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Open records request filed for Goliad

By Sara Sneath , SARA PRIEST
Aug. 20, 2014 at 3:30 p.m.


The former Goliad city administrator is questioning whether the mayor and council members have violated the state's Open Meeting walking quorum provision.

Larry Zermeno, whose resignation from the city administrator position was effective at the end of July, filed an open records request with the city for the text messages sent and received during open council meetings beginning at the start of the term.

"I believe they were observed texting," Zermeno said. "I wanted to figure out what was going on during the open meetings, because what goes on in an open meeting should be open."

The city secretary, Pam Long, responded to Zermeno's request Wednesday. In the response, Long wrote that she asked each of the council members and the mayor if they texted during open council meetings.

Mayor Anna Machacek, council members Joey Thompson, Liz Holsey, Cheryl Worley and previous council members Buddy Zavesky and Lionel Garcia all denied using their personal cellphones during open city council meetings, Long wrote in the open records request response.

Zermeno said the Attorney General's Office will have to decide if the response is adequate.

"If they did (text) and they didn't report it I think they are in violation of the law," Zermeno said.

Thompson may have been seen using his personal phone on July 21, when the council attempted to hold a special meeting to fill council seats. The meeting began about 20 minutes late. During that period, Thompson pulled out his phone to look at Facebook, he said.

Holsey also used her phone during that period to send a text message to her husband, she said.

Holsey and Thompson both said they would hand over their cellphone records for the time during open city council meetings, if requested.

Text messages having to do with city business, even if made from a personal cellphone, are public record, said Kelley Shannon, executive director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. Though Zermeno limited his request to the time of the council meetings, business related text messages between council at any point are public record, she said.

Thompson is a Navy veteran and held a security clearance while serving in the military. He has never had his integrity or job performance questioned before, he said.

"It's a little disappointing to have people in the city to have accusations like this for no reason. To make this such a political thing, is a little ridiculous," Thompson said. "

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