Alamo Torch contributors’ inputs to city government and its bureaucracies — whether mailed, emailed or presented verbally — are consistently neglected. Has a Torch contributor ever received a written city government response to one of our questions or concerns? “There oughta be a law!”
Good news, friends. There is a law. (It is definitely worth the read!) The Texas Public Information Act provides at Section 552.001(a) this policy:
“Under the fundamental philosophy of the American constitutional form of representative govern-ment that adheres to the principle that government is the servant and not the master of the people, it is the policy of this state that each person is entitled, unless otherwise expressly provided by law, at all times to complete information about the affairs of government and the official acts of public officials and employees. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created. The provisions of this chapter shall be liberally construed to implement this policy.”
Our city government does not honor this segment of Texas law in these general terms or in the instance cited in this excerpt from our January 22 email to Assistant Texas Attorney General Cleve Doty (with copies to City Council):
“The attached February 13, 2017 Open Records Request of San Antonio’s CFO Ben Gorzell observed that the city’s ‘$850 Million Bond Program’ (the financial representation the city made to our voters) omitted issuance and interest costs which could increase the total taxpayer/voter commitment to $1.306 billion. CFO Gorzell refused to respond to the ORR, a prima facie criminal violation of the Texas Public Information Act and possibly, the Texas Election Code.”
Our January 22 email to Assistant AG Doty continued, “The McManus incident, which you may rule violates immigration law, is serious in isolation. When it is but another expression of endemic corruption, it betrays City Council negligence in allowing unelected bureaucracies to abuse their power. The city’s secessionist sanctuary attitude will be hard to dislodge in this environment. But
Governor Abbott promised, “I will vigilantly enforce open government laws and I will protect the public’s access to information. It’s essential to ensuring public confidence and accountability.”
Mr. Doty will, according to the January 11 Express-News, “investigate these (McManus) complaints, and the procedure in Senate Bill 4 (indicates) litigation.” We have also invited Mr. Doty to address the criminal violation of the TPIA by Ben Gorzell, another unelected bureaucrat.
The outcomes of these two matters will probably respond to: “When in conflict, which prevails, Texas State law or extra-legal behavior condoned by the San Antonio City Council?” Does Texas law really mean what it says about our citizens’ “right to know?”
The June 18 Express-News reported the Mayor’s aspiration in their article, “Nirenberg is painting the big picture”: “We also have to ensure that when the public does engage,…that their experience is one that exemplifies that the city government is there to serve, that they’re being listened to.” There is a chasm between this implied governmental transparency and the scofflaw behavior demonstrated in these two, possibly criminal violations. What Mr. Nirenberg neglects speaks so loudly I cannot hear what he says.
Stan Mitchell works at the intersection of politics and economics focusing on the lack of financial justification for major project spending by San Antonio unelected bureaucracies (MBA from Harvard Business School in 1955, focused by private sector experience financially analyzing major capital spending projects for an S&P 200 multi-national corporation) led him to becoming “the numbers guy” supporting the LetThePeopleVote Coalition that stopped VIA’s ill-advised streetcar project; he migrated to similar work for the SAMBA (San Antonio Making Bureaucracies Accountable) Coalition.