Texas has public information and public meetings laws to promote open and transparent government.
A Rio Grande Valley city that has been skirting these laws is the city of Mercedes.
Recently, the Mercedes City Commission removed its open forum portion of its public meeting without informing citizens who were at this meeting.
In commenting to a reporter about the issue, an arrogant and showboating city commissioner accused these citizens as chest-pounding and indirectly smearing the city by constantly complaining that the world around them is crumpling.
These citizens just want an open and transparent city government as required by state laws. They believe that there is no accountability with many of the city’s spending transactions that might be excessive, illegal or unnecessary.
For the last several months, a citizen requested public information dealing with a city commissioner who before being elected to his office during a 2017 city election was sued as a private individual.
This individual along with two other members of the city commission were sued for alleged wrongdoings by a former city manager.
This citizen has been trying to get information on why the commission paid this commissioner’s legal expenses for his alleged wrongdoings dealing with the former city manager lawsuit’s allegations.
According to a city financial policy, a payment for materials or services requires the commission’s vote and approval on such payments in an open meeting.
During a Dec. 5, 2017, regular meeting, the commission in an executive session authorized the payment for this commissioner’s legal fees.
This action is probably illegal because the commission did not follow its own policy.
Also, during the last few weeks, the same citizen filed another public information request to get a copy of the 2017 city’s forensic audit.
When the city failed to comply with this request, he filed a formal complaint against the city with the Hidalgo County District Attorney’s Office for its failure to comply with this law.
The DA also failed to help this citizen getting the information requested.
Later, he filed the same formal complaint with the Texas Attorney General’s Office.
Silvestre Moreno Jr., Mercedes