Tuesday, January 17, 2006

More info on how to file open records requests

In response to a reader's query regarding the last Grits post:

For more information
about requesting information under Texas' open records laws (or how to respond to open records requests, for that matter, as a representative of a government agency in Texas), consult the comprehensive manual from the Texas Attorney General, which has recently been updated to include changes from the 79th (2005) Legislature. It'll tell you what's public, what's not, how to ask for information and when agencies have to respond - a great resource, as is the rest of their website.

As an aside,
I've been filing open records requests in Texas, sometimes en masse, like this one, since the late '80s, and Greg Abbott has been the best open-records AG in Texas since Jim Mattox, IMO. The Legislature and special interests keep chipping away at open government in Texas every two years, but the folks in Abbott's open records shop fight hard to protect what's left. That's a refreshing contrast to, say, Dan Morales, who often seemed to look for excuses to allow exceptions. We have a relatively strong open records law in Texas, but it's a lot stronger when the AG enforces the public's rights, and when agencies respect the law and hand over the documents they should in the first place. Most do, but I could tell you stories ...

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm considering making my first vote ever for a Republican be for Greg Abbott just because of his open records policy.

Evan said...

I'd love to hear the stories.

The first candidate I ever worked for got in lots of trouble with her colleagues in a nonpartisan city council because she filed an open records request against them. They refused (well, more than that, but let's keep the story simple). She sued. She won. They appealed. She won.

I have a soft spot in my heart for open records requests.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

@evan: I'm constantly amazed at agencies trying to conceal clearly public records, see here, e.g.. I've had agencies ask for tens of thousands of dollars to produce records. I've had agencies tell me zero records were public, not one, then after an AG decision they released banker boxes full. The very worst two agencies in the state, IMO, are the City of Austin and UT. Along with the Texas Municipal League, UT is also the primary lobby force at the Lege every year to close currently open records.

@anonymous: Open records policy is actually the reason I voted for Greg Abbott over Kirk Watson. I support Watson for state senator, but as Mayor he showed little but disdain for open government, and I couldn't in good conscience vote to put him in charge of Texas' open records appeals. State senator is a better fit, methinks. Best,