Website Sues City Over Records Disclosures

Mar 2, 2011

The Austin Bulldog, a non-profit investigative website, has filed a lawsuit against the City of Austin and members of the City Council, alleging they did not disclose records in compliance with the Texas Public Information Act.

The Bulldog submitted a request in January for correspondence between council members, as part of its investigation into alleged violations of state open meetings laws. The city delivered a batch of emails last week, but the Bulldog claims the city did not turn over all communications, including those from council members' personal phones and email addresses, when those messages related to city business. The suit also seeks messages sent via an internal city hall instant messaging system called "Spark".

The Bulldog also claims city officials are using private email accounts to intentionally circumvent open records laws. The suit cites one case where a council member "asked a constituent to switch to the Council Member's personal email address to continue discussing the controversial--and obviously public business--topic of tax subsidies for The Domain shopping center".