Friday, February 4, 2011

Follow Up Video Of Stonewalling Public Information Request -

Public officials unnamed, hostile, staring, aggressive, resentful at Waco P.D.

Watching video produced by R.S. Gates to follow up on an earlier story about Waco's city administration stonewalling public information requests, one is immediately struck by the hostility and uncivil demeanor of the public officials thus depicted.

No one bothers to introduce themselves.

You'd might as well be a stray dog standing by wagging your tail. Best to keep the pie hole shut. They could summon the dog catcher at any moment.

Police officers, the custodian of records – referred to as the public information clerk – receptionists and file clerks remain nameless, hostile, staring, insolent.

The situation is obvious. Someone at the top of the pyramid has imposed an information blackout to all but those chosen to know the truth about terribly antisocial behavior among the criminal element and the law enforcement community in this central hub city, transportation hot link, agribusiness regional capitol and home of the nation's largest religious university, Baylor, a fundamentalist Baptist institution and hotbed of neoconservative politics.

The fact that under Texas statutes these people have not the right or the privilege to do so is hardly a consideration.

It's understood. Requests for prompt production of public information about crimes and arrests are way, way, way, way out of line – as Lt. Hauk said in “Good Morning, Vietnam,” that seminal blockbuster cinematic work about government censorship when the clutch is in and lives hang in the balance.

In the videos, Mr. Gates arrives at the public information window, a bullet-proof affair in the lobby of police headquarters. He says he is there to follow up on his request for information regarding the multiple arrests and serial offenses of a certain young man who has made repeated assaults on people.

He is referred to the Legal Department at City Hall, the office of the City Attorney, Leah Hayes, who demands that he fill out a public information request form listing his name, address, phone number and other information not required by Section 552 of the Texas Government Code to obtain such information – promptly.

They say they have 10 days to supply the information, and when they do, they will have to have some address or phone number with which to communicate directly with Mr. Gates at that time.

He refuses. A police officer is summoned after great protest on the part of the civil servants servicing his request.

Mr. Gates wishes to file a criminal complaint against the custodian of records. “It's a jail-able offense,” he tells the unnamed officer, a uniformed patrolman who did not bother to introduce himself.

He is told that he must communicate directly with the office of the city attorney.

The implication is clear.

They are clearing the decks for litigation. No one is willing to talk on the record about what will obviously become an allegation of complaint in a civil petition to a State District Court.

But there is one more domino to be played.

Mr. Gates intends to take the matter up with an attorney.

Not the Attorney General or the attorneys who serve him in the Open Records Division of that office.

He wants the District Attorney to file a criminal complaint against the responsible persons at the Waco City Police Department and City Attorney's office.

Stay tuned.

R.S. Gates is a certified peace officer. He is not a professional newsman or cameraman.

That is why he did not allow The Legendary to publish his video.

It could become evidence in a civil proceeding, a criminal complaint, or both.

In the alternative, we can offer you some dialogue from a popular film, Mr. Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction."

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