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Historical Records Commission Minutes January 14, 2021

Members present:
Joyce Sayed (Chair)
Steven Lovejoy (Vice-Chair)
John Murphey
Eric Stanley

Members excused:

Associate Members present:
Amanda King, Secretary

Guests present:
Sabrina Condon, Business Systems Analyst, Sonoma County Records Center
Deborah Lindley, Sonoma County Records Manager
Deva Marie Proto, County Clerk-Recorder-Assessor-Registrar of Voters
Sarah Vantrease, Sonoma County Library Public Services Division Manager
Katherine Rinehart, Sonoma County Heritage Network, Chair and Advocates of the Sonoma County Archives, Co-Chair
Reece Foxen, Library Commissioner (LC) Liaison to HRC
Margaret Purser, Anthropology Professor at Sonoma State University
Joanna Kolosov, Librarian, History and Genealogy Library
Gretchen Emmert, City of Santa Rosa Records Manager
Michael Von der Porten, Local Retired Citizen and Sonoma County Historical Society, Treasurer
Deborah Doyle, Library Commissioner, Chair and Member of the Public

  1. Call to order 4:00 pm
  2. Introduction of Guests
    1. December 8, 2020 Minutes approved
      1. Motion by John Murphey
      2. Second by Eric Stanley
      3. Approved
    2. Election of Steven Lovejoy as New Chairperson
      1. Motion by John Murphey
      2. Second by Eric Stanley
      3. Approved
    3. Election of Eric Stanley as New Vice-Chairperson
      1. Motion by Steven Lovejoy
      2. Second by John Murphey
      3. Approved
    4. Budget Discussion
      1. $4,292 balance
    5. Review Retention Schedule
      1. Sabrina: Overview regarding revision and approval process for retention schedules:
        1. Changes to media neutral, which allows department heads to choose the format of the documents that are most suitable for those documents so long as those records are held for the amount of time listed in the retention schedule. 
        2. Designing schedules around business processes to ensure the schedules have longevity with flexible descriptions.
        3. Review process is to bring to the HRC after Department approval, after HRC sign off the retention schedules would go to the Board of Supervisors for approval.
      2. Sheriff’s Dispatch Schedule
        1. Key updates made: Media neutral, omitted a duplicate records series, minor revision to the retention frame of one item from 200 to 225 days.
        2. Motion to accept as presented by Steven Lovejoy
        3. Second by John Murphey
        4. Approved
      3. Clerk-Recorder-Assessor-Registrar of Voters Schedule
        1. Key updates: Media neutral, grouped items, updated naming conventions, cleaned up some redundancies from when Clerk-Recorder-Assessor were separate departments.
        2. Discussion related to wanting to add “A” or “Archival” designation, which means it will be sent to the Archives. Archival in nature is a record the public wants to seek out and use for information
        3. Items by Title discussed for clarification:
          • Assessor’s Subdivision Index:
            • Deborah: This is an active internal business reference document. 
            • Deva: These are not maps, this is an index.
            • Deborah: It’s a name
            • Joyce: What type of file is it?
              • Access Database
            • Joyce: What information do you get? 
              • Subdivision name, book/page, assessor information, and the date
            • Deborah: Should this be reclassified as a “list” instead of an “index”?
              • Deva: Yes.
          • Confidential Marriage Licenses
            • Deborah: we do not recommend an archival designation as this is confidential and a court order is required for these records.
            • Clerk schedule will be updated to Confidential Marriage License and Certificate.  Will remove Vital Records-Confidential from the Recorder area.
          • Oaths of Public Officials
            • Deborah: we will update that to “Archival”
          • Power of Attorney & Revocation by Surety
            • These are not recorded power of attorney, they are power of attorney documents used for reviewing and accepting professional registration bonds filing
            • Keep series as is
          • What do abbreviations mean?
            • AC = After Close and Completion
            • Deborah: we will send out a reference chart/key on Retention abbreviations
          • Records of Notary Public Oaths
            • “tapes stored at offsite vault” to be removed.
          • Public Official Bonds
            • Steve: Wanted to ask about the historical bonds?  What year are we talking about that this is happening?
            • Amanda: I believe you are referring to the Master Bond or Official Bond.  It is currently at about 400 pages.
            • Steve: Public official bond is usually a 2 page document.
            • Deva: I believe you are talking about the old ones and those are permanently recorded.  Oath is to be recorded with the Recorder, Recorder transmits the Clerk to file, then if the Bond of County Clerk is included, it must be transmitted from the Clerk for filing with the ACTTC.  The County Clerk filing is a duplicate filing.  It covers all the County officers.  County may choose to do a Master bond instead of individual bonds pursuant to Government Code §1463.
            • Steve: Are these officials named by name?
            • Amanda: It is by office
          • Vital Records – Records of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in Sonoma County
            • Discussion of how Vital Records originate locally and are file with the California Department of Public Health, County Clerk is issuing copies of that record. 
          • Registrar of Voters, Correspondence-Elections
            • Steve: Under retention it says “obsolete”, what does that mean in terms of retention? 
              • Deborah: It means no longer of business value, relatively quick disposition, records that are transitory in nature but typically business value is under a year
