in Houston, Texas
Former Texas state official Phil Sims focus of document dump in Alabama mayor’s race
Wednesday, Aug 22, 2012, 11:11AM CST
By Steve Miller
wikileaks

National politics demands the WikiLeaks-styled assault that features past disorders and foul-ups, ever more relying on records and other documents.

But in small towns around the U.S., there is apparently a place for such things as well. Like the mayor’s race in Pinson, Ala., where court documents and minutes from a meeting in Anahuac, Texas were posted last week on a Pinson newspaper’s Web site.

The material dealt with current Pinson mayoral candidate Phil Sims and his tenure over two decades ago as city administrator of Anahuac, which is about an hour east of Houston. It also outlined how Sims was dismissed from his job and in 1991 filed a lawsuit for breach of contract and unlawful discharge. Some of the posting is here.

The documents, according to the newspaper, were received anonymously, and the reaction to the posting was mostly negative, accusing the paper of shading the race. In response to the stream of criticism on its Facebook site, the newspaper wrote that the package with the documents “had no return address.”

“Look, I'm only going to post on this one time,” someone at the paper wrote. “There's no agenda, [the newspaper] has a responsibility to inform the public of information regarding potential city leaders who have a history pertaining to city business.”

The town, population 7,163 in the 2010 census, was clearly not ready for such an airing of old public records, although a case could be made for the outing of all information in a political contest of any type.

Ironically, Sims, who was at one time Governor’s Ombudsman to Texas Gov. George W. Bush, is running on a platform that includes transparency.

We receive thick envelopes of material on a regular basis. Much of it is heartbreaking, tales of people trying to find a way to rectify battles with medical insurance, settle estates and tough battles with law enforcement and the courts. Sometimes you see it here after we have corroborated it with records requests and/or research of our own.

The Pinson newspaper has a case that the public should know, although a story should always accompany such a publishing in order to get a response from the affected parties. Otherwise, it is a simple document dump a la WikiLeaks.

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

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