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January 14, 1999

Mr. John Steiner
Division Chief
Law Department
City of Austin
P.O. Box 1546
Austin, Texas 78767-1546

OR99-0106

Dear Mr. Steiner:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 121202.

The City of Austin (the "city") received a request for information relating to Ordinance 941103-I. You state that you have released certain responsive documents. You claim, however, that the remaining information is excepted from disclosure under sections 552.101, 552.106, and 552.107 of the Government Code.

Pursuant to section 552.301(b), a governmental body is required to submit to this office (1) general written comments stating the reasons why the stated exceptions apply that would allow the information to be withheld, (2) a copy of the written request for information, and (3) a copy of the specific information requested or representative samples, labeled to indicate which exceptions apply to which parts of the documents. You did not, however, submit to this office copies or representative samples of the specific information that was requested. Pursuant to section 552.303(c) of the Government Code, this office notified you by facsimile dated November 6, 1998, that you had failed to submit the information required by section 552.301(b). We requested that you provide this information to our office within seven days from the date of receiving the notice. The notice further stated that under section 552.303(e) failure to comply would result in the legal presumption that the information at issue was presumed public.

As of the date of this letter you have not provided our office with the information that was requested. Therefore, as provided by section 552.303(e), the information that is the subject of this request for information is presumed to be public information. Information that is presumed public must be released unless a governmental body demonstrates a compelling interest to withhold the information to overcome this presumption. See Hancock v. State Bd. of Ins., 797 S.W.2d 379, 381-82 (Tex. App.--Austin 1990, no writ) (governmental body must make compelling demonstration to overcome presumption of openness pursuant to statutory predecessor to Gov't Code 552.302); Open Records Decision No. 319 (1982). See, e.g., Open Records Decision No. 150 (1977) (presumption of openness overcome by a showing that the information is made confidential by another source of law or affects third party interests). In the absence of a demonstration that the information is confidential by law or that other compelling reasons exist as to why the information should not be made public, the requested information must be released. Open Records Decision No. 195 (1978).

We are resolving this matter with an informal letter ruling rather than with a published open records decision. This ruling is limited to the particular records at issue under the facts presented to us in this request and should not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records. If you have questions about this ruling, please contact our office.

Yours very truly,

June B. Harden
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

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Ref: ID# 121202

cc: Mr. Fred Lewis
Wiseman, Durst, Tuddenham & Owen
1004 West Avenue
Austin, Texas 78701-2019


 

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