Star-Telegram columnist Dave Lieber discussed in a weekend column his effort to obtain police records in Fort Worth, finding that the city unduly prolongs public records requests.
Lieber, who also runs an excellent blog called Watchdog Nation, was doing his own test of a Star-Telegram story last summer that found Fort Worth appealed to the state Attorney General’s office “far more than other Texas cities of similar size with questions or arguments about excluding or withholding records.”
Lieber asked for e-mails and personnel records for a police officer on Nov. 11. The request was appealed Nov. 29. The AG came back in favor of Lieber on Feb. 7. Fort Worth finally released the records April 2, more than a month after Lieber filed a complaint with the AG.
For some commonly requested e-mails and personnel records, a wait time of almost five months.
And here’s the kicker: Lieber was requesting the same records that had been denied another requestor last year, with the city claiming that the e-mails had been deleted from the city’s computer server.
There are too many agencies, cities and other public bodies skirting sunshine laws, most recently the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. We did a wrapup of open records issues in the state in 2010, and it appears things have not gotten much better.
Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Photo of a police badge by flickr user davidsonscott15, used via a Creative Commons license.