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October 25, 2000

Mr. Michael J. Cosentino
City Attorney
City of Bryan
P.O. Box 1000
Bryan, Texas 77805

OR2000-4154

Dear Mr. Cosentino:

You ask whether certain information is subject to required public disclosure under chapter 552 of the Government Code. Your request was assigned ID# 140508.

The City of Bryan (the "city") received two requests 1) for all correspondence, memos, e-mail, and all other information relating to the proposed changes to the Traditions Golf project and a copy of the agreement including the proposed changes and 2) copies of any letter, memos, faxes, e-mail, telephone notes, or other documents to or from certain individuals with reference to the financing of the Traditions Golf Course project or with reference to the financial plan for TIF #10. You claim that the requested information is excepted from disclosure under section 552.107 of the Government Code. We have considered the exception you claim and reviewed the submitted representative samples of information, Exhibits C and D.(1)

Section 552.107(1) excepts information from disclosure if

it is information that the attorney general or an attorney of a political subdivision is prohibited from disclosing because of a duty to the client under the Texas Rules of Civil Evidence, the Texas Rules of Criminal Evidence, or the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct.

In Open Records Decision No. 574 (1990), this office concluded that section 552.107(1) excepts from public disclosure only "privileged information," that is, information that reflects either confidential communications from the client to the attorney or the attorney's legal advice or opinions; it does not apply to all client information held by a governmental body's attorney. ORD No. 574 at 5. Section 552.107(1) does not protect purely factual information. Id. For example, section 552.107(1) does not except from disclosure the factual recounting of events or the documentation of calls made, meetings attended, and memoranda sent. Id.

You state that the representative samples of information submitted to this office contain legal advice or legal opinions given to the project manager for the Traditions Golf Project by the city attorney, Exhibit C, and the city's bond counsel, Exhibit D. After reviewing your arguments and the submitted exhibits, we conclude that both exhibits represent an attorney's legal advice or opinion. Therefore, section 552.107 is applicable to the submitted representative samples of information. Consequently, the city may withhold the submitted exhibits in their entirety.

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).

Please remember that under the Act the release of information triggers certain procedures for costs and charges to the requestor. If records are released in compliance with this ruling, be sure that all charges for the information are at or below the legal amounts. Questions or complaints about over-charging must be directed to the General Services Commission at 512/475-2497.

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,

Noelle C. Letteri
Assistant Attorney General
Open Records Division

NCL/pr

Ref: ID# 140508

Encl. Submitted documents

cc: Ms. Jeanette H. Roman
508 East 30th Street
Bryan, Texas 77803
(w/o enclosures)

Mr. Frank Thurmond
3015 Glenneagles Court
Bryan, Texas 77802
(w/o enclosures)


 

Footnotes

1. We assume that the "representative sample" of records submitted to this office is truly representative of the requested records as a whole. See Open Records Decision Nos. 499 (1988), 497 (1988). Here, we do not address any other requested records to the extent that those records contain substantially different types of information than those submitted to this office.
 

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