in Houston, Texas
Alamo Colleges releases applications for trustee after prodding by student journalists
Wednesday, Mar 07, 2012, 11:35AM CST
By Steve Miller
recorder

Sometimes government bodies do inexplicable things with regard to open records. We recall when the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association tried to prevent reporters from covering a board meeting, which was being held via teleconference.

That was in January 2011. Within five weeks, it would be discovered that the agency handed over pickups trucks and severance packages to fired employees. And shortly after that, the agency would be taken into receivership by the state and its general manager fired.

But one of the things that attracted our scrutiny in the first place was the disregard the agency held for openness.

Alamo Colleges, based in San Antonio, recently refused to hand over the applications of those running for trustee in an upcoming election to the school newspaper. The school required the students to submit a formal public records request even as a sitting trustee acknowledged there was "nothing in the ballot application that's not public."

Alamo came to its senses and released the apps to the paper, called The Ranger, likely after realizing it had no grounds to withhold them.

But there are other things that warrant attention, and The Ranger is doing a good job at trying to pry open the lid. A recent meeting of the board of trustees consisted only of the executive session, which was not fully disclosed, according to this story.

Even covering the student government is taking some work, as The Ranger found that the Student Activity Fee Committee recently allotted some funding in a meeting that failed to convene in the required quorum.

Alamo Colleges is not some small deal. The chancellor there brings down a salary of $319,000 a year, according to records, and even the human resources director hauls in $147,901 a year.

With that kind of money and some evasiveness, there is a dire need for oversight. The Ranger is in a good spot to do some good work.

***
Contact Steve Miller at 832-303-9420 or stevemiller@texaswatchdog.org.

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Photo of recorder and notebook by flickr user ali wade, used via a Creative Commons license.

Comments
Billy Medicine
Monday, 03/12/2012 - 01:26PM

The Ranger is a constant thorn in the side of the chancellor and the board at Alamo. It amazes me that the community college students who work on the paper care about such matters. Knowing firsthand how naive college freshmen and sophomores are, I've always wondered who's pulling the strings and pointing them in the direction of stories... and how that person keeps her/his job.

SAC AUUP
Monday, 04/09/2012 - 09:59AM

Community college students are not as naive as one might think. The function of The Ranger is not to be "a thorn in the side" but to be a light shining in dark corners. The editor and reporters of The Ranger take classes in journalism where they learn to embrace the very serious responsibility of freedom of the press. Bruce Leslie and the Board should consider putting that much effort into embracing one of the District's key values from their Strategic Plan - COMMUNICATION: We engage in open and transparent communication, information sharing, and collaboration.

- San Antonio College chapter of the American Association of University Professors

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