Monday, October 31, 2011

Waco City Attorney to resign effective 1/1/12

Waco - Waco City Attorney Leah Hayes has tendered her resignation following a dispute with real estate operators and newspaper executives about release of public information.

According to Waco City Manager Larry Groth, "She's turned in her resignation at the end of the year."

In an ongoing disagreement that has been brewing for more than a year, Ms. Hayes and her staff insisted that such public information as arrest and offense reports, affidavits of probable cause in support of arrest warrants, and bail information is subject to a 10-day delay for review by the City Attorney's office.

Actually, Section 552 of the Texas Open Records Act, a part of the Texas Local Government Code, specifies that all such documentation should be turned over to the public "promptly."

There is a provision for a 10-day review period when an item is the subject of ongoing litigation, but only under specific circumstances and not as a blanket policy.

Work product of investigations such as polygraph exams, lab work, ballistics and finger reports, witness statements and other sensitive information such as litigation, real estate transations, personnel actions, medical records, mental health commitments and juvenile arrest records are excepted.

Ms. Hayes withheld information about the $16.5 million redevelopment of Parkside Village, a blighted low income housing project that extends from the 1200 to the 1400 block of N. 9th St. in the Brook Oaks neighborhood. At the same time, she allegedly showed the redevelopment plans to other real estate and construction executives.

Mr. Groth reversed her policy and showed the plans and other information to the staff of the local newspaper.

The Waco "Tribune-Herald" editorialized against Ms. Hayes' policy, which led to a hubub among members of the City Council and the Mayor.

Parkside Village

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