The Fort Lauderdale Fraternal Order of Police wants to read text messages between two top city officials, and the officers aren't taking 'no'' for an answer.

As you'll see in this letter, the city refused to give copies of text messages from the city manager's cell phone, and that of one of his assistants, David Hebert, to the union.

The city argued that text messages are 'transitory'' like voice messages and that they're not required under the state's open-records law to be stored. And thus, since they're not stored, the city argues it does not have them and doesn't have to provide them.

The union didn't like that. They also asked for Hebert's outgoing email. Email is stored and is a public record. But you'll see from this letter

that Hebert's fingers are busy on the keyboard. The union's request was estimated to cost 'several thousand dollars,'' which would have to be paid by the union. The union says that's tantamount to saying: 'You can't have these records, either.''

The city suggested that the request be limited to reduce the amount of staff time involved.

Enter the lawsuit.

The union filed suit this summer against Gretsas, Hebert and the city and demanded a jury trial.

The union said its request for the emails was 'for all practical purposes denied'' and that the text message request also was denied.

The lawsuit says that Gretsas and Hebert 'regularly use personal and public electronic cellular phones to transmit 'sms' text messages both made and recieved for the purposes of conducting official business on behalf of and for the benefit of the city of Fort Lauderdale.''

It also says that Verizon Wireless has been put on notice by the union that the text messages are being sought.

Verizon wants authorization from the city, or a court order, to turn them over.

This will be fun to watch.
Source Sun-Sentinel, 9/9/2008