Big Lake TOMA

January 21, 2010

The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas applauds the brave, courageous and responsible action taken by the Big Lake City Council earlier this week. During Tuesday night’s council meeting that governing body voted to remove its name from a federal lawsuit filed by the City of Alpine challenging the Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA). It is one of the first named plaintiffs to pass such a resolution.

“Elected officials are rarely rewarded when they do the right thing,” said Keith Elkins, Executive Director of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, “but all Texans should applaud the Big Lake City Council for rethinking its decision and voting to uphold existing law. Hopefully, the other cities named as plaintiffs will follow their lead.”

According to today’s online edition of the Big Lake Wildcat, Big Lake’s newspaper, councilman Terry Jones is quoted as saying, “…After reading the lawsuit a little closer I don’t think it’s a good idea to join.”

Mayor Cindy O’Bryan agreed, saying they were simply considering a request they had received in a letter from the Texas Municipal League, an Austin based lobbying organization for cities and municipalities. Referring to Tuesday’s vote Mayor O’Bryan added, “I think we did the right thing by not joining.”

Since the City of Big Lake does not have a city attorney the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas offered to provide free legal services to have its name removed from the suit and Mayor O’Bryan accepted. Former State Senator Don Adams will be the lead attorney providing the City of Big Lake pro bono legal services. Laura Prather, an Austin attorney and President of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, will assist.

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The Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to enhancing the public’s right to know about their government and other public entities. The organization is supported by tax-deductible donations, as well as grants from foundations and private citizens. Membership information is available at www.foift.org. The Freedom of Information Foundation’s main offices are at 3001 North Lamar, Suite 302 in Austin, Texas 78705.