An email exchange between Rio Arriba County officials and Jemez Mountains Electric Cooperative Board of trustees has gone missing.
The emails’ absence was discovered by Co-op member-owner Dave Neal.
Neal sent a records request in January 2019 and another in October 2019. In response to the October request, Neal did not receive a particular email exchange that he should have, although he did receive that exchange months earlier, in response to the January request.
County Attorney Adán Trujillo stated to Neal in a November email that the email in question is no longer on the County server, and that he did not know why. But, he said, the County has had trouble with its email server, and numerous employees have found gaps in their email histories.
County IT Director Raymond Ortiz wrote in a text message Tuesday that the County server crashed in March 2019 and that the system was restored a couple weeks later.
In his January 2019 request, Neal asked for “all communications received or transmitted by Rio Arriba County Economic Development Director Christopher Madrid or any County official relating to the County owning and operating a solar array.”
He received a July 2018 exchange between Co-op Trustee-at-Large John Tapia, County Economic Development Director Christopher Madrid, Co-op Board President Leo Marquez and Jerry and James Mosher of Consolidated Solar Technologies as part of the response to his request.
In the exchange, Madrid asked Tapia to put the County in direct email contact with Consolidated Solar Technologies — Tapia is employed by the company — and Tapia wrote, “No problem Chris.”
In his October 2019 request, Neal asked for “(all) electronic mail messages delivered to electronic mail account email@example.com, Rio Arriba County Assistant Manager, originating from any of the below electronic mail addresses after June 1, 2018 to present.”
One of the below email addresses was Tapia’s, so the email exchange should have been included in the response, but it was not.
It is not clear for how long the County is legally required to maintain its emails.
Posted on the County website is a list of records retention policies taken from New Mexico law that states “internal and external communications and related records to or from executive level personnel including, but not limited to, directives and not identified in other classifications” must be retained permanently.
The same list states that “routine correspondence and related records of day-to-day office administration” need only be kept for a year after it is created.
Trujillo could not be reached before press time regarding whether the email exchange in question falls into the first or second category and whether the state statute posted on the County’s website definitely applies to the County.
Neal said he will likely file a complaint with the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office about the missing exchange.