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Kelley claims Metro is holding out

So now the Metro document shredding case gets more interesting.

Documents supplied by the Metropolitan Transit Authority in response to Houston attorney and former City Controller Lloyd Kelley’s open records request were incomplete and “sanitized,” Kelley said Friday.

“I know for a fact that I didn’t get all the e-mails,” said Kelley, adding that people within Metro, whom he didn’t identify, have told him of documents responsive to his request that weren’t included in what he received from the agency. “They’ve definitely sanitized this stuff.”

Metro board Chairman David Wolff, who provided the same documents to reporters Thursday, said they were a complete response to the open records request.

Kelley’s comments came amid growing indications that two legal challenges to Metro — Kelley’s records case and an expected lawsuit by the agency’s fired chief counsel — will feature accusations that the transit authority hasn’t met legal requirements for retaining documents.

Kelley obtained a temporary restraining order Wednesday forbidding Metro from destroying any of the e-mails, travel records and other documents he requested in January. A hearing in the case is scheduled for Friday.

Kelley said his open records request was made in connection with his representation of a client. He wouldn’t name the client or explain specifically what he hoped to learn from examining the documents.

It’s a little hard to judge Kelley’s accusations here without knowing those details. How can you know if he got what he asked for if you don’t know what he asked for? That said, this is Metro’s screwup. The onus is on them to prove they’re doing what they’re supposed to be doing, and as noted by Mayor Parker later in the story, they do not err on the side of too much information with open records requests. I hope for their sake that the hearing on Friday will show that they have complied with Kelley’s request, but I won’t be surprised to find that they did not include some things.

Oh, and Metro does have a documents retention policy. I’ll leave it up to you to decide if they’re any more transparent than Governor Rick Perry is.

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