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August 21, 2000

Ms. Lillian Guillen Graham
Assistant City Attorney
City of Mesquite
Box 850137
Mesquite, Texas 75185-0137

OR2000-3201

Dear Ms. Graham:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 138194.

The City of Mesquite (the "city") received a request for all complaints filed with the library from January, 1997, to the present (request dated June 5, 2000). You claim that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.124 of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and reviewed the submitted information.

Section 552.124 makes confidential, with certain exceptions which are not applicable here, "[a] record of a library or library system, supported in whole or in part by public funds, that identifies or serves to identify a person who requested, obtained, or used a library material or service." In our opinion, section 552.124 requires withholding only the names, addresses, and other information specifically identifying library patrons. See, e.g., Open Records Decision No. 649 at 3 (1996) (confidentiality provisions strictly construed). We have reviewed the information at issue. You must withhold from the submitted information the names, addresses, telephone numbers, and signatures of any person who "requested, obtained, or used a library material or service." However, we note that some of the identifying information you have highlighted does not appear to relate to the type of information protected by section 552.124. You may not withhold information identifying library employees or other persons not requesting, obtaining, or using a library material or service. We have marked the information you may withhold under section 552.124.

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/pr

Ref: ID# 138194

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Ms. Bennett Cunningham
CBS 11
10111 North Central Expressway
Dallas, Texas 75231
(w/o enclosures)


 

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