Alamo Colleges' journalists force transparency on school's governance, board seeks new general counsel

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The student newspaper at Alamo Colleges fires off a brief synopsis of its frustration at trying to obtain the filing applications of board of trustee aspirants, as the board seeks to hire a new attorney.

The Ranger newspaper last month was refused the applications in what is clearly a violation of state open records statutes. The applications were eventually released although it’s unclear what prompted the turnabout.

General counsel Retha Karnes left the university in January, and a replacement was supposed to be on board by now. Out of 19 applicants, as The Ranger reports, it worth wondering what the hold-up is.

Karnes was the go-to for the board when it came to contesting open records requests. She was a Louisiana lawyer who passed her bar exam in Texas in 2006, according to records, and had been doing work for the colleges at least since 2009.

One of her last acts was to appeal an open records request for some information regarding a bid process, which the school mostly lost.

General counsel is a big position for a small group of colleges in how it conducts itself with regard to transparency, especially one that has been challenged in the past. It will be interesting to see who is selected.

It appears the board is not ready to consider Karnes’ replacement, according to meeting agendas. The Ranger has a top interest in who the new Karnes is, because a transparency hawk could be a great ally.

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

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Illustration by flickr user opensourceway, used via a Creative Commons license.