Letter to the Editor: Steven Farmer asks more questions

I have put in several requests in at City Hall to receive records under the Freedom of Information Act. Here are the following records I have requested.

  • All Text messages from all City Council members personal Cell Phone from October 18th 8am thru October 28th 9pm 2013
  • Request all tow tickets for Helms and Harris body shop for the past two years
  • Attorney’s Billing for August thru September 2013
  • Department Heads expenses from June thru August 2013
  • Request phone log for City Attorney and City Secretary on October 18th
  • Request all department heads vacation from May to August 2013

I have been getting some false information and I wanted to bring this to the Citizens where you can understand that we as a community should not have to put up with this type of behavior

When I requested the Texts for City Council Members it only Cost me $.10 cents. Bruce Utley was the only one that turned it in. Terri Murdock wasn’t at City Hall that day so I called the city’s attorney’s office, Brown and Hofmeister L.L.P. The lawyer, Lisa Mares told me she was told that the other City Council Members either didn’t have a cell phone or text or didn’t have both. I took it upon myself to use my resources and get the cell phone numbers of all the Council Members. I then sent them a random text. Those Council Members all texted me back a response. A few even called me. One member called me from his cell and then his work phone. I then went back to City Hall a few days later and decided to ask Terri Murdock if I would receive the rest of the Text Messages. I also asked how come I didn’t get a completed request. She said Frank Jackson doesn’t have a Cell, Dennis Perkins doesn’t have a cell phone, and the others can’t get the requested information. However, Bruce Utley was able to get the info. I wonder why all the different stories. Could this information possibly show that there might be a “Walking Quorum.”

I also requested the Attorney’s phone log and City Secretary’s phone log for October 18th. This date is significant because this was when Terri Murdock was terminated from the City of Italy. I recently received a letter from the City Attorney talking about the laws but one thing stood out. The lawyer stated this information is Attorney Client Privileged. I can respect that but Terri Murdock was terminated that day and we as Citizens pay him to represent the City not an employee that was terminated. This is a conflict of interest in my eyes. City Council is allowing these actions.

I am respectfully asking that these following people resign: Frank Jackson, Dennis Perkins, Bruce Utley, Greg Richards, Rodney Guthrie, Terri Murdock, and Edwin Voss (City Attorney)

The law that states that the governing body has to provide their Text messages if requested. This took effect on September 1, 2013

S.B. No. 1368
relating to public information pertaining to the official business
of governmental bodies and to contracts by certain state
governmental entities that involve the exchange or creation of
public information.
SECTION 1. Section 552.002, Government Code, is amended to
read as follows:

CONTAINING PUBLIC INFORMATION. (a) In this chapter, “public
information” means information that is written, produced,
collected, assembled, or maintained under a law or ordinance or in
connection with the transaction of official business:
(1) by a governmental body; [or]
(2) for a governmental body and the governmental body:
(A) owns the information; [or]
(B) has a right of access to the information; or
© spends or contributes public money for the
purpose of writing, producing, collecting, assembling, or
maintaining the information; or
(3) by an individual officer or employee of a
governmental body in the officer ’s or employee ’s official capacity
and the information pertains to official business of the
governmental body [it].

(a-1) Information is in connection with the transaction of
official business if the information is created by, transmitted to,
received by, or maintained by an officer or employee of the
governmental body in the officer ’s or employee ’s official capacity,
or a person or entity performing official business or a
governmental function on behalf of a governmental body, and
pertains to official business of the governmental body.
(a-2) The definition of “public information” provided by
Subsection (a) applies to and includes any electronic communication
created, transmitted, received, or maintained on any device if the
communication is in connection with the transaction of official
(b) The media on which public information is recorded
(1) paper;
(2) film;
(3) a magnetic, optical, [or] solid state, or other
device that can store an electronic signal;
(4) tape;
(5) Mylar; and
(6) any physical material on which information may be
recorded, including linen,[;
[(7)] silk,[;] and
[(8)] vellum.
© The general forms in which the media containing public
information exist include a book, paper, letter, document, e-mail,
Internet posting, text message, instant message, other electronic

S.B. No. 1368
communication, printout, photograph, film, tape, microfiche,
microfilm, photostat, sound recording, map, and drawing and a
voice, data, or video representation held in computer memory.
SECTION 2. Section 552.003, Government Code, is amended by
adding Subdivision (2-a) to read as follows:
(2-a) “Official business” means any matter over which a
governmental body has any authority, administrative duties, or
advisory duties.
SECTION 3. Subchapter Z, Chapter 2252, Government Code, is
amended by adding Section 2252.907 to read as follows:
PUBLIC INFORMATION. (a) A contract between a state governmental
entity and a nongovernmental vendor involving the exchange or
creation of public information as defined by Section 552.002 that
the state governmental entity collects, assembles, or maintains or
has a right of access to must:
(1) be drafted in consideration of the requirements of
Chapter 552; and
(2) contain a provision that requires the vendor to
make the information not otherwise excepted from disclosure under
Chapter 552 available in a specific format that is:
(A) agreed upon in the contract; and
(B) accessible by the public.
(b) This section may not be waived by contract or otherwise.
© request for public information regarding a contract
described by this section must be submitted to the officer or
employee responsible for responding to open records requests for

S.B. No. 1368
the state governmental entity that executed the contract.
(d) In this section, “state governmental entity” means a
state agency, board, commission, office, department, or other
agency in the executive or legislative branch of state government.
SECTION 4. Section 2252.907, Government Code, as added by
this Act, applies only to a contract for which a state governmental
entity first advertises or otherwise solicits bids, proposals,
offers, or qualifications on or after the effective date of this
Act. A contract for which a state governmental entity advertised or
otherwise solicited bids, proposals, offers, or qualifications
before the effective date of this Act is governed by the law in
effect immediately before the effective date of this Act, and that
law is continued in effect for that purpose.
SECTION 5. This Act takes effect September 1, 2013.