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To Help With Record-Keeping Council Considers Text Database

Lindsey Kilbride

Jacksonville City Council members are looking at how to better track their own text messages for the public to access.

On Wednesday, Council members Lori Boyer, Garrett Dennis and President Greg Anderson met to discuss text-saving software options. The solution may involve all council texts automatically saving to a cloud.


Council members are responsible for saving their own text messages for the public record. Boyer says she emails texts that qualify to herself. Council President Greg Anderson says it’s not the best practice for record-keeping.

“I think we’re all concerned, based on whether we drop our phones, whether we would lose the texts or if we change carriers,” Anderson says.

He says historically public-records requests were targeted toward emails. Text requests have become more prevalent lately.

“So the reason we met today is to see if there’s a better way to do this, if we can have all the text messages sort of automatically loaded into a central location,” Anderson says.

Council members use their personal phones. Some members, like Boyer, keep a separate phone for business. If Council chooses the cloud option, all their texts would be saved, and they would be redacted afterward. Anderson asked if there was an option to block texts with family members from the cloud. Staff is following up on that question.

On Tuesday, Anderson tweaked the Council’s texting policy. Members are now required to disclose whether lobbyists are texting them about bills on the agenda during Council meetings. Members are also prohibited from responding to such messages.

This comes after a lawsuit against Council members for texting with a firefighters' union representative and changing votes on funding firefighter promotions.

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.