This may be one for the record books.
The City of Austin is fighting our request for public records as we investigate the conduct of the City Right of Way Department. They are the folks who police the temporary blocking of streets and sidewalks for construction.
At Dolcefino Consulting we are used to government officials spending time and money to keep taxpayers from seeing their records, but the folks at Guinness Book of World Records may want to keep track of this emerging public records outrage.
We wanted to see e-mails and phone records of Right of Way Employees. Some of them have been the target of complaints that they use Austin’s already expensive permitting process to unfairly retaliate against developers.
You know how much the Right of Way Department wants to charge us to let us take a look?
More than $132,000 dollars.
The estimate from the City claims it will take nearly 6,000 hours and a quarter of a million pieces of paper to let us see the records. That would destroy a small forest, when we had asked for the records electronically.
Dolcefino Consulting has filed a formal complaint of overcharging with the Texas Attorney General’s Office. We want the State of Texas to file suit against the City of Austin.
The City of Austin already charges staggering right of way fees for developers trying to build new apartment complexes and office buildings. Those big bills are eventually passed along to taxpayers in higher rents.
The public has a right to know Austin.