Councilman Says He Jumped Through Hoops to Get Public Information - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

5/2/08

Councilman Says He Jumped Through Hoops to Get Public Information

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Lubbock City Councilman Todd Klein says he's had to jump through hoops to get more information on the publicly funded visitor center. Now, he's wondering why.

Klein requested information used by Visit Lubbock about the multi-million dollar facility set to be built at 19th and Crickets Avenue. He says he simply wants to see proof the center could bring millions of dollars to Lubbock.

"I put in a request yesterday (Thursday) for simple information of what are the pertinent documents and studies that would lead Visit Lubbock, the folks (which) are proponents of this," Councilman Klein said.

Klein says upon his request, a city staff member verbally asked Visit Lubbock for such paperwork.

"That person called me back and they're saying well councilman if you want that information you need to do a freedom of information request, which is really unheard of," Klein added.

"We never yet have got anything Mr. Klein. We only got a verbal request from his assistant at the city and finally this morning (Friday) we got an e-mail request from her," Gary Lawrence, CEO of Market Lubbock said. 

Market Lubbock Inc. is a non-profit public corporation, which oversees Visit Lubbock. It's also a corporation, which supports a new visitor center.  

Each year Market Lubbock receives more than $2.1 million from hotel-motel taxes. Since they receive tax dollars, the corporation must follow the Freedom of Information Act in which documents are requested in writing. According to law, a response must follow within ten days.

"We're not trying to make it difficult. We never make it difficult for anyone. But the law say specifically, and I'm looking at the law right here, to treat all requestors uniformly," Lawrence said. 

"If you are requesting information for a public corporation receiving public money that reports to a board of directors appointed by the city council, and that's overseen by the council members, you would think that they would provide that information without making someone jump through the hoops," Klein said.

Lawrence says he's provided council members with research supporting a new visitor center for the past three years. In addition, just five weeks ago he says he briefed the current council with more data.

"All the information that we're going to give to Ms. Fitch has basically been already given to the council at prior briefings," Lawrence said.

The city tells us a packet from Lawrence's office arrived for Councilman Klein just after lunch on Friday. To see the documents Klein received click here.

4/24/08
Lubbock's New Visitor Center Will Move Forward With Reduced Budget
Thursday the city council voted against a motion to put the visitor center project on hold, but then approved an amendment to lower the center's budget.
 

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