City destroyed soiled records, might have violated local laws

September 6, 2013

Many local governments are working toward preserving records through bulk scanning as they possibly can. But, how can city officials continue trying when those records are soiled with asbestos and are potentially damaging an employee’s lungs with toxins?

In Temple City, California, the city council decided to throw out seven filing cabinets filled with asbestos to protect workers from potential harm. Paperwork like permits, contracts, city charters, legal and conflict of interest(s) were hidden in those drawers, according to the Pasadena Star News.

In total, 759 documents dating from 1964 until 2012 were disposed of, but the city may face possible charges under the Center for Public Forum Rights law. No matter how old minutes, ordinances, resolutions or other court records are, these files must be retained. Even though local officials said that the papers were unsalvageable, they were able to scan 92 records.

Why did the city not complete scanning services for the other 700 or so records? Individuals like Don Zachary, an attorney and professor at USC, think that Temple City did not act in the best interests in the community by throwing away the filing cabinets.

“Destroying documents that are less than two years old sounds like it violates the spirit of the public records act,” Zachary told the Star News. “On its face, it sounds like this municipality is ignoring that reality in an effort to be super safe with regard to the asbestos dust.”

City attorney Eric Vail explained that to keep the paperwork, “someone [had to wear a] hazardous material suit scanning the documents. It’s very costly and it’s also very dangerous.”

Businesses and other government agencies can preserve records by getting their files safely digitized through the support of a document scanning company.

Tab Service Company is a Chicago based company with over 53 years of experience as a data processing service provider.  We provide business with outsourcing solutions for document scanning services, data entry services and mailing/lettershop services.  As a SOC2-approved organization, we apply industry-best practices to our approach with clients.