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Education Board members in a pickle over secret deli meeting

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  1. Freedom of Information

    NMU         TEXAS         Freedom of Information         Sep 5, 2002    

Education Board members in a pickle over secret deli meeting

  • Texas’ State Board of Education members and consultants were charged with violating the Texas Open Meeting Act.

An Austin grand jury Aug. 30 indicted three members of the Texas Board of Education along with three consultants, for holding a closed meeting two years ago when they met for lunch at Katz’s Deli, an Austin area restaurant.

The Texas Open Meeting Act prohibits members of government agencies from meeting with outside officials for the “purpose of secret deliberations.”

At the time of the lunch meeting, David Bradley, Joe Bernal and Bob Offutt were all members of a committee responsible for hiring managers to oversee Texas’ $17.5 billion education trust fund. The three were charged with holding a secret meeting with three consultants: Brian Borowski, Russell Stein, and Joe Alderete.

Prosecutors claim that the meeting should have been held publicly.

“Government employees saw this group,” said assistant Travis County prosecutor Jim Connolly, “And they witnessed the consultants showing board members their own analyses and recommendations with regards to which was the best money management firm.”

“These discussions should have taken place that afternoon, at a scheduled public meeting,” Connolly asserted.

If convicted, those indicted could face a maximum fine of $500 and up to six months in jail.

(Texas v. David Bradley, Robert Offutt, Joe Bernal, Brian Borowski, Russell Stein, Joe Alderete) GS

© 2002 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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