One week ago, as you no doubt recall, attorney Andy Siegel filed a writ of mandamus in which he claimed, among other things, that the organization formerly known as Progress Dallas did not garner enough legit signatures to trigger a local option election concerning the off-premise sale of beer and wine citywide. Late yesterday, Siegel followed up with two more items: He sent along an order signed by Texas Fifth District Court of Appeals Justice Elizabeth Lang-Miers
ordering the city to respond by July 19, as well as a letter Assistant City Attorney Warren Ernst sent to the Texas Attorney General's Office requesting to keep closed an open records request Siegel filed last month.
Siegel also sent the following note concerning Ernst's missive to the AG's office, which you'll find on the other side:
It's unbelievable that the City would refuse to produce ANY documents in connection with our Open Records Requests pertaining to the City's calling of a local option election. I expect the Atty General to force the disclosures. What does it say about a City that's afraid to disclose how it determined that there were sufficient and valid signatures on the Local Option Election Petition to justify calling a $1.2 million election AND to risk reversing the elective Dry status of much of the City? Since when did Dallas call & hold its elections in the dark? How will the City defend its actions now that the Court of Appeals has ordered (today) the City to address our Mandamus Petition (per attached)? At the end of the day, there's a Fake Petition and a False Election and the City knows it.
To which First Assistant City Attorney Chris Bowers responds, in short: That's nonsense.
"We are treating his request the same as we treat anyone else's," Bowers tells Unfair Park. "We are entitled to treat certain matters as confidential, and the AG will tell us if we can [in this case], and we'll see where it goes from there. But we're not treating this or Mr. Siegel differently than we treat any other request, and he's not the only one making requests about this matter.
"Besides, we are releasing documents that are appropriate to be released. We're not outright refusing to respond to any requests. Plenty of documents are being released. He's gotten ample documents.
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As for the court's decision Friday, Bowers says it's kind of surprising, since "most of the time the court doesn't request a response" when a writ of mandamus is filed. Nevertheless, he says, "We'll get busy."
Oh -- and the election will not cost $1.2 million, city officials like to remind, since the local option election will be held on a regularly scheduled voting day, November 2.
Is it too early for a drink? Never.