in Houston, Texas
Galveston Housing Authority thwarts transparency with rule for formal public information requests: Galveston Daily News
Wednesday, Jul 06, 2011, 04:58PM CST
By Kevin Lee
galveston

The Galveston Housing Authority should stop requiring people who are seeking information to file formal requests under the Texas Public Information Act, the Galveston Daily News opines Wednesday.

Galveston Daily News editor Heber Taylor writes that the requirement “doesn’t help promote the image of an agency that wants to be open and accountable."

The newspaper cites the recent attempt by Galveston City Councilwoman Elizabeth Beeton to get records of insurance proceeds since Hurricane Ike, fees paid to consultants, the agency’s annual financial report, and information on a developer selected to receive agency funds
The housing authority asked her to withdraw the request to spare the agency the time and expense of seeking an attorney general’s opinion on whether it had to release the information, saying that much of the deal is still up in the air. …

The open records act does not allow governments to pick and choose which records it finds politically convenient to release. The housing authority’s action in suggesting it would go to the attorney general to try to prevent the release of that information just makes it appear the agency is committed to the absolute minimum of openness the law requires.

That’s a position even the housing authority’s friends can’t defend.
Beeton has advocated for public housing destroyed by Hurricane Ike to be rebuilt on the mainland, to no avail. The city council is scheduled to vote next week on whether to provide $5 million to the housing authority to begin permitting, completing appraisals, drafting plans and acquiring property.
 
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Contact Kevin Lee at 713-228-3733 or kevin@texaswatchdog.org.

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