Friday, May 09, 2008

FB Chronicle: Missouri City Officials Admit Errors Involved In TPIA/TOMA Complaint Filed With Attorney Generals Office

Complaint filed over access to information in Missouri City
Official: timing of press release an error, no law was violated
Houston Chronicle

Chris Calvin, a critic of the Missouri City municipal government and a Pecan Grove resident, has filed a complaint with Attorney General Greg Abbott's office requesting an investigation into possible violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act and the Texas Public Information Act by city officials.

The complaint filed on April 21 stemmed from a city press release dated March 4 that was handed out at the March 3 city council meeting. The pre-written release announced council's approval of the purchase of the Quail Valley Country Club before such action was taken at the March 3 meeting.

While the city's media relations specialist Elsa Maxey later retracted the release, saying it was an innocent error, Calvin said he smelled something "fishy."

"We found this odd considering the meeting hadn't taken place yet. Following this session, where they voted after the announcement, several of those in attendance decided we needed to dig a little further to attempt to ascertain if a meeting in violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act had taken place prior to the council session and official vote," Calvin wrote in his letter to the attorney general.

Calvin said supporters for the investigation also include Kevin Tunstall, candidate for the At-large Position 2 council seat.

Both Calvin and Tunstall have accused city officials, including Missouri City Mayor Allen Owen and most members of the city council, of allowing "special-interest groups" such as developers to influence city decisions. City officials have denied such allegations.

In explaining the premature release of the city council's decision on the purchase of the country club, Maxey offered an apology . . .

. . . Two weeks later, Calvin filed a request with City Secretary Patrice Fogarty for all documents pertaining to city-funded studies since 2005, including information on vendors involved in bidding, companies awarded contracts and the award amount as well as any action taken by the city administration on those matters.

Calvin also asked for text messages sent and received by city council members on their Blackberries that Calvin said are paid for by taxpayers.

Numerous e-mail exchanges have subsequently occurred between Calvin and Fogarty. While Calvin accused Fogarty of using "delay tactics" in "dodging" his public information request, Fogarty said she did everything within her responsibility to comply with the request under the law.

. . ."Council members don't do text messages. They do e-mails. I cannot produce something we don't have," Fogarty said.

Calvin said he is not buying what he was told and claimed that a former city council member told him that such text messages exist.


Go vote Saturday for positive change and a NEW beginning after decades of special interest control of the city agenda!

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Question: Do you trust Allen Owen, mayor of Missouri City, TX, to represent you rather than his Houston corporate backers?




3%  participating said yes  (n20)


91%  participating said no  (n573)


6%  participating responded not sure  (n39)


(N) sample =  632


Stay tuned as more surveys for coming elections are posted!

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