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At Wednesday night's dinner, the deputy AG said his office received 700 complaints from the public about requests for information not being responded to in the time period allowed for by the law -- or at all in some cases. When this happens, the AG's office intervenes and tries to get the public entity to do the public's business.
I encourage you and all others interested in seeing the public's business done in public to check out the resources at the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas Web site. You may subscribe to a free newsletter there and become a member. The foundation needs your support.
Mandy Crawford, head of the AG's open records division, also spoke Wednesday night. She encouraged everyone having trouble getting public records to contact her office. Thank you for your interest in public records. This really is an issue that should matter to everyone.
.Beneficial as a shield law would be, getting the bill through this Lege is unlikely.
One thing the AG could do to help the free flow of information would be to keep his promise to punish government officials who flout the Texas Open Records Law.
For decades local governments have ignored Freedom of Information requests, or issued refusals to comply "pending a review of the particular request by the Attorney General".
When Gregg Abbott took office, one of his first acts was to put elected officials and local government entities across the state on notice that he means to put an end to that tactic. A bulletin prepared by his office informed governments that virtually everything in their possession is subject to examination by citizens on request. He explained the few exceptions to disclosure, and issued a press release warning officials there would be penalties for violating this basic right.
We have a serial offender right here in Victoria County. Big surprise, it's Criminal District Attorney Stephen Tyler. He has repeatedly denied open records requests and repeatedly been forced to comply by the AG. Tyler even has an AGO with his name on it for refusing to obey an open records request.
If Mr. Abbott needs to make an example out of an FOI violator, we have his perfect target..