According to the s-t.com, the search of some of the records was illegal. One more example of the BOS completely out of focus with the reality of their responsibilities and the rights of others.
Here's the article:
Wareham computer sweep raises legal By Steve Urbon
May 29, 2009 6:00 AM
Wareham computer sweep raises legal questionsBack to the write way: NBPD computers crashDollar days at local grocery storesIxtapa Cantina restaurant closes doors in Dartmouth'Jon & Kate’ plus hate?New Bedford tug helped on Hudson WAREHAM — Town officials may have unlawfully obtained personal and confidential financial information from the assessors' computers in a townwide audit of government computers this week, according to local and state officials.
The sweep has caused a wave of speculation about the motives of the Board of Selectmen in ordering it, but those involved are staying mum.
State Department of Revenue spokesman Robert Bliss confirmed Thursday that assessors Chairman Steven F. Curry called Tuesday after learning that all of the town's computer drives were being copied by hired investigators.
"I was very upset," Curry said. "I found out about it over the weekend. I called our office and then spoke with the town administrator to voice my concern that a lot of the information taken was confidential."
Bliss said Curry was referred to the Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 59, Section 52b, which puts a tight lid on the personal financial information that assessors gather to make decisions on such things as abatements.
Such information, it says, "shall be open to the inspection of the assessors, the commissioner, the deputies, clerks and assistants of either the assessors or the commissioner and such other officials of the commonwealth or of its political subdivisions who have occasion to inspect such information in the performance of their official duties, but no other person except by order of the appellate tax board or a court."
Curry said, "Even under the Freedom of Information Act this information is not accessible," adding, "It's strictly confidential to the assessors and the Board of Assessors and clerks in doing their job.
"Even if the town administrator and selectmen wanted a certain file, they're not authorized to have that. But they copied all the hard drives in town, and there was no notification that they were going to do it. Our records are available only by court order," Curry said. A separate warrant would have to be issued for each file, he said.
His view was seconded by New Bedford Assessor Peter S. Barney, who said "almost nobody has the right" to access highly personal information that includes such things as businesses private income and expense statements. "The only ones within City Hall would be the people in our office," he said, with the same rules applying statewide.
Interim Town Administrator John Sanguinet personally led the computer sweep along with an attorney and a computer consulting firm hired for the purpose, according to various reports. The sweep began Friday, when town offices were closed for a furlough day and no one was around. It concluded Tuesday and Wednesday.
The sweep included the Police Department's computers, where Chief Thomas Joyce was just coming off a one-week suspension issued by Sanguinet for an undisclosed reason. Various police officials contacted for a reaction said there is sensitive and confidential information on their computers.
Sanguinet did not return repeated calls from The Standard-Times.
Bruce Sauvageau, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, which ordered the sweep in a closed meeting earlier this month, was asked about the assessors' information and said, "I don't need instructions from you about what we can and cannot do. Thanks for your time." And he hung up on a reporter.
Selectmen Brenda Eckstrom's two voice mail accounts were not accepting new messages Thursday, and she could not be reached for comment. Phone messages were not returned by Selectmen Jane Donohue and Walter Cruz.
Selectman John Cronan said he learned "in a roundabout way" what the computer sweep was looking for, but deferred to Town Counsel Ilana Quirk, who did not return a phone call Thursday.
Police Chief Joyce also did not return repeated phone calls, nor did a spokeswoman for Plymouth County District Attorney Timothy Cruz. A spokeswoman for state Attorney General Martha Coakley said the office was not yet involved in any way.
With no suggestion from town officials about what they were looking for, speculation ran rampant on online discussion boards, with many suggesting town officials want to know if some of the people posting Internet comments are sitting at desks in town offices. Many accused the Board of Selectmen of a "fishing expedition" and a "witch hunt."
Steve Urbon is senior correspondent of The Standard-Times.
Last edited by indianchief (2009-05-29 11:14:04)
OF COURSE ITS ILEGAL TO COPY THE COMPUTORS OF THE ASSESORS WITH PRIVATE INFORMATION ON OUR CITZENS, AND BUSSINESSES HAVE PRIVATE INFORMATION THAT THEY DONT WANT THEIR COMPITORS TO Have. what about the rule of privacy? also there is private info on the police computors that should not be outin the public. at the library there is private addresses and unlisted phone numbers. at the board of health there is private info and this info should not be in the hands of these clows and buffons. these people do not have my respect and in fact they are shitheads... what does the town drunk brocton brenda know about the rule of law, does brucie who has more complaints against him at the police dept what does he know about the rule of law all he knows is how to break the law. they are clowns. cronan is a convicted fellon what does he know about the rule of law. cruz is asleap most of the time and then theit is the cript keeper a hater if there ever was one,its not her money let them eat bread and i will eat cake.... BY THE WAY I SMOKE POT AND IT WAS AGAINST THE LAW FOR A LONG PERIOD OF TIME , YOU SEE I CAN BREAK THE LAW,SCREW YOU THE CITZENS OF WAREHAM I AM THE QUEEN OF WAREHAM.
Why would anyone want to claim fame to anything in Wareham at this point and time? No offense, but maybe we all need to start smoking something to try to see through the colored glasses these goons running the town see!
Wait for it, boys & girls. This story finally has legs.
For the moment, that's all I'm saying.
Just for the record, Mass has some of the tightest privacy laws of any state. I would interested in knowing if the BOS/and counsel read the privacy laws. Normally, I would assume they did, but with this crew, who knows? I recently had to do an in-depth reading because of software changes at work. It is very comprehensive and unless the rules of use for town of Wareham are equally comprehensive, there will be legal challenges.
This another half-baked plan by the BOS. If they would only think things through before proceeding....