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Dallas Council Hides Uber Discussion From Public

Today the mayor’s report on his investigation into l’affaire Uber was to be made public. Still should be, but the Dallas City Council went into executive (closed) session just before noon to discuss the findings among themselves before daring to let the public hear about it.

Tod Robberson at the Morning News roundly, and rightly, criticizes this decision:

The law is not designed to give governing bodies an excuse to go behind closed doors and exclude the public. The law is designed to block governing bodies from making such excuses. It is designed to impose transparency at times when elected officials least want to have their dirty laundry aired in public.

The most embarrassing excuses for going behind closed doors were offered by council members Carolyn Davis and Dwaine Caraway, neither of whom demonstrate even a passing understanding of the Texas Open Meetings Act. Davis thinks that since the council did it before (inappropriately) in the case of the fracking debate, it’s OK to do it again (inappropriately). Besides, there were “some things” that she wanted to discuss, and she didn’t want to do it in front of the public, Davis said. Therefore, she thought executive session was warranted.

There’s only one problem: Nowhere in the law does it say that, when an elected official doesn’t want to discuss “some things” in public, it’s OK to exclude the public. The limitations are very specific on when the law may be invoked. It’s not supposed to be invoked as a matter of routine. It’s supposed to be used only under exceptional abd well-outlined circumstances.

We continue to await their return.

  • Tim Rogers

    Perhaps the greatest service, in the end, that Uber will provide the city of Dallas is not getting its citizens from point A to point B but showing us plainly how rotten City Hall has become.

  • Uppercase Matt

    52. What are the general subjects for which a governing body may hold a closed meeting?
    Under the Act, a governing body may generally hold a closed meeting for one or more of the
    following nine reasons:
    1. consideration of specific personnel matters;
    2. certain consultations with its attorney;
    3. discussions about the value or transfer of real property;
    4. discussions about security personnel, security devices, or a security audit;
    5. discussions about a prospective gift or donation to a governmental body;
    6. discussions by a governing body of potential items on tests that the governing
    body conducts for purposes of licensing individuals to engage in an activity;
    7. discussions of certain economic development matters;
    8. discussions of certain competitive matters relating to a city-owned electric or gas
    utility for which the city council is the governing body;and
    9. certain information relating to the subject of emergencies and disasters.

    77. If a member of a governing body is not certain that a closed meeting is permitted, what
    actions should the official take if a closed meeting is called?

    If a member is not certain that a closed meeting is permitted on an issue, the member may wish
    to consider refusing to attend or asking for a formal written interpretation from the local entity=s
    attorney as to the legality of the meeting. Attendance at an unauthorized closed meeting may be
    a criminal offense. If an official reasonably relies on a written opinion concerning whether a
    closed meeting is permitted from the governing body’s attorney, the attorney general or a court,
    then the official has an affirmative defense to any criminal prosecution for violation of the
    Act. Simply objecting or not speaking during an illegal closed meeting will not relieve the
    member of potential criminal liability for participating in the meeting.

    https://www.oag.state.tx.us/AG_Publications/pdfs/openmeetings_easy.pdf

  • Alexander Muse

    The next city manager really needs to be an outsider. Someone who can really shake things up. This Uber mess is shameful and the fact that the interim city manager doesn’t realize he did anything wrong says everything we need to know… #dallasneedsuber

  • Pegaso

    I can’t believe my council member, Adam Medrano, voted for going into executive session. Noted, Mr. Medrano.

  • Wylie H Dallas

    Agreed, very disappointing.

  • Watcher McWatcherson

    Where have you been, sir? City Hall has behaved this way for years including when they and your magazine (and other media outlets) force fed us the great Trinity River scams in recent years.