Searchable Mayor and Council E-mails

HomeCity of AustinCity CouncilSearchable Mayor and Council E-mails

Treasure Trove of Public Documents  Made Available in Searchable Format

E-mails, Text Messages, Meeting Notes Obtained Through Open Records, Lawsuit

While many e-mails exchanged by the Austin mayor and city council members have been made public previously, as they were released in large batches by the city or dribbled out in small quantities by individual council members, The Austin Bulldog continues to get requests for these files to be made available in a searchable format.

To that end, this report consolidates all records previously made public, adds hundreds of new records, and presents them in searchable files.

All told, The Austin Bulldog obtained more than 4,800 pages of public records through a series of requests filed under the Texas Public Information Act and a lawsuit against the mayor, council members and City of Austin.

More than 600 pages of these records—in the lingo used by the City of Austin—came out of computer folders titled “deleted” or in “dumpsters” that were not searched initially in response to our open records requests. Salvaging these records is important because otherwise they could have been permanently removed at the touch of a button, in possible violation of state law and city regulations governing records retention.

More than 500 pages of these never before published records were obtained from City Manager Marc Ott, including a volume of notes in his own, fairly legible handwriting that reflect the topics discussed with the mayor and council members during private one-on-one meetings.

The Austin Bulldog’s lawsuit triggered the release of about 1,500 pages of these e-mails. These include:

• E-mails about city business that were sent or received using the mayor and council members private e-mail accounts (almost 300 pages).

• E-mails about city business that Council Member Bill Spelman sent on his University of Texas account (200 pages).

• E-mails located by the city’s Communications and Technology Management (CTM) office through additional searches for responsive records (1,000 pages).

The documents

With the exception of the city manager’s handwritten notes, all of these records are presented in Portable Document Format (pdf) files that have been converted from image files to text recognition files to allow comprehensive searches.

The Austin Bulldog’s open records requests asked for only those e-mails exchanged by the mayor, council members and city manager from January 1, 2010, through January 27, 2011. Our request did not ask for e-mails about any particular topic. E-mail exchanges that included other individuals are only incidental.

Mayor Lee Leffingwell:

Initial release: 95 pages

CTM search: 19 pages

Personal e-mail accounts: 116 pages

Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez:

First and second releases: 370 pages (including 2010 e-mails that were not originally provided)

CTM search: 14 pages

Personal e-mail accounts: 14 pages

Council Member Sheryl Cole:

Initial release: 369 pages

CTM search: 96 pages

Personal e-mail accounts: 9 pages

Council Member Laura Morrison:

Initial release: 360 pages

CTM search: 10 pages

Personal e-mail accounts: 11 pages

Text messages: 34 pages

Council Member Chris Riley:

Initial release: 217 pages

CTM search: 276 pages

Personal e-mail accounts: 34 pages

Council Member Randi Shade:

Initial release: 706 pages: Pages 1-350 and Pages 351-706

CTM search 582 pages: Pages 1-300 and Pages 301-582

Personal e-mail accounts: 104 pages

Council Member Bill Spelman:

Initial release: 15 pages

CTM search: 1 page

Initial University of Texas account release: 10 pages

Second University of Texas account release: 199 pages

“Deleted” e-mails for all council members 601 pages:

Pages 1-150

Pages 151-300

Pages 301-450

Pages 451-601

City Manager Marc Ott’s notes and documents involving meetings with:

Mayor Leffingwell: 45 pages

Mayor Pro Tem Martinez: 83 pages

Council Member Cole: 16 pages

Council Member Morrison: 126 pages

Council Member Riley: 148 pages

Council Member Shade: 45 pages

Council Member Spelman: 49 pages

Answers to council members’ questions supplied by the city manager’s office: 63 pages

This report was made possible by contributions to The Austin Bulldog, which operates as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit to provide investigative reporting in the public interest. You can help to sustain The Austin Bulldog’s reporting by making a tax-deductible contribution.

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