Anybody who has been trapped in a car trying to get home in bumper-to-bumper traffic understands how infuriating it is. You feel helpless and frustrated at whatever is tying up traffic.
So it is no surprise that when it was revealed that Bridget Anne Kelly, chief of staff to N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, orchestrated the tie up on the George Washington Bridge last month, a firestorm resulted in Kelly’s firing. Apparently the intentional traffic tie up was payback for the Mayor of Fort Lee, N.J. not supporting Christie’s re-election bid.
At the center of the storm was one email Kelly wrote that said “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
It seems that every political and business scandal brings with it incriminating emails. The fact that people, especially those in positions of power who do evil things, put their bad intentions in writing is hard to believe and understand. The first lesson of using email is never put in writing anything you don’t want the world to see, because it may.
Actually, the first lesson is not to do things that are illegal or stupid. But if someone wants to put their career and the safety of others in jeopardy, at least have the sense to not put it in writing.
Every email that is sent has the potential to be forwarded to someone else without the original sender’s knowledge. More scary is the fact that email recipients can be careless and send your email to someone else not remembering or realizing that it is part of a thread. I have received emails from people that included other email correspondence that was not for my eyes. Perhaps you have as well.
But it is worse for those who work in the public sector. The email communication by elected officials and their staff are the property of the government, not the sender or receiver. That’s why many who work in the public sector use personal email accounts to send messages they don’t want made public. But there is never any guarantee that it won’t be revealed by someone somehow.
The lesson is simple. Every email is a document and if you don’t want to see it again in court or at your dismissal meeting, don’t put it in writing.
Christie fired Bridget Anne Kelly, a deputy chief of staff who apparently engineered the closures and who said in emails: Christie said she lied to him about the issue.