Cell phones have become as much a necessity as your calendar and your car keys. Unfortunately, this becomes a problem if you are a government employee.
Let's say you are an employee of a state university. Let's say the university supplies you a cell phone for your use on the job. The university pays the bill. Clearly, because the records of the state university are public under the sunshine law, those bills are public records.
A reporter called today to note that the requested copies of the bills arrived in his office with redacted phone numbers on them. When he questioned why those numbers were redacted, he was told they were personal phone calls made on the university-owned phones and that the numbers were redacted for that reason.
Sorry, Charlie. That doesn't work. Those records are public records. (In fact, there's case law in Missouri stating that point, so we don't have to argue about the interpretation of the words in the sunshine law about that issue.) Unless there's an exception in 610.021 (which there isn't -- I'll save you looking for one) that says that these numbers are a closed record, all the data in those bills is open to the public. I don't care if you have repaid the university for those calls (which maybe they have and maybe they haven't), it doesn't make that data private. There's no exception for calls to private telephone numbers made on phones owned by a public governmental body.
Even thought about getting two cell phones? No, of course not. It's cheaper to just use the university's phone, isn't it? But what's the price you pay for being cheap? You lose your right to privacy. There's a cost to everything. Talk is cheap. Public disclosure is what can be costly....Maybe in this case, the cost is greater than you realized....