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Councilman releases emails, still not in compliance with records request

By Melissa Crowe
June 17, 2013 at 1:17 a.m.
Updated June 18, 2013 at 1:18 a.m.


In the spirit of transparency, one Victoria City Council member released a month of city-related emails and plans to release a year's worth of correspondence soon.

However, that same councilman, Emett Alvarez, has not made phone records available, which the Advocate formally requested May 21.

By not making those records available by state requirements, Alvarez could be in violation of the Public Information Act.

Council members David Hagan, Josephine Soliz and Joe Truman have also not released their phone records, which could shed light on a possible Open Meetings Act violation that occurred before the May 14 City Council meeting.

He said he is still waiting on his phone bills to come in the mail, which he expected last week.

"As soon as I get them, I'm going to forward them to Thomas" Gwosdz, the city attorney, Alvarez said.

Alvarez posted the emails to a Facebook profile he created June 12, after redacting email addresses for public servants, email recipients and entire blocks of text. Ultimately, he plans to make about 1,100 messages available for review.

An email from May 16 from Gwosdz instructed Alvarez and the other recipients, whose names have been redacted, to turn in their city-owned iPads.

Alvarez wrote back that he wants to see correspondence on assistant city attorney Linda Champion's iPad and correspondence sent to Torin Bales, Vic Caldwell, Jeff Bauknight, Clay Cain and any attorneys who Thomas communicated with May 13-14.

However, Alvarez withdrew his request May 20, according to the emails he released.

"From Revista's point of view, we would follow the story, too," Alvarez said. "Being a council member, that puts me in an insider position, and I didn't want to create a conflict of interest. I just withdrew it. I'm not going to pursue that."

Alvarez is the managing editor/owner of Revista de Victoria, a Spanish-language monthly newspaper.

He said he chose Facebook as his microphone so anybody who wants to see it can. He also said he would make copies available for people who do not have accounts with the social media website.

"The public has a right to know what we're doing," Alvarez said. "I'm going to set the example."

He wants to establish a policy for all city-business emails to be available for public review.

"If it's city business, so be it," Alvarez said. "Let the citizens know what it is that we're working on."

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