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The 13th Court of Appeals in Corpus Christi has granted the Calhoun Port Authority an extension in the Texas Open Meetings Act lawsuit it is embroiled in.

The port was going to have to file a brief for its appeal of the lawsuit brought by the Victoria Advocate but now won’t have to until Nov. 14. The port is appealing the ruling of Bobby Bell, judge of the 267th District Court. Bell ruled earlier this year that the lawsuit should proceed.

The lawsuit stems from the May 9 hiring of former Congressman Blake Farenthold as a lobbyist. The Advocate claims the agenda did not properly notify the public because it did not include Farenthold’s name, position or salary. The port disagrees, but its attorney for the case, Bill Cobb, did not return calls for additional comment.

The case was going to go to trial in September, but the port’s appeal of Bell’s ruling delayed that. That means the port continues to pay Farenthold about $13,000 a month without the requirement to document what he’s doing for that money.

“The newspaper and the public believe this matter should be resolved quickly, given the taxpayer funds are being expended and the port seems to be engaging in delay tactic after delay tactic,” the Advocate’s attorney, John Griffin, said. Griffin said that if the Advocate prevails in this case, the taxpayers cannot get their money back because Farenthold is not part of the lawsuit.

“The money that’s been paid to him will unfortunately remain in his pocket, and that’s why the Advocate will be asking the Court of Appeals to move quickly,” he said.

Jessica Priest reports on the environment and Calhoun County for the Victoria Advocate. She may be reached at jpriest@vicad.com or 361-580-6521.

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Environment/Investigations Reporter

Jessica Priest has done a little bit of everything since moving to Victoria in 2012. She was a regular fixture in the Crossroads’ historic courthouses, but now slathers on the sunscreen to report on the environment.

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