Our View: Whose iPad is that, anyway?

Nov. 28, 2012 @ 01:02 AM

Fortunately for all concerned, High Point City Councilman Mike Pugh, who’s leaving Council soon, has decided not to spark a fight over his city-issued iPad.  And that’s especially good for Pugh – he wasn’t going to win such a battle.
The iPad Pugh has been using the last few months is owned by the taxpayers of High Point, not Councilman Pugh. That is unless Pugh wants to pay the city’s taxpayers $300 and then be able to call that iPad his own. The rules are pretty clear here ... no gray area.
Granted, Pugh may be correct in saying he has confidential information on the hard-drive of his iPad that he gathered in the course of his service on City Council that should remain confidential. And he’s believable in claiming that he’s saved the city much more money than the nearly $600 cost of the iPad when it was new.
But the fact of the matter is that Pugh’s iPad is a loaner from the taxpayers, and he signed a contract stating as much. Case closed.
Earlier this year, High Point offered to members of City Council the chance to use iPads in conducting city business. Several members took the offer, and several others decided to use their personal iPads for conducting city business. It’s fine for members to use their own electronic/computer equipment to conduct city business. But they also must remember that the city business they conduct on their private equipment is still the public’s business and not information that can be concealed simply because it’s on their private equipment.
As for the idea of the city providing iPads for members of City Council, the nearly $5,400 that would be incurred for equipping all nine members of Council is a lot of money. However, in this electronic age, that’s a good investment to allow those officials to access information and to stay up to date on matters impacting the city.
The electronic equipment also is useful for allowing Council members to stay in contact with the taxpayers they represent – the folks who actually own those iPads.