Recently, Thomas Dorman embarked on gathering as many open records documents as possible in regards to the recent pay raises for the county commissioners. Dorman has so far gathered almost 200 files containing hundreds of pages of information. He has kindly shared the documents with me and has asked that I make them available to you online. With so many pages to go through as well as the County’s apparent reluctance to be forthright and transparent about county business it is imperative that the documents be scrutinized. Unfortunately, there are too many for two individuals to go through. Additionally, we may miss important details. This is where you come in.

Crowdsourcing is term used to define enlisting the services, you the readers of this blog, via the Internet to help us complete a project. I am asking for your help to pick some of the files and review them. If you find anything important or that should be further discussed please post a comment, or let me know and I will tag the file for further review. The more of us that scrutinize the open records documents the more likely we are to understand what is going on at the county and the more likely we are to fill in the missing pieces to the ongoing issues.

The documents can be viewed by clicking here.

As some of you know, I have been using SocialUnwind as an online platform for sharing open records files with you. I intended to expand on that by using it to share any public documents sent to me so that all of you have access to review them.

Unfortunately, as I explained on Friday, I crashed the system. As a result, I launched Public Documents as a place to archive the open records documents that come my way.

Many of you are filing your own open records requests, or have public documents. I am asking you to send the documents to me so that I can upload them so that the community can review them as well. If you are so inclined, you can also register an account and upload your own documents to the site.

Public documents are meant to give the voters the opportunity to understand what their government is doing. Democracy was intended to be a “government by the people and for the people,” yet lately, it seems that elected officials have taken the tact that they should not be scrutinized for their actions. Governments and public entities everywhere are looking for ways to limit access to public documents instead of opening up the people’s records for the voters to access.

Help your community by reviewing the public documents that Thomas Dorman has collected for you so that we can all better understand what your government is up to. Become an activist journalist and dig deep into the workings of government.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

4 replies on “A Call for Crowd Sourcing Open Records Documents”

  1. Good work, Martin. Why don’t you move back here and start a newspaper? BTW, remember BizTec? We worked together on it in 2007. It’s on this week.

  2. Here is some issues we faced getting these records. Had to prompt the County at 10 business days for both ORR to set a schedule to rendering of records. Yep they are using and playing the false notion of them having a set time to render. The law says promptly and the 10 business day time line is if they are going to take the ORR to the Texas Attorney Generals office. If there is a reason they cannot render promptly they need to give reason and cause which the county did not in a timely manner. Once again we had to prompt the county.
    Second in asking for the meeting meets it was claimed by assistant District Attorney Ms. Lytle that meeting minutes must be approved by the CCC before release this is also non-sense they have the time needed to transcribe the meets minutes and that is it. There is no need for approval of minutes by an Texas government body but they are not seen as ‘official approved minutes”. When was the last time you have seen the CCC or CC get into a fight over approval of meeting minutes?
    Next assistant County Attorney Ms. Lytle tried to use the ladies that transcribe meeting minutes were very busy at this time of year and had not got around to doing them. Wrong again they have the reasonable time to transcribe the minutes and man power issues are not a legitimate reason for a delay under the law. Just more game playing by the county and assistant County Attorney Ms. Lytle.
    The on the second request we sent we sent it to assistant County Attorney Ms. Lytle and all the CCC member and the County Attorney. Assistant County Attorney Ms. Lytle tried to claim it was not a legitimate ORR once again which was non-sense since the request was sent to all CCC members and the County Attorney. More Bovine Fecal matter, to stop this non-sense we sent a second request to cover the one sent to Assistant County Attorney Ms. Lytle.
    On are second prompting of the County Assistant County Attorney Ms. Lytle want to take issue with our miscalculation of business days since we missed labor day, which still made the prompting of the count at the 10 business day time frame.
    Last after the second rendering by the County of our second ORR the following week we get more files by e-mail that just appeared out of thin air after we called the County out for criminal abusing of rendering open recorders.
    Do not be fooled by the size of both ORR rendering by the County, the intent was to bulk them up, to look like the County was rendering a lot of documents which they did not once you go through them and look at what was rendered. Could of easily been cut down to about the a third of the size of files sizes rendered.
    Have a problem with the content mostly covering just from the start of August for something that had been in the works since January of this year. Some CCC members and staff we got little to no recorders from. For an issue the CCC had to know in advance would be a publicly explosive issue the rendering of records by the County were at best meager.
    We are left with there was an open attempt to make sure that there were few open records that could be requested or a criminal attempt by CCC members and there staff to the rendering open records.
    Think about it so little communications by CCC members and their staff on what had to be known would be a critical issue for the CCC and the County before the public. We did not cherry pick the files but give all the files to Martin that we received from the County
    We leave this from the Texas Open records Act, Chapter 552. Public Information and would hope the County and the CCC members would take it to heart.
    Sec. 552.001. POLICY; CONSTRUCTION. (a) Under the fundamental philosophy of the American constitutional form of representative government that adheres to the principle that government is the servant and not the master of the people, it is the policy of this state that each person is entitled, unless otherwise expressly provided by law, at all times to complete information about the affairs of government and the official acts of public officials and employees. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over the instruments they have created. The provisions of this chapter shall be liberally construed to implement this policy.
    (b) This chapter shall be liberally construed in favor of granting a request for information.

  3. Here is how some of you with a back bone can help.
    ORR to the CCC members and their staff for all communications, in all forms, on all device and accounts, County and private, with local media on the raises
    ORR with elected and appointed officials,city counsel members, State, and Federal officials asking for all communications, in all forms, on government and private devices and accounts on raises at the county.
    Remember the raises are not official until Oct. 3 meeting.
    We encourage people to keep calling out their CCC members on the raises..

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