TPA Hotline

Public attendance restrictions on open meetings have not been lifted

Q: Recently our governor and attorney general seem to be pushing to re-open life as it was before the coronavirus pandemic. I have a city council meeting on “Zoom” tonight, which isn’t a problem, except that the agenda is too danged long! Have we gotten any guidance on how the governor’s more recent COVID-19 related executive orders affect open meetings?

Candidate filings belong to public as soon as submitted

Q: The filing deadline for candidates in the March 3, 2020 primary election was Dec. 9. When were getting close to the deadline I was working on an article that included information on all candidates who filed to run.
I received word from a credible person that a sheriff’s office employee was going to file to run against the incumbent sheriff, but the candidate wanted to talk to me before I identified him in my news story, which could have been a delay tactic. Candidate filings are public records, correct?

Voters can petition district court to remove a school board trustee

Q: At a school board meeting, a local attorney who was present said only the Texas attorney general has the authority to remove a board member, or a district attorney, if court action is taken through the district court. Is this information correct?
A: Local Government Code Chapter 87, Removal of County Officers From Office; Filling Vacancies — appears to contain the information you are seeking. Please check the language of the law at:

Government agency minutes are public in whatever form they exist

Q: One of the city councils we cover came out of executive session after one hour behind closed doors. A member then made a motion “to discuss what was discussed” in executive session. Another member seconded the motion. The question was put to a vote. It passed unanimously. But curiously, there was no further discussion. 
And to top it off, we asked for documents related to the matter and were told no such documents existed. However, as we eventually found out, the documents we requested did exist but we got them too late to include any details in our story.