          • Registrar of Voters, Maps of District Boundaries
            • Live documents for the Registrar of Voters that are strictly utilized for setting up polling locations and things of that nature.  These are copies driven by the Assessor in Tax Rate Changes.  This is a secondary document used by ROV internally to illustrate boundaries.
            • Official District Boundary maps are held by the District.  ROV gets a copy so residences are tagged to the right district
        4. Steve: revisions are minor so we do not need them to come back to the HRC for approval
        5. Motion to approve as amended by Steven Lovejoy
        6. Second by Eric Stanley
        7. Approved
    6. Continuing Business
      1. Archives Activity
        1. Update by Sarah Vantrease:
          • Received Verbal approval from the County to enter the Los Guilicos site, very minor levels of toxic particulates in the Archives, so minor that the County sees no health danger in Staff accessing the building. 
          • Library has requested something in writing from the County with details clarifying safety for humans vs. documents
          • Do not want to delay access further as there are some pending requests
          • No time frame on receiving the written information from the County.  Request has been made a couple times.
      2. Library Commissioner Update
        1. Update from Sarah Vantrease:
          • Library is still in the recruitment process for the Supervising Librarian
        2. Update from LC Reece Foxen:
          • Library Commissioners have been sent the HRC / Archives Digital handout
          • We want to keep and protect the Archives.  The LC is not involved in the operations part of the Library. 
          • Archives Task Force has met and questions were raised how to do this and how to come together to get it done. 
          • Steve: Is it your position that the LC has no input with the Library management about the Archives?
            • We have input but they are in charge of physical operations.  We manage the budget, advocacy, outreach, and create relationships and communication links.  We are only able to suggest and advocate and that is what I try to do bring it back to the LC.
          • Steve: We really appreciate that.  We’re trying to understand how to move the Library to act.  The LC develops the Strategic Plan along with the Library Management.  LC also manages the budget.  Those are two very important items in order to direct the Library what’s important to the County and your constituents that you represent.
            • Reece: In reality, we have input into the Strategic plan.  It is the Library that is in charge of the Strategic Plan. The Library absolutely feels like these Archives need to be protected. Things have changed since 1965 when these arrangements were made.  Needs are different and all this needs to be sorted out.  And they are working on it.
            • Steve: One of the main things the HRC want is the Library and County to have a discussion about is the Roles and Responsibilities.
              • Reece: That is what the Archives Task Force is discussing now
      3. Archives Task Force
        1. Met on December 16, 2020 as a status update meeting with the goal of this meeting to identify any possible funding sources and the goals of the Library related to “management” of the Archives.
        2. Joyce: The notes from this meeting were hard to follow.  Would you please clarify the meeting?
          1. Amanda: Meeting of the Archives Task Force is between the Library and County to determine information related to the Archives.  Who is in charge? Should whoever is currently in charge continue to be in charge? Is that outdated?  Currently, the Library is in charge of the maintenance of the Library. CAO’s office is trying to understand what is happening/needed to be done so a way to fund the Inventory of the Archives may be located.  Then next steps would be to determine the roles and right now they are trying to figure out what is in the Archives and a way to fund that.
        3. Steve: The HRC was thinking that this Task Force, which was recommended by Supervisor Gorin.  The HRC believed this initial task force was to put together the presentation to take to the Board of Supervisors to ask for a larger task force to figure out all these questions.  It sounds like this Task Force has taken on a life of its own directed by the Library.
          1. Sarah: This is not the HRC task force, this is a meeting between the Library and the County to bring the right staff to bring together to make decisions to move forward.
          2. Deva: I do not know what direction Supervisor Gorin gave to County staff but I believe the first item given to County Staff was to find out what was in the Archives, because that may determine where something else goes.  That is one of the biggest priorities to my understanding of the HRC, Library, and County.  If we do not get an inventory, we do not know who owns what-County, City, Library, etc.  So the CAO’s office is looking at budgetary issues and trying to determine where funding could come from to complete an inventory.  Getting the CAOs office educated and involved will be the first step in anything.
        4. Joyce: When is the next meeting expected for this group?
          1. Secretary will request date of the next meeting.
        5. Steve: Reece was involved with the initial meeting with Supervisor Gorin who assigned Darin Bartow to this Task Force and it was the HRC’s understanding that this Task force was to look at the issues involved, determine who might be on a larger Task Force and take this back to the entire Board of Supervisors to ask them to put together a Task Force to look at this.  The HRC has recommended to the LC that we were looking for a broad coalition of people like County, Library, users of the Library, space planners, budget people, and all that need to look at this in a broad perspective.  My complaint about this task force here is that it is rather small and slow.  As a member of the public and member of the HRC the County and Library are not taking it seriously especially if they don’t schedule a next meeting.
