County Attorney Asks City of Austin for Records Related to Open Meetings Complaint
Former Mayor Wynn and Former Council Member McCracken Included
County Attorney David Escamilla has filed 10 requests under the Texas Public Information Act to obtain records related to his inquiry about the Austin City Council’s possible violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act.
The Austin Bulldog obtained copies of the county attorney’s requests from the city late today through an open records request.
The county attorney’s requests are addressed individually to the current mayor and city council members, and to the city manager.
Escamilla also filed requests with the city clerk, who is the city’s corporate custodian of records, to obtain applicable records pertaining to former Mayor Will Wynn and former City Council Member Brewster McCracken.
Contacted by The Austin Bulldog this evening, County Attorney Escamilla declined to comment about his open records requests.
Wynn and McCracken left the city council in June 2009. However, a violation of the Act under Section 551.143 of the Government Code is a misdemeanor. Therefore, under Article 12.02 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, an indictment or information could be filed within two years from the date of the commission of the offense, and not later.
If an offense under Section 551.143 is proven, it would be punishable by a fine of not less than $100 or more than $500; confinement in the county jail for not less than one month or more than six months; or both the fine and confinement.
Former Mayor Wynn did not immediately respond to a message left on his cell phone. Mayor Lee Leffingwell did not respond to a message left on his home voice mail.
McCracken said in an interview this evening that the councils on which he served (June 2003 through June 2009) always had tightly scheduled one-on-one meetings every week.
“My one-on-ones were typically the same time every week,” McCracken said. “There was usually a standing meeting time, usually on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. We would meet even in weeks when there were no council meetings.”
“We did not meet two-on-one during my time on the council,” McCracken said.
During his six years on the city council, McCracken said that some mayors he served with required public work sessions to be held, and some did not. Mayor Kirk Watson stopped them, he said. Mayor Gus Garcia restarted work sessions that were held on Wednesday mornings preceding the Thursday council meetings, and Mayor Will Wynn discontinued them, McCracken said.
What Escamilla requested
Each of Escamilla’s requests ask for “any and all legal opinions regarding the Open Meetings Act provided to any Council person, the Mayor or City Manager.”
The county attorney also asked for all of the calendars kept by the office holders or city manager or their staff members during the period they were in office.
In addition, the county attorney wants “all documents describing or explaining the policy, procedure, or practice of conducting ‘one on one’ or ‘two on one’ meetings between or among Council members, Council member(s) and the Mayor, Council members(s) and the City Manager or Mayor and City Manager … including but not limited to any correspondence, e-mails, briefing papers, and orientation or training materials.”
Finally, the county attorney asked for documents relating to meetings between or among Council members, Council member(s) and the Mayor, Council member(s) and City Manager or Mayor and City Manager on certain specified dates, including but not limited to internal agendas, notes, telephone logs or messages, e-mails, briefing papers, memoranda, or correspondence.
To read the open records requests filed with the city by the county attorney, click here.
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