TPA Hotline

Commissioners may choose to allow clerk in closed sessions

Q: Does the county clerk really belong in executive sessions of the county commissioners court? The county judge or any of our four county commissioners could push the button to start and stop the tape recorder in an executive session. Besides, our voters didn’t elect the county clerk to take part in budget and policy decisions. 

Discussion of appointing trustee may take place behind closed doors

Q: Our school board just accepted the resignation of a trustee. Then the board went into executive session to discuss his replacement citing “personnel.” How can that be? The replacement is not an employee of the school district, so how could this person be considered personnel? If the exception allows for closed-session discussion of an appointment to what would otherwise be an elected position, that’s so wrong.

Final audit reports are public information; audit working papers are not

Q: Our hospital district board of trustees went into closed session with an outside independent auditor, the board’s attorney, the district attorney and local law enforcement to discuss a forensic audit of district’s finances under its former president. Afterward, the board reconvened in open session and did not discuss the audit results, but voted to send the audit report to law enforcement. Didn’t the board have a duty to discuss the audit report and say why they are sending it to law enforcement before calling a vote?

E-mail generated by a public official is public information

Q: The superintendent of a school district I cover sends out a weekly e-mail to school board members. First, do you know where I could find, either in statute or in an attorney general’s decision, whether that e-mail is considered public record? Second, I would like to be included on the list for receiving those e-mails. Do you know of any statute or AG decision that would require the superintendent to include me on the list?

Several sources offer information on tobacco, alcohol advertising

Q: I am new to Texas and want to check on laws regarding the advertising of alcohol and tobacco products in print and online that are specific to tobacco barns and liquor stores. 

A: First, here is a link to a list of laws affecting advertising in the Texas Alcoholic Beverage code:

http://texaspress.com/legal-notice-laws

(Click “Alcoholic Beverage” to view the short list of laws.)

Second, another good resource is the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission marketing practices link: