Civil War Brewing on City Council as Open Meeting Dispute Grows

San Antonio City Council appears to be veering toward open civi war over last weeks's closed door session to discuss and decide to reject a bid for the 2020 Republcian National Convention, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

One day after Councilman Greg Brockhouse said he is asking the Bexar County District Attorney to investigate possible violations of the Texas Open Meetings Law in the top secret session, which barred the news media and the taxpayers from listening to the discussion, fellow Councilman Manny Pelaez, who is an attorney, responded in uncharacteristically blunt fashion.

“I’m taken aback and disappointed by Councilman Brockhouse’s lamentable attacks and the casting of ugly aspersions on the work this City Council does to gather information and discuss matters allowed under the Texas Open Meetings Act," Pelaez said, in language far different from the 'honorable gentleman' type tone usually used in political debates.

"His accusation that we committed criminal violations of Texas law makes for exciting red-meat politics to help bolster his aspirations to higher office. However, if getting accused of a crime is what we get from meeting with Councilman Brockhouse, why in the world would we want to meet with him for anything else going forward? In my view, playing fast and loose with referrals to criminal prosecutors and law enforcement to score points is cheap and it’s what people hate about modern-day populist politics.”

 The City Council used the 'economic development' exemption to the Open Meetings Law.  That exemption allows closed meetings to discuss economic incentives, property purchases, and other similar issues where the public disclosure of information could, for example, unfairly tip off competitors.Meanwhile, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told 1200 WOAI's Joe Pags late Wednesday that there is a distinct possibility that the Mayor and Council did in fact violate the law.

"If they conducted City business and government business behind closed doors, if they did any of that behind closed doors, yes, that is a violation of the Open Meetings Act," Paxton said.

Paxton said his office is normally not involved in Open Meetings Act investigations, which are usually handled by the local district attorney, but he said the DA could refer the case to him out of concern about an appearence of bias or potential conflict of interest.

"It is also a misdemeanor for the people who did it," Paxton said.  "It has a criminal element to it."

Paxton said the key will be whether council simply 'discussed whether to bid for the convention, or whether the council actulally took any action, which doesn't have to involve a formal vote, not to bid for the convention.

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