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April 25, 2000

Ms. Nanette G. Williams
Assistant City Attorney
City of El Paso
2 Civic Center Plaza
El Paso, Texas 79901-1196

OR2000-1605

Dear Ms. Williams:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID#136274.

You represent that the City of El Paso (the "city") received a request for access to the new automated refuse trucks. You assert that the refuse trucks are not "information" under the Public Information Act, and therefore are not subject to required public disclosure under section 552.021 of the Government Code.

This office has ruled that tangible physical items are not the type of information contemplated under the Act. See, e.g., Open Records Decision No. 581 (1990). Thus, we agree that the refuse trucks are not public information as that term is defined in section 552.002 of the Government Code. We therefore determine that the refuse trucks are not information made public by section 552.021 of the Government Code.

This letter ruling is limited to the particular records at issue in this request and limited to the facts as presented to us; therefore, this ruling must not be relied upon as a previous determination regarding any other records or any other circumstances.

This ruling triggers important deadlines regarding the rights and responsibilities of the governmental body and of the requestor. For example, governmental bodies are prohibited from asking the attorney general to reconsider this ruling. Gov't Code 552.301(f). If the governmental body wants to challenge this ruling, the governmental body must appeal by filing suit in Travis County within 30 calendar days. Id. 552.324(b). In order to get the full benefit of such an appeal, the governmental body must file suit within 10 calendar days. Id. 552.353(b)(3), (c). If the governmental body does not appeal this ruling and the governmental body does not comply with it, then both the requestor and the attorney general have the right to file suit against the governmental body to enforce this ruling. Id. 552.321(a).

If this ruling requires the governmental body to release all or part of the requested information, the governmental body is responsible for taking the next step. Based on the statute, the attorney general expects that, within 10 calendar days of this ruling, the governmental body will do one of the following three things: 1) release the public records; 2) notify the requestor of the exact day, time, and place that copies of the records will be provided or that the records can be inspected; or 3) notify the requestor of the governmental body's intent to challenge this letter ruling in court. If the governmental body fails to do one of these three things within 10 calendar days of this ruling, then the requestor should report that failure to the attorney general's Open Government Hotline, toll free, at 877/673-6839. The requestor may also file a complaint with the district or county attorney. Id. 552.3215(e).

If this ruling requires or permits the governmental body to withhold all or some of the requested information, the requestor can appeal that decision by suing the governmental body. Id. 552.321(a); Texas Department of Public Safety v. Gilbreath, 842 S.W.2d 408, 411 (Tex. App.- Austin 1992, no writ).

If the governmental body, the requestor, or any other person has questions or comments about this ruling, they may contact our office. Although there is no statutory deadline for contacting us, the attorney general prefers to receive any comments within 10 calendar days of the date of this ruling.

Sincerely,

Patricia Michels Anderson
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

PMA/ljp

Ref: ID# 136274

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Mr. Eduardo Mirandoa
Ray, McChristian & Jeans
5822 Cromo, Suite 400
El Paso, Texas 79912
(w/o enclosures)


 

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