in Houston, Texas
McAllen withholds info about firefighter's firing, but story gets out anyhow
Tuesday, Jan 04, 2011, 12:13PM CST
By Steve Miller
Antique fire truck

Sometimes not getting all the public records requested doesn’t matter; the story can be told with those that are provided.

In McAllen, the Monitor newspaper filed a request for documents related to an incident in which a city fire official backed over a mailbox with a fire engine, then attempted to cover it up.

According to a story, the city denied the request for the documents, citing personnel issue exemptions in the state’s public records law. The city did, however, provide a seven-page report on the matter that not only detailed the event, but also cited city policy that warranted the firing of Lt. Marcos Reyes.

The situation isn't ideal -- we'd like to know more about the city's rationale for withholding documents pertaining to disciplinary actions against a city worker, and as the Monitor story says, the seven-page investigative report failed to explain who owned the mailbox in question, why the fire truck was at that location on Halloween night, and the extent of the damage to the truck. 


But it's a good example of how diligent reporters can use public records to get the story out to the public, even when the information released is not complete.

Contact Steve Miller at

Antique fire truck photo by flickr user Krystn Palmer Photography, used under a Creative Commons license.

Thursday, 01/06/2011 - 11:13AM

If it is not a criminal case, you can get the records through The Open Records Act. If you do not get them, call the Atty Generals office and ask for the Open Records hotline. Believe me, you can get them, be persistent.

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