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Steve Miller Texas Watchdog 945 McKinney #221 Houston, TX 77002 May 23, 2011 The Honorable Greg

Abbott Office of the Attorney General Open Records Division P.O. Box 12548 Austin, Texas 78711-2548

On May 6, I filed a public information request with the Southwest Texas Municipal Gas Corporation, hereafter referred to as the entity, seeking a number of records. (exhibit 1) The entity responded May 11 and asserted that it was not a governmental agencybut we do provide public information a statement we contest. (exhibit 2) On May 17, the entity emailed me and said it would provide material I requested with the exception that employee privacy will be protected. (exhibit 3) I maintain that the entity is a public body in accordance with Tex. Gov't Code Ann. 552.003. It is governed by elected members of the city councils of Alpine and Marfa and in 2008 entered into an interlocal governmental agreement. (exhibit 4) The entity was created on behalf of the city of Alpine and the city of

Marfa for the construction of a municipal gas utility and transmission system, funded by bonds issued by the cities in the name of the entity. In 1998, residents of Alpine and Marfa authorized the sale of a portion of the entity, by a vote. The entity has the ability to incur debt if authorized by the governing bodies of the cities of Alpine and Marfa. Such power denotes the very essence of public accountability and governance. Further, I see no record of the entity seeking the appropriate guidance from your office, which wrote in 2008, Opinion No. GA-0666, regarding a decision on whether a body is a governmental agency: Moreover, such questions are properly addressed by the Attorney General under the PIA. When an entity that believes it is not a governmental body under the terms of the PIA receives a request for information, the entity should seek a ruling from the Attorney General's Open Records Division as to whether and to what extent, if any, the entity is actually a "governmental body." Additionally in the same ruling, the office states, d. 552.003(1)(A)(xii). This definition of "governmental body" applies to a private entity when that entity either expends or is supported by public funds. And please see exhibit 5, where the entity has paid its attorney, G. William Fowler, $50 for reviewing Freedom of Information request for a recording of an entity board meeting. It confuses me to think that they need to make such a payment when, as has been asserted by the entity, it is not subject to TOMA or TPIA. Thank you for your help in clarifying this issue. There are a number of affected residents in the entitys service area who have for years wondered about the status of this agency under the Public Information Act and the Texas Open Meetings Act. Regards

Steve Miller 832-303-9420