbling” in his hands. The software will require commissioners and their policy advisers, as well as executive director Jodi Jerich and lobbyist Lori Lustig, to plug their phones into their computers to make copies of text messages, Jerich told our reporter today.
The back-up work is voluntary, and would be done every two weeks or so. Commissioners will use a cable to connect their phones to their computers, and create a copy of all their texts, which will be stored on their computers. Jerich said she started researching ways to maintain texts a few months ago, after it became clear that the only place a text is immediately saved is on the phone. Jerich said she actually found software that works like a phone app and automatically copies texts into email.
That app doesn’t have a lag in uploading text messages but it requires a newer version of Microsoft Office, which the commission doesn’t yet have. Jerich said the Corp Comm is in the process of migrating to newer versions of Microsoft Office, but she wants to have something in place in the meantime. “It’s not the best solution, but this is what we could use right now until we upgrade,” Jerich said.
All five commissioners are in Washington, DC for a conference this week, so Jerich has only spoken generally with them about options for backing up text messages on their phones. She sent the commissioners an email yesterday explaining how the software will work, and she asked them to make appointments with IT staff to walk them through the process. Jerich said she would prefer that commissioners set up a routine schedule with IT staff (maybe every two weeks or every month) to upload their text messages.
and under the YS heading of "Common Sense works, too"
Meanwhile, Commissioner Doug Little has already established a policy to govern the use of texts and emails in his office: No business with any individual associated with a regulated entity will be conducted via text message. Little’s policy, which was formalized in June, also says “under no circumstances” will official commission business be conducted on personal cell phones and emails.
He emphasized to his staff that this prohibition extends to text messages exchanged on personal mediums. “By the same token, I indicated that no personal business should be conducted on Commission-owned devices,” Little said in a letter to Jerich. Little and his staffers, policy adviser Matt Rowell and executive aide Shannon Whiteaker, have commission-issued cell phones.
Additionally, Rowell and Little have commission-issued laptops. Little says he has availed of commission-issued phones for his office in order to “eliminate, to the extent possible, any need to conduct any Commission related activity from any personal device or personal email account.” Any communications with anybody associated with regulated entities must also be done via commission email, Little said, adding, “I hope this provides clarification and insures that proper records will be maintained and that there is full transparency on any and all electronic communications from this office."
Now, it appears the Yellow Sheet reporters are proud of themselves for suggesting that what Little did was "common sense." But think about it. This is 2015. Arizona state agencies have been using email and cell phones for more than 20 years. Why would Mr. Little even have waited until June? He took office at the beginning of January. IF common sense were in play in this situation, why the hell did ANYONE even have to do ANY of these policy implementation steps... again, in 2015?!

In 2014, a Harvard University study found Arizona to be the MOST CORRUPT state government in the country.

With a dedicated news enterprise publishing the Arizona Capitol Times weekly (or, is "weakly" a more apt descriptor?) and the Yellow Sheet five times/week, one might hope that a FREE PRESS would hold state government officials' feet to the fire to demand integrity and accountability.

This situation demonstrates the abject failure of that enterprise to do anything but facilitate the corruption. And the state's largest newspaper, the Arizona Republic, with a full-time, dedicated reporter "covering" the corp comm, doesn't do ANY better. Yesterday, Republic business editor Kathy Tulumello wrote up what in religious commentary would be considered an apology.
Public records, including daily calendars, e-mails, memos, reports — and now potentially text messages — provide an essential guide to the debate over important public matters.
Randazzo routinely requests this information for review. It has been an essential element in his comprehensive coverage of solar's future in Arizona. And in his oversight of the commission, APS and Salt River Project.
IF Randazzo/the Republic's coverage was comprehensive, he would have been asking the hard questions and reporting on the answers. He doesn't have the chops for that kind of coverage. But he's good at taking cheap shots at Democratic former commissioners and covering Bob Stump's bee-hind on Twitter.

Anyway, shouldn't we be able to expect legitimate journalists to report with enough insight and savvy to make some headway in undermining the legal and illegal corruption in our state government?

In the interest of brevity, I'll save more nitpicking on Tulumello's apology for another day.


Netroots Nation '15 begins Thursday morning. I will live tweet some as well as posting a couple of times to this blog.

Highlights will include a Friday morning keynote speech by Elizabeth Warren and a Saturday morning town hall featuring Bernie Sanders and Martin O'Malley. Both of those events will be live streamed. Details at the conference website.

It would be nice if Hillary would grace us with her presence, but that doesn't appear to be in the cards for this week.

By popular demand, you are invited to #FeeltheBern on Saturday evening at the Phoenix Convention Center. Initially, local Sanders supporters wanted to arrange for Bernie to visit with supporters after the Saturday morning town hall. That has ballooned to more RSVPs than the first venue, Comerica Theatre, could hold. Arrangements were then made to hold an evening rally at the convention center. PLEASE RSVP and join us then.

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