CATHEDRAL CITY – A self-appointed local government watchdog got more than he sought in one of his frequent public records requests from City Hall. His inadvertent bounty included confidential credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, driver’s license number, email addresses, phone numbers and more.
“He might not have a legal obligation to return it, but certainly he has a moral obligation,” City Manager Charlie McClendon told Uken Report.
Dale Jagodzinski, better known as Dale Jag, filed a public records request for information related to the Tejano Music Fest that was held in September. He retains possession of the documents and said he wants to meet with the people whose information was compromised to let them know.
Jag said he contacted McClendon to alert him to the issue; McClendon said he received no such call. The first he learned of the accidental breach was when Uken Report contacted him, McClendon said.
Jag also contacted the Riverside County District Attorney’s office, saying he spoke to Sue Fiandaca and Michael Gavin. Fiandaca said she had no recollection of the issue and would not talk to the media even if she did. Gavin did not return two phone calls.
Deputy City Clerk Tracey R. Martinez confirmed that someone from the District Attorney’s office contacted her. He wanted to inform her that the DA’s office had received a complaint and to find out if there was malice in the release of the information.
“It’s just something that happened,” Martinez said.
Jag told Uken Report he filed the public records request to see how much money was made at the Music Fest and how it was being spent.
“I don’t like to see wasteful things being done,” Jag said.
His initial request did not net what he was looking for so McClendon said he worked with Jag to tailor the request to get to the heart of what he sought. Ultimately, there were about 600 pages of documents. The city can charge 25-cents per page, which would have cost Jag $150. To save him money, they allowed Jag, which is legal, to bring his own scanner into City Hall to scan all the documents.
Before they were scanned, all information of a sensitive nature was redacted per city policy. Martinez and Communications Manager Chris Parman worked jointly to redact confidential information with black Sharpies.
Because he was using his own equipment, city officials could not inspect it.
“It’s impossible to see what he’s getting on the other side,” Martinez said.
Even though the confidential information was redacted per city policy, when Jag scanned them in to machine, the information was still visible beneath the black Sharpie marks. That would not have been the case if the city had photocopied them and charged Jag, but they were trying to work with him to fulfill his request – and save him money.
“We have worked hard to accommodate him,” McClendon said.
Jag claims this isn’t the first time this has happened. He alleges it is the third incident of this nature. McClendon disputes the claim.
“Obviously they are not doing the redacting properly,” Jag said. “I shouldn’t be the one telling them how to run their business. I identified the problem in the past. I don’t want to blame Tracey. The city should have guidelines but it doesn’t. How many more people are getting confidential material that shouldn’t be?”
McClendon said there is a clear policy in place and it was followed. The lesson learned, McClendon said, is that the city might have to reconsider whether individuals can bring their personal scanners into City Hall in Cathedral City.