I’m about to file my third formal request in as many days for information related to Dallas’ ordinance prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation. I’ve been forced to take this course of action because after my article about the ordinance in last week’s Voice, the city said it will no longer release any information whatsoever related to the ordinance without written requests under the Texas Public Information Act.
Under the act, the city has 10 days to provide the requested information or refer the matter to the Texas Attorney General’s Office for a decision about whether it can be released.
Previously, representatives from the city’s Fair Housing Office, which investigates complaints under the ordinance, said they’d be willing to provide basic information without written requests. They said they could tell me how many complaints had been filed, the dates they were filed and their dispositions.
But all this changed after the city atttorney’s office â€” and specifically a guy name Michael Bostic â€” got wind of my investigation. Bostic told me yesterday that under the Public Information Act, the city has every right to require written requests. I told him while this is clearly true (who do you think you’re dealing with, asshole?), the city routinely releases all sorts of information without written requests. This is primarily because there’s no question the information should be public, and to require written requests would simply make more work for city employees.
But apparently Bostic doesn’t have anything better to do, because he isn’t wavering from his position. And apparently the city thinks it’s a valuable use of taxpayers’ money to pay people like Bostic to do the busy work of reviewing and responding to unnecessary requests for information. Then again, if you’re not going to enforce your own ordinances, you’ve got to find something for your staff to do. Personally, I think they should put Bostic in charge of enforcing the ordinance, instead of having him try to cover up its non-enforcement. Then maybe we wouldn’t have 0 prosecutions in six years despite 22 complaints filed.
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