The Rumor Mills Grind Away…
From time to time, this is to say on a daily basis, questions about government actions pop up on Facebook and Nextdoor social media websites. Unfortunately, I see them appear in local news media, albeit infrequently.
I find it humorous how one person posts a rumor on social media and as many as a hundred will chime in an opinion. In the end, how does this serve representative – republican – government?
There is an almost magical way to extract truths directly from local governments. It’s called the Public Information Act.
In brief, if you submit a written request to any employee of a local government, that agency has ten working days to promptly answer your request IN WRITING if the information is not classified confidential by law. You have a tremendous authority in this regard.
If you have the authority and don’t know it or don’t know how to properly exercise your authority, it is as though you have no authority at all.
Learn from an online video course provided by the Texas Attorney General. At the conclusion of this one hour course, there is a certificate you can receive so don’t hastily close the window.
Read: THE PUBLIC INFORMATION ACT to learn more.
Learn how to use the law via the Texas Attorney General’s online training video: Public Information Act Training.
This training is free and it’s mandatory for all persons engaged in local government, whether elected, employed, or sitting as a volunteer on a government board.
How to best use it
- Ask questions. Don’t waste time griping. Agencies are not required to do anything more than answer requests for information.
- If you have a gripe, state your gripe directly to the appropriate elected officials.
- Ask ONE question per written request.
- Don’t ask stupid questions. Doing so wastes taxpayer dollars that pay employees to expend time answering stupid questions. And, asking stupid questions will most often result in your personal embarrassment.
- Recognize that the elected office holders and employees are generally good people who truly want to lawfully and effectively serve you.
- Address your requests appropriately. For example, don’t ask the County about school tax rates; ask the school district.
City and County Elected Official Want to Hear from You
Rockwall County Commissioners Court
- Judge David Sweet
- Precinct One Commissioner Cliff Sevier
- Precinct Two Commissioner Lee Gilbert
- Precinct Three Commissioner Dennis Bailey
- Precinct Four Commissioner David Magness
City of Rockwall
- Mayor Jim Pruitt
- Place One Bennie Daniels
- Place Two John Hohenshelt
- Place Three Kevin Fowler
- Place Four Dennis Lewis
- Place Five Dana Macalik
- Place Six Mike Townsend
Rockwall ISD (Yes, the school district is government)
- President and Place 7 Trustee Stephanie Adams
- Place 4 Trustee Jon Bailey
- Place 2 Trustee Russ Childers
- Place 1 Trustee Christopher Cuny
- Place 3 Trustee Linda Mitchell Duran
- Place 6 Trustee Leigh Plagens
- Place 5 Trustee Jim White
In the case of the RISD board of trustees, they actually don’t want to hear from you. Nonetheless, the Public Information Act still works. To request information from Rockwall ISD, send your requests to Chief Communications Officer Renae Murphy via her email address firstname.lastname@example.org or call 972-771-0605 extension 7002. Renae responds quickly and politely to all requests for information.
The County Commissioners Court and the City of Rockwall City Council invite and welcome public commentary at meetings. While you can speak at school board meetings, don’t expect your comments to affect the outcome of board decisions – my opinion.