The release of city employees' home addresses, a controversial campaign issue in the past, will be debated by the City Council on Tuesday night when it considers a proposal to prevent the city from releasing personal information on any city employee.
The ban would ensure the privacy of city employees, said Councilman Richards L. Norton, who made the proposal.
City Atty. Edward J. Cooper opposes the idea because state law already prohibits the release of confidential information about employees, he said.
"Since the proposed ordinance is more restrictive than state law, in our opinion it would be preempted and unenforceable," Cooper wrote in a two-page memo to the council.
Norton argued that the proposed ban is a precautionary step.
"With such an ordinance, you can never release this kind of information in the future. It would ban it outright," he said.
The release of home addresses has been a sore point between Norton and Councilman Daniel E. Griset, who usually vote on opposite sides of issues.
The proposal stems from a dispute about whether the city can legally release the addresses of its police officers, a point that flared up in a 1988 council race between Griset and Norton.
That year, Griset, on behalf of a neighborhood organization, had sent campaign letters to about 300 members of the Santa Ana Police Benevolent Assn., the police officers' union.
Attorneys for the union sought and received a court order to stop the release of their home addresses. The union argued that officers feared that their addresses had somehow been made available to the public and that they feared for their families' safety. But Griset's attorney argued that as a city official, he was entitled to such information.
Griset described the current proposal by Norton as being a "window-dressing motion."
"It lacks substance and is designed to take attention away from real issues," Griset said.