In the News

The FOI Foundation of Texas is making headlines. Check out our board members and executive director as they speak to media outlets across the state.

May 30, 2018
Board member Joe Larsen spoke with Texas Public Radio’s program, “The Source,” that focused on the San Antonio City Council’s discussion behind closed doors regarding a possible bid to host the Republican National Convention in 2020.

May 23, 2018
President and editor-in-chief of the Victoria Advocate Chris Cobler explained that the Advocate pursued legal action against the Calhoun Port Authority for breaking the Texas Open Meetings Act “purely to preserve the public’s right to know.”

May 18, 2018
Board member Joe Larsen told the Victoria Advocate that the violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act by the Calhoun Port Authority was “one of the most clear-cut examples” of a violation that he had ever seen.

May 14, 2018
Board member Paul Watler represented The Dallas Morning News in a defamation lawsuit dismissed by the Texas Supreme Court. Watler said the court’s opinion was grounded in the principles of free speech and free press ensured by the First Amendment and the Texas Constitution.

May 8, 2018
Foundation volunteer attorney Bill Aleshire and Executive Director Kelley Shannon spoke with the San Antonio Express-News to talk about the “blatant mistake” that San Antonio City Council members have made by making decisions about a possible GOP convention bid behind closed doors.

April 30, 2018
Board member Laura Prather told KXAN for its report called, “State of Texas: A look at laws that deny access to information,” that it’s difficult for the public to trust a government that isn’t transparent about how taxpayer dollars are spent.

April 10, 2018
Board member Laura Prather told the Austin American-Statesman that allowing the public to know the contents of the confession video left behind by the Austin Bomber, Mark Conditt, would increase faith in law enforcement “instead of being left to speculation.”

April 3, 2018
After the perpetrator of the Austin Bombings died, police officers refused requests for release of a video confession recorded prior to the serial bomber’s death. Board member Paul Watler wrote an op-ed questioning the legality of APD’s decision to withhold this information.

March 21, 2018
Executive Director Kelley Shannon told the Odessa American that recordings of closed-door city meetings provide “indisputable evidence” of conversations for the public after the City of Odessa announced closed-door meeting reform following a settlement between the City and the Odessa American.

March 20, 2018
In a WOAI/News 4 San Antonio report about the Boeing decision, Executive Director Kelley Shannon explains that the real solution for creating an open government is the legislature ensuring transparent public information.

March 9, 2018
An op-ed by Executive Director Kelley Shannon lamented the obfuscation of public information in Texas but called for a renewal of the state’s commitment to open government during “Sunshine Week.”

February 8, 2018
Board member Paul Watler explained to the Houston Chronicle that the open meetings law has faced other constitutional challenges in light of the first written opinion by a state appeals court in a case involving the “walking quorum” clause.

January 25, 2018
Board member Joe Larsen explained in the Houston Chronicle that Open Meetings Act prosecutions are rare, in part, because they aren’t easy to prove — regarding the case where members of Pasadena’s economic development board were indicted for holding private meetings with a contractor.

]January 11, 2018
Executive Director Kelley Shannon and board member Joe Larsen both spoke to the Associated Press about the resistance of several Texas cities in releasing their proposals to land Amazon’s second headquarters.

December 19, 2017
Board member Joe Larsen weighed in on the misuse of information charges against a Facebook star/citizen journalist known as Lagordiloca. Larsen said the issue with this legal action is that Lagordiloca, whose real name is Priscila Villarreal, published information already part of the public record.

November 14, 2017
Executive Director Shannon wrote a column explaining how the Texas Supreme Court’s Boeing ruling has allowed government officials to withhold all sorts of information from tax-payers.

November 1, 2017
When the City of Austin denied a Public Information Act request by the Austin American-Statesman seeking the names of finalists for the city manager job, board member Debbie Hiott asserted that the residents of Austin deserved to know this information since they pay the salary for this position.

October 30, 2017
After Austin City Council members voted unanimously to keep candidates for City Manager secret during the hiring process, Executive Director Kelley Shannon called this move “alarmingly out of step with the spirit of the state’s public information law.”

October 17, 2017
Executive Director Kelley Shannon explained that information about accidents and crimes can prevent more tragedies from happening after The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department declined to release a report on the deaths of three Boy Scouts.

September 20, 2017
The Courthouse News service quoted board member Paul Watler at the “Transparency = Real News” conference as he addressed Texas clerks who have cloaked documents during transitions to new technology.

September 1, 2017
Following an explosion of at an Arkema plant in Crosby where the company refused to release documents critical for assessing public safety, board member Joe Larsen told the Texas Tribune that this episode was an example of transparency problems the Texas government has allowed through “boneheaded rulings.”

August 28, 2017
Board member Joe Larsen said official business over any medium, including social media, is subject to the Public Information Act.

August 1, 2017
Executive Director Shannon Kelley spoke to the Washington Examiner to explain a legal loophole that allows law enforcement agencies to withhold records even though a suspect is deceased, as is the case with the “pending” investigation status of a local 2015 terrorist attack in Garland, Texas.

July 2, 2017
Board member Joe Larsen said a letter received by the Victoria County District Attorney is still public information because it relates to “the detection of prosecution of a crime,” regardless of the fact that it was first personally addressed to the district attorney.

June 15, 2017
Executive Director Shannon Kelley attributed the death of multiple open government bills to “an anti-transparency attitude” at the Texas Capitol this year. Texas Governor Greg Abbott killed HB 2783, written to allow judges the ability to award attorneys’ fees to an individual whose request for public information was initially denied by a governmental agency.

May 31, 2017
Board member Joe Larsen criticized a consistent pattern of activity by the city of Pasadena, Texas that makes it difficult for residents to access public information records and documents.

May 30, 2017
Executive Director Kelley Shannon spoke to Texas Standard about the Texas Legislature’s failure to pass bills that would have expanded Freedom of Information protections.

May 24, 2017
Board member Laura Prather spoke to The McAllen Monitor about the series of political actions that prevented the passing of six bills designed to address government transparency in Texas.

May 24, 2017
Executive Director Shannon Kelley expressed concerns about increasing incentives for governments to put money into non-profits where there is less or no transparency and accountability.

May 12, 2017
Executive Director Shannon Kelley said it is crucial for Texas lawmakers to join the effort to pass multiple negotiated open-government measures to restore the strength of the Texas Public Information Act.

April 20, 2017
Board members Laura Prather, Joe Larsen, and James Hemphill spoke about a Texas law that allowed the Mesquite Police Department to withhold records pertaining to the 2013 death of a young man in police custody, forcing the man’s parents to find a back-door way to access the documents.

March 13, 2017
Executive Director Shannon Kelley wrote a commentary on the weakened state of the Public Information Act in Texas, calling on readers to “commit to maintaining Texas’ national standing as a leading right-to-know state.”

March 1, 2017
Executive Director Shannon Kelley recently did a call-in show on the Texas Public Radio show called “The Source.” The show explored whether the public has a fundamental right to information about who the government is making deals with and where money is being spent.

February 17, 2017
Foundation volunteer attorney Bill Aleshire said it is the responsibility of elected officials to know the laws concerning illegal meetings, and disregard of these ethics hurt the public interest and reflect elected officials’ attitudes toward transparency.

February 11, 2017
Board member Paul Watler spoke to the San Antonio Express-News about the recent proposal by the Texas Supreme Court to use an online database to make public records available.

January 26, 2017
Board member Joe Larsen believes there is strong evidence that the El Paso mayor and four city council members knowingly evaded the Texas Open Meetings Act in December.

To find archived articles featuring FOIFT, click the links below:
2016 Archives
2015 Archives
2014 Archives