They’re being ordered to do so by a judge, but it doesn’t look like they’re particularly bothered by it.
Paul Kubosh and Randall Kallinen filed a lawsuit challenging the city’s refusal to release 208 documents they requested under the Texas Public Information Act, many of them internal city communications and e-mails to and from the camera vendor, relating to last year’s city-sponsored study of the effectiveness of the camera program.
State District Judge Tracy Christopher has ordered the city to release 160 of 208 contested documents, ruling the city legal department presented no evidence they should be withheld under the law’s exceptions for attorney-client privilege or the deliberative process.
City attorney Arturo Michel said the city likely would not appeal the order, noting that many of the documents had been added as exhibits to motions filed in court.
Okay then. I’m not sure why it took this long to release these documents, given that the study came out nearly a year ago, followed almost immediately by Kubosh and Kallinen’s suit demanding the release of the draft report of the study. The city hasn’t exactly gone to the mat to defend the need to keep these docs secret, so perhaps a certain amount of fuss could have been avoided.
Be that as it may, the idea behind this is apparently to fuel an effort to get a referendum to remove the cameras onto the ballot in 2010. Kubosh and Kallinen think that these docs will have something in them that will expose the program as a fake, or something. And who knows, maybe they’re right, though again it seems to me that if the city were concerned about it, they’d be putting up more of a fight to keep the docs secret. (They may yet appeal the initial ruling, so it’s not a given that they’ll hand them over.) All I know is that Kubosh was sure that the city’s camera program was unconstitutional, and he’s since given up that fight after losing in court.
Let’s assume for a minute that the docs do all get released, and there’s no smoking gun in them, though there are a few bits and pieces that Kubosh and Kallinen seize on to press their case. What are the odds their desired referendum passes? Offhand, I would say they’d have a chance, but I’d make it no better than a coin flip. They’ll have passion on their side, which certainly counts for something, but I can’t quite shake the feeling that their base is mostly Republicans who mostly don’t live in the city of Houston. Paul Kubosh, for example, doesn’t live in the city of Houston, at least according to his voter registration card. If this would be a city of Houston referendum, as I presume it would be, he himself would not be eligible to vote for it. I could be wrong, and I’d love to see some polling data on this, just as I’d love to see an update to that original badly-flawed study, but I’m not nearly as sure as they are that there’s gold at the end of this particular rainbow.