It’s time for the City of Amarillo to stop stonewalling requests for public information.
This week, a handful of Open Records Act requests I filed with the City of Amarillo were sent to the Texas Attorney General for permission to withhold the information I was requesting. This is not uncommon, so it was not a huge concern, as a verdict is likely to be rendered on the request within the 45 day window. However, what is uncommon is the recent rate at which the City has seemed to have been sending requests to the Attorney General.
I spoke this week to several journalists and community members who frequently file Open Records Act requests. Every person I spoke to confirmed the rate of requests being sent to the Attorney General has seemed to have been on an uptick. One Amarillo resident even said all of the requests she has been involved with to his point have been sent to the Attorney General over the past few months.
There is nothing wrong with the Attorney General making determinations, as I have faith his office will do the right thing. What is wrong is if the City of Amarillo’s is using the appeal method as a way to avoid having to release information to the public. I am not alleging this to be the case, but, in my opinion, this seems to be a real possibility.
Citizens have a right to access general information produced in the course of the government’s operations. The City of Amarillo should stop stonewalling citizens and the media and release information the public deserves to see.
-Thomas Warren III, Editor-in-Chief