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June 6, 2000

Mr. Alan J. Bojorquez
Bickerstaff, Heath, Smiley, Pollan,
Kever & McDaniel, L.L.P
1700 Frost Bank Plaza
816 Congress Avenue
Austin, Texas 78701-2443

OR2000-2210

Dear Mr. Bojorquez:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under the Public Information Act, chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 136430.

The City of Georgetown, which you represent, received a request for "[a]ny and all documents related to the purchase of the land and discharge permit for the Dove Springs wastewater treatment plant from Charlie Stegar." You claim that the information submitted is excepted from disclosure under sections 552.101, 552.103, and 552.107 of the Government Code. We have considered the exceptions you claim and reviewed the submitted information.

The information you have submitted to this office does not appear to be responsive to this specific request for information. The documents submitted may be "related to the purchase of the land and discharge permit for the Dove Springs wastewater treatment plant," but none of the documents are from Charlie Stegar. Therefore, the information you submitted is not that which was specifically requested by the requestor.(1) Thus, you may withhold the submitted information as non-responsive to the request for information.

However, we note that because you did not submit to this office the information requested, or a representative sample thereof, within 15 business days of receiving the request, the responsive information is presumed to be public. Gov't Code 552.301(e), 552.302. Information that is presumed public must be released unless a governmental body demonstrates a compelling reason 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). As such, should you locate the responsive information, you may not withhold it from the requestor without obtaining from this office a determination that the specific information is confidential. See Open Records Decision No. 319 (1987).

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,

Amanda Crawford
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

AEC/nc

Ref: ID# 136430

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Mr. Michael T. Sheffield
300 Sequoia Spur West
Georgetown, Texas 78628
(w/o enclosures)


 

Footnotes

1. If our interpretation of the request is incorrect, the requestor may submit a new request, clearly establishing the precise information he is seeking. Should the city then request a decision from this office as to that new request, we will evaluate the information submitted at that time.
 

POST OFFICE BOX 12548, AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2548 TEL: (512) 463-2100 WEB: WWW.OAG.STATE.TX.US
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