          1. Deva: This is being driven by the CAO and right now this is not the priority.  I think the pandemic and future budget is most likely their priority.  I am not surprised it does not have the full force of the CAO behind it since they are working on gearing up for vaccinations. 
          2. Steve: We have had disaster after disaster.  I think the HRC and the LC are aware and we don’t want it languishing.  We want to keep this in their minds when there is budget and time to do these important things.  I wonder if a letter to CAO would be more important than to the LC.
          3. Amanda: I did bring up to the Archives Task Force what Steve mentioned regarding an existing army of volunteers that are knowledgeable on historical records and preservation.
        6. Joyce: At this point we will keep it on our agenda, it’s clear we have an ongoing concern, and we will be looking forward to information coming out of the CAOs office.
        7. John: In this preliminary discussion, was there any discussion about what would be the next instrument of management?  Which side would be in charge of initiating it?  There is no up-to-date guiding document.
          1. Amanda: The JPA was discussed in terms of reviewing and seeing where those roles are and the current status.  In my opinion of the discussion, the Library would like the responsibility removed from their offices and that no other libraries are managing Archives and it’s not their area of expertise.
          2. Deva: When the discussion of the JPA came up, the County is saying we need to review the JPA but more of a confirmation that the Archives is not mentioned in the JPA as the Library’s responsibility so they wanted to confirm that themselves.
          3. Sarah: The JPA does not mention the Archives at all and there is no formal arrangement between the County and the Library.  So that would be part of the clarification.  To follow up on the comment: it is not common for a library to manage the government records of another organization.  Examples of libraries managing archives are when the Library is part of that same government body.  Overseeing the government records of something that is separate is unusual.
        8. Sarah: I have to sign off, are there any questions you would like me to take to Director Hammond?
        9. Katherine: Library has said they don’t want these records and that is something we have not heard before.   And if it is an inventory that needs to be done, then let’s get that done.  The inventory when I left was approximately $150,000. 
          1. Deva: I believe that is what the County is looking at, what funds?  I cannot speak for the Library.  I believe they are prioritizing Library operations over the Archives inventory.  I do not want to be speaking for the Library.  For my office, if I have a choice between preserving old records or cutting something that I need to do now or a staff member, I am going to wait on the records.
          2. Amanda: I would like to clarify my comment because when you rephrased that it was not what I said.  The Library does not want to be in charge of the County records as Sarah clarified.  The Library believes there are many records that belong to the County and they need the inventory to determine what is there.  If they need to separate items they are open to discussing it.  Identification of what is in the Archives is what is needed.  The $150,000 was a multi-step including supplies and time in that value and it will most likely cost more in a post-COVID environment.  Certain funding may only be used for certain things.  Michelle’s role is to locate something that we may grab from to fund the inventory.  This was an info-gathering meeting for the CAOs office.
        10. Steve: Darin sent out what he called Minutes of the Task Force, which was 2 pages of notes.  If you weren’t in the meeting it was difficult to figure them out.  One of the lines was news to me that the Library is trying to distance themselves from the county records, which they signed up in 1965 to take care of.
          1. Deva: I wouldn’t characterize it as they signed up.  The County said I’ll keep my own records in 1965. 
          2. Steve: Where we will keep them is the Library management.  There is an agreement in place is my point.  Our continuing to talk about the roles and responsibilities is what this boils down to. 
        11. Joyce: clearly this deserves further discussion and we should move it to the next meeting.  It was a surprise for me when I was reading the notes from the Task Force that the Library doesn’t want the records anymore.  
      4. Strategic Planning
        1. Hold for next meeting for review
      5. Collections & Archives Recognition Awards
        1. Eric will check back in March 2021
      6. Outreach
        1. HRC / Archives Digital Handout has been sent out to the Library Commissioners by LC Reece Foxen
        2. Discussion on HRC sending a letter in support of the Archives to the Library Commission and Board of Supervisors
          1. Steve: Based on what I heard today I am not sure this would be an effective tool and wonder what the other commissioners think about that
          2. John: The message delivered on several levels have indicated little interest.
          3. Steve: That was my takeaway and I am discouraged about that.  many of the LC agree with us and feel like they have no power of the Library administration.  I think it will still be useful to talk with our various Supervisors that this is an important topic.  It may not be as important as COVID or fires, but there is public interest in the Archives.
