So What Happens if San Antonio Council DID Violate Open Meetings Law?

San Antonio's Mayor and City Council could be in legal hot water for the way they handled a decision to not bid on the 2020 Republican National Convention, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The debate is over whether the decision, made in executive session, violated the open meetings act.  

“The Open Meetings Act requires governing bodies to meet in public to make decisions, to deliberate on matters of policy, and to take votes. Some exceptions are allowed under the Act via executive session, but generally speaking the law is in place to keep matters of public business out in the open,” James Quintero of the Texas Public Policy Foundation says.

In a statement, Mayor Ron Nirenberg says the Council’s conversation about the RNC was conducted in the standard manner for economic development. 

"We conducted the meeting as advised by legal counsel, who was present,” he writes. "We are confident that the discussion was compliant with state law.”

But Bill Aleshire with the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas says it's clear this is a violation, because a decision was made.  

"It doesn’t matter if it's a positive decision or a negative decision, the governmental body must do that in the open," he explains.

But, as for consequences, he says, if there's a lawsuit filed, and a judge finds the open meetings act was violated, it would not be a criminal offense.  Instead, it's a civil case, and would basically lay the groundwork for future violations, which would then be found to be contempt of court.

Quintero says, no matter the outcome of any lawsuit, it's important that matters like this be brought to light.

“There’ve been a series of high-profile instances lately that have shaken people’s trust in transparent local governance. The city of San Antonio’s closed-door dealings with the 2020 Republican National Convention is just the latest to occur,” he says.  "In order to preserve people’s trust in government, the next Texas Legislature needs to make local government transparency a top priority."

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content