El Paso Mayor Dee Margo appears to have sidestepped the city’s public information rules and state law during negotiations with arena opponents earlier this year.
An El Paso Inc. review of 155 pages of emails and documents, obtained from arena opponents and through public information requests, found that at least seven emails sent and received by the mayor from his personal email account were not forwarded to his official city account.
The city should have produced those emails, which involve city business, in response to El Paso Inc.’s public information request but were missing.
“People are entitled to see what their government is doing,” said Joseph Larsen, a First Amendment attorney in Houston and board member of the Freedom of Information Foundation. “If they can’t, they can’t really hold (government) accountable.”
The emails include the mayor’s correspondence with El Paso businessman Woody Hunt and J.P. Bryan, a retired Houston oilman who is financing lawsuits challenging the city’s plans for the $180-million arena, formally known as the multipurpose performing art and entertainment center.
Well, that’s interesting, isn’t it?
Remember when we elected Woody Hunt? Me neither. What’s he doing in that exchange? A little pro-bono, billionaire to billionaire bonding? Did Mayor Margo need Mr. Hunt to hold his hand?
Here’s what Mayor Margo had to say about it:
“You received all available information regarding the (multipurpose center) and communication with J.P. Bryan,” Margo wrote. “You may not be satisfied with the information you received, but that does not give basis for you to attack my integrity and accuse me of withholding information from the public.”
Right. The Inc. received all the available information regarding the multipurpose center, but not from Mayor Margo. They received it from JP Bryan. Mayor Margo did withhold information from the public.
Do you suppose Mayor Margo and Woody Hunt exchanged emails that didn’t include JP Bryan?
I bet they did. And I bet Mayor Margo deleted them without copying them to the City’s server. So don’t even bother requesting them through the Public Information Act.
Not that I would attack the Mayor’s integrity. That would be like fighting a ghost. If you believe that ghosts don’t exist, either.
In other news, the Mayor is still sitting on the revisions to the ethics ordinance proposed last October.