Many of you know I am from Houston. And it has recently made even national news that my governor, Mr. Rick Perry, mandated that the state add the controversial HPV vaccine as a mandantory vaccine for girls in the state of Texas.
He has been getting a lot of heat over this because he kinda went around the whole legislative process, and now reporters are asking for any correspondence from the Governor about the decision process for HPV between himself and his staff. According to the governor and his staff, there at no such animal. They say that Governor Perry does not use email from work, and he doesn’t even have a state-issued computer. Therefore, there are no emails between himself and his staff AT ALL.
On a side note, the governor’s mansion also issued a story today that they were selling ocean front property in Arizona and had several bridges for sale…. OK, I made that up. Anyway….
Governor Perry’s spokesman Robert Black says, “That doesn’t mean Perry doesn’t use e-mail. But his e-mail account is personal and therefore not subject to open records laws, Black said.”
However, this excerpt from the story refutes that claim:
That’s not true, said Joel White, immediate past president of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the state’s open meetings and open records laws.
“I don’t think it makes any difference what computer he writes on any more than it makes a difference whether he uses government-issued stationery,” White said. “The question is: Is he sending personal correspondence or does it relate to official business? If it’s official business, it’s an open record.”
That has been the determination of the Attorney General’s Office in several informal rulings. For example, in response to a 2003 claim by the City of Kingsville that correspondence from personal e-mail accounts of the mayor and commissioners is not public information, the Attorney General’s Office wrote that to the extent that the e-mails pertain to official city business, “such information is subject to disclosure.”
To top it all off, our local news radio station, KTRH, has a picture on their website of what APPEARS to be be Governor Perry sitting at his desk with a laptop on the desk (bigger picture here). And, I found this picture with a quick search that shows Mr. Perry when he was Lieutenant Governor. There is a computer visible behind him (I sent the link to Scott Braddock who is covering the story – he replied with a thank you).
It is all getting kinda ludicrous. And personally, it is cracking me up, even though the basic issue is a serious one.