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6 Investigates: Local Leaders Oppose Push for Transparency - KRISTV.com | Continuous News Coverage | Corpus Christi

6 Investigates: Local Leaders Oppose Push for Transparency

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AUSTIN -

Kelley Shannon of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas explained why open government is worth the fight.

"The whole basis of our democracy is the people's right to know," she told 6 Investigates on May 16. "And, keeping an eye on your government and participating in your government."

But a pair of recent rulings leave the public in the dark when it comes to how certain types of economic development deals use taxpayer money to lure companies to town.

Texas Supreme Court Justices sided with economic development advocates in a pair of cases involving the availability of information when it comes to economic development projects.

State Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R - Ft. Worth, authored a pair of bills aimed at reversing those decisions.  And yet, in one instance, both the City of Corpus Christi and the Corpus Christi Regional Economic Development Corporation, opposed it.

City Intergovernmental Relations Director Tom Tagliabue emailed 6 Investigates that since the Supreme Court has addressed the issue, the city registered against Capriglione's bill, which would've expanded the definition of a government body to any entity that  "receive public funds ... or is a party to a contract with a government body."

Capriglione explained the idea is to protect the public's right to know how quasi-public agencies, like economic development corporations, dole out tax advantages and other incentives.

"If there's an organization that takes government dollars and performs government services, then taxpayers should have the ability to see how those dollars are being used."

But Mike Culbertson of the Corpus Christi Economic Development Corporation warned lawmakers in April that the bill would hurt Texas' competitive advantage.

That's because other states might use Texas Open Records laws to force disclosure of competitive information.

"What we find is it hurts our competitiveness for us as we compete against other states."

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