Lindsay City Council member Ramona Caudillo could lose her seat next month after fellow council members rejected her request for a medical leave of absence, plus the council voted to amend its records retention policy, which may fall short of state law.

July 25, 2023 — Lindsay City Council

Documented by Esteban Solis Loya

What happened: Lindsay City Councilmember Ramona Caudillo could lose her seat next month after fellow council members rejected her request for a medical leave of absence. Caudillo was absent from the council’s Tuesday meeting and the meeting prior on July 11.

At the July 11 meeting,  City Attorney Megan Dodd announced that Caudillo requested a leave of absence through Oct. 8 due to undisclosed medical reasons. That same night, Mayor Hipolito Angel Cerros made a motion to approve Caudillo’s request.

However, the motion died on the floor without a second from either Mayor Pro Tem Yolanda Flores or Councilmember Rosaena Sanchez. Councilmember Ramiro Serna was absent from the meeting.

Dodd told the council the city’s charter allows them to replace a member after three consecutive meeting absences. The council could vote to replace Caudillo if she misses the upcoming Aug. 8 meeting.

Dodd said that she received a doctor’s note from Caudillo but did not elaborate on the reason for her request.

Deleting emails? : In a 3-1 vote on Tuesday, the council amended its records retention policy so that emails will be automatically deleted after 18 months, rather than the previous policy, which allowed emails to be deleted after 30 days.

City Clerk Francesca Quintana said that the city wants to stay current with state and federal laws, although California state law requires that certain emails be kept longer than 18 months. Cerros, Sanchez and Serna voted in favor of 18 months, with Flores opposing in favor of one year.

During the discussion, City Manager Joe Tanner said that if anyone sues the city, any records kept within the last two years could be used as evidence. Certain records, such as human resources-related documents, are kept longer as retention plans change between different types of documents.

Dodd, the city attorney, said that one year is “pretty standard for cities” and that “litigation holds” don’t count toward any emails or records already deleted.

She said the process helps with public records requests, as city staff doesn’t have to search through years of records.

Quintana said that if there’s something city staff thinks is important, they may save emails as PDFs or as a copy somewhere they have private access to.

Up next: The Lindsay City Council will meet again at 6 p.m. on Aug. 8.

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The Fresno Documenters are a group of local residents who are trained and paid to attend and take notes at local public meetings where officials decide how to spend public money and make important decisions...