New law may force city to release baseball stadium emails

EL PASO, Texas - The new El Paso City Council is hoping to find closure on the issue of releasing personal emails of city representatives regarding the baseball stadium and the relocation of city hall.

The council on Tuesday voted to postpone making a decision on the issue for another three weeks.  

Requested through on open records request last fall by local attorney and activist Stephanie Townsend Allala, El Diario and KVIA,  the city has refused to turn over the documents, arguing they are not public record.

The Attorney General issued an opinion saying the emails, even if they were written and sent through personal accounts, are public record because they deal with city business.

After the opinion, the City of El Paso, under the direction of the former City Council, sued the Attorney General and refused to release the emails.

On Tuesdsay, City Representative Emma Acosta proposed dropping the suit against the Attorney General and resolving the issue.

City attorneys advised the city council to postpone a decision for three weeks because of a new state law. The new legislation passed in the regular session of the State legislature, expands the definition of public documents to include written communication of public business on any device, said City Attorney Sylvia Firth.

Firth said the three weeks will give city staff time to prepare an option that will 'resolve the issue' and 'bring closure,' under the guidance of the new law.

"If you don't have anything to hide, there shouldn't be a problem," said City Rep. Carl Robinson, who's supported releasing the documents.

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