Pinellas County uses tax dollars to spam itself – sends emails to employees who left 10 years ago

Pinellas County government spends tax dollars with a vendor to send e-mails to undeliverable county government e-mail addresses, a Guardian review shows.  One of the e-mail addresses belonged to Steve Spratt, the county administrator who resigned in 2007 after “the fiasco surrounding Property Appraiser Jim Smith’s land deal.”

Also among the dead e-mail addresses were those of county attorney Susan Churuti (fired in 2007, also over the Jim Smith insider land deal), former county commissioner Ronnie Duncan (left in 2008, after lying in the Jim Smith land deal), former commissioner Susan Latvala (left in 2014) and county administrator Bob LaSala (fired in April 2014).

Missed-TargetOf the 1,209 county e-mail addresses on the county’s list totaling 11,067 total e-mail addresses, 18% were found to be undeliverable, or “dead” in common parlance.

Dead e-mail addresses matter because the the size of the list matters. Pinellas County uses a company called Constant Contact which charges a monthly fee based on the number of e-mail addresses on the list.

Accounting records shows that Pinellas County spends $250 per month with Constant Contact.

Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) also uses Constant Contact. Based on a sampling of 1,000 e-mail addresses, the rate of dead internal e-mail addresses is over 4%. This is a great improvement over early 2014 when the rate was over 20%.

For those less technical, we put it another way: the county uses a third party to send e-mails to people who already left county government. Even though the county provides the list of county employee e-mail addresses, 18% of those e-mail addresses are dead.

Dead e-mail addresses also matter for another reason: if a mail server receives a mass e-mail come and delivery is being attempted to many dead e-mail addresses, then the e-mail is more likely to be labelled as spam, and not get through. In order to insure that e-mails get through, the percentage of dead e-mail addresses should be kept to a minimum.

As always, the Guardian reports and the readers decide.


As always, the Guardian reports and the readers decide.

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