          4. Eric: I agree with your assessment and we need to re-think the form our advocacy will take
        3. Steven Lovejoy served as host for the Sonoma County Heritage Network Meeting on January 9, 2021, on ZOOM.  There were 33 people that attended.  He talked about the HRC and the Archives and how important it was and to make their concerns to the BOS.
    7. New Business
      1. Open HRC Commissioner position(s)
        1. Received 4 applications
          1. Danielle Divine and Kevin Tellez Ramos no longer under consideration as they did not seem appropriate for the Historical Records Commission
          2. Move forward application for Gretchen Emmert and Margaret Purser to be nominated to the Board of Supervisors for 1 vacant and 1 soon-to-be vacant spot when Joyce submits official resignation.
            • Motion by Steven Lovejoy
            • Second by John Murphey
            • Approved
      2. Secretary to send Joyce possible Board dates so she will know the effective date for her resignation in order to maintain a quorum on the HRC.
      3. Secretary to update Bylaws to “once a month as determined by the Commission” instead of the current “Tuesday” meeting to be language neutral.  
    8. Public Comment
      1. Sonoma County Heritage Network Meeting, April 10, 2021, 10am to 12pm on ZOOM. 
      2. Next Library Commission meeting, February 1, 2021, ZOOM
        1. Joyce: Katherine, thank you for your careful review of the [LC] minutes and shining light on some things we are not aware of.
      3. Museum of Sonoma County Online Exhibits:
      4. Eric: Just in case, we would like to extend our deep gratitude to Joyce Sayed for her expertise and knowledge and time on the HRC. 
        • Joyce: Thank you, I appreciate that.  I still want to passionately argue to you that you do not decide something is not “Archival” because it is “Confidential”.  Otherwise we would not have any records from the JFK assassination.   The HRC should look into what “Archival” really means in the retention schedules. 
      5. Deborah Doyle:  I am here for public comment not as a Library Commissioner.  I wanted to remind everyone that earlier in the year when the pandemic first began the budgets had to be reviewed.  No one was sure what the rest of the year was going to look like.  The Library was very conservative and we re-did the budget in March and one of the things that had to go was the Inventory for the Archives.  We weren’t sure if we had to lay off staff so that seemed like something to cut.  It was not safe to go into the Archives until recently.  Budget has been re-reviewed and there may be funding for the inventory. One of the things we will probably meet at the next LC meeting will be whether or not we can re-do the budget.  One of the things we would be thinking about is if we can re-do the inventory.  The first step is to do the inventory to get the stuff in Archival boxes so it is safer.  The Library is committed to doing the inventory and putting that into safe boxes, whoever’s records they may be.  It is not that nobody wants to save the Archives and we are appreciative of the passionate voices about the Archives.  We also need to be aware that Libraries rarely have money to do this.  While we have had possession of the Archives, we have had no county funding for the Archives.  About 90% of those records belong to the County.  I encourage you to be aware that people are listening and things will move down the road.  Let us get the inventory done.  Try to believe that we are working on this.  I want there to be a plan very shortly, a relative term.  Historical records are important to me personally, living history is important to me personally.  We cannot do living history if we do not have historical records.  Please do not think that the LC is powerless because it is not.  Do not think we are not working on this project, do not think we are not going to ask other people in the community about it.  It is not just the County and not just the Library, it is all of us together to find a solution. 
        • Steve: Thank you Deborah for your passion on that and I am glad that we are getting feedback from the LC that we are being heard.  I am enthusiastic to find out if you have the budget to do the inventory.  Our point is that there are a lot of stakeholders that we would like to have in the conversation that the County and Library are having between themselves at the moment.  That is our major point of disagreement.  Yes, we understand that historical records are owned by the Library but they are County documents.  Tonight is the very first time that the public has heard that the Library does not want the records.
        • Deva: I think Amanda and I both said that is not what the comment was.  At no point during the meeting [of the Archives Task Force] did the Library ever say “we do not want these records”.  They are questioning if the Library is the appropriate place to hold county records based on a document that was signed in 1965.  Amanda and I are speaking for ourselves and we are not speaking for the Library.  I have heard that a couple times and that is not what the Library said.
        • Deborah: It was also one of the first meetings and they are trying to get everything out on the table.
    9. Meeting adjourned at 6:12PM

      Next Meeting - February 11, 2021 - WebEx, 4:00PM

      Contact Information

      Secretary of the Commission
      Historical Records Commission
      County of Sonoma
      Business Hours
      Monday – Friday
      8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
      Contact us by Phone

      Mailing Address

      Sonoma County Historical Records Commission

      585 Fiscal Drive, Rm 103

      Santa Rosa, CA 95403

      Meeting Location:

      Currently Virtual, link posted with Agenda

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