How Transparent Are We Really?

By Becky Hall

Months ago, The Suburban Newspaper made an open records request of the City of Duncanville Police Department in an attempt to verify the arrest of Mayoral candidate and City Councilmember Mark Cooks for assault family violence. A jury trial is scheduled for April 30, 2014 at 9:00 a.m.
The request which would normally be routine, was delayed, pending an appeal by City Attorney Bob Hager with Nichols, Jackson, Dillard, Hager & Smith, LLP to the Texas Attorney General.
Following months of waiting, the Attorney General ruled in favor of The Suburban Newspaper and the documents were eventually forwarded despite delayed attempts by Hager.
The public information act was created to protect, above all, the public’s right to know. As a longtime City Attorney, Hager should understand that transparency in government is essential to an informed public and as a means to an informed electorate.
We believe the City Attorney should support our request and right to know what takes place behind closed doors, not impede it.
We ask, what could be more essential to an informed public than the public’s right to know that one of its public officials was arrested?
Likewise we ask, what could be more important than the public’s right to know when a city employee has spent taxpayer dollars on carpet for their boyfriend’s home, as in the case of the City of Seagoville?
Accused by some in Seagoville of attempting to cover-up the embezzlement of $70,000 in public funds by redaction and omission of documents, Hager is under scrutiny and maybe rightfully so. The Texas Rangers are investigating.
There are even allegations that Hager fabricated a quote from Seagoville Mayor Harold Magill. Like Seagoville, when Duncanville City Councilmembers ask tough questions, Hager has a habit of deflecting and attacking. In regards to Hager, Magill said, “I’ve received several threatening comments from him. I think this is retaliation for speaking out.”