Ranger files open records request to receive board candidates’ information
Published: Monday, March 5, 2012
Updated: Monday, March 5, 2012 19:03
The Ranger has filed an open records request using the Texas Public Information Act to obtain applications for four positions on the Alamo Colleges board of trustees in the May 12 election.
Board liaison Sandra Mora would not release submitted ballot applications for the candidates to the public without receiving an open records request from The Ranger.
The Ranger submitted a request today to Nancy Kempf, district public information act officer.
District 7 trustee Blakely Fernandez, who is not seeking re-election, told The Ranger today that she does not know why the district would not release the ballot applications to the public.
"There's nothing in the ballot application that's not public," Fernandez said.
A blank application asks candidates on whom the public will vote their full name, name as they want it on the ballot, permanent and mailing addresses, email address, occupation, date of birth, home and office phone numbers and length of continuous residence.
Fernandez said the district would have to release the applications or seek an attorney general's opinion.
"I can't imagine they would not get a stern response from the attorney general to release them," she said.
Kempf replied via email and said, "By statute, we must respond to your request as soon as reasonably possible but no later than 10 business days after receipt of your request. We received your request on March 5, 2012. The Alamo Colleges offices will be closed March 15, 2012-March 18, 2012. Our deadline to respond to your request is no later than March 21, 2012."
According to the Texas Public Information Act, by the 10th business day after a governmental body receives a written request, the body must request an opinion from the attorney general's office and state which exceptions apply, notify the requestor of the referral to the attorney general and notify third parties if the request involves their proprietary information.
According to the act, failure to request an opinion and notify the requestor within 10 business days will result in presumption that the information is open unless there is a compelling reason to withhold it.
The office of the board liaison is acting as the election administrator for the Alamo Colleges board of trustees election until the district hires a new general counsel.
In a phone interview Feb. 27, Chancellor Bruce Leslie said the office of legal services handled past elections, but because district general counsel Retha Karnes left in January, the office was understaffed.
He said paralegal Pat Meurin is the only staff member in the office of legal services.
Leslie said allowing the office of the board liaison to handle the election would give applicants greater access to staff who can receive applications.
He said once the district hires a general counsel, the office of legal services will resume its responsibility as election administrator. Leslie said he hopes to have a candidate for general counsel to submit in time for the regular board meeting March 20.