FOIA Tricks in Texas

Seems the City of Uvalde, Texas has thought of a few FOIA tricks even Michigan has not yet employed. It has outsourced its FOIA duties to a private law firm, who is wholesale denying every FOIA request and using a request for a state attorney general opinion for additional delay.

https://www.vice.com/en/article/88q95p/uvalde-contracts-private-law-firm-to-argue-it-doesnt-have-to-release-school-shooting-public-records

Last time I checked, the fact that information is “highly embarrassing” is not grounds for withholding it. The city has lumped all 148 FOIA requests into one and asked for a broad ruling from the Texas AG that all requested material is exempt from disclosure. Unclear what will be done with the “extreme emotional distress” argument.

A FOIA request for the actual contract between the city and the law firm for the FOIA babysitting job was denied because the law firm, after an allegedly diligent search, could not find any material responsive to this request. Case closed. https://twitter.com/foianate/status/1542164013068550145?s=10&t=cL-KqzTbZ-ZIwF3Py_jt7A.

Furthermore, body camera footage was designed to keep police accountable to the public. Instead, it seems to be released only if it allows them to regain the narrative and delay is always the name of the game. Legislators in all states should address this issue.

Thanks to a reader.