The city of Kendleton apparently failed or refused to respond to a Texas Attorney General’s demand for information last year regarding a formal request for public records — and it’s landed the mayor in hot water.
In December, a Fort Bend County grand jury indicted longtime Kendleton Mayor Darryl Humphrey on one count of refusing to comply with the Texas Open Records Act request, a Class B misdemeanor offense punishable by up to six months in jail and/ or a fine not to exceed $4,000.
According to the indictment, Humphrey, in his capacity as mayor, failed or refused to turn over or allow access to or copying of documents concerning city contracts, city ordinances, city payments, and more to Todd Doucet, owner of Lazy K RV Park.
District Attorney Brian Middleton’s office conducted the investigation and presented the case to the grand jury. Humphrey told The Herald earlier this year that he couldn’t talk about the issue.
City Secretary Christina Flores told The Herald on Friday a gag order prevents the mayor or city staff from commenting on the issue.
Doucet told The Herald earlier this year that the city of Kendleton unfairly raised the water rates of his RV park. Doucet said the city of Kendleton raised his monthly water bill from $100 per month to $700 per month.
Doucet said he suspects the city did so to prevent Lazy K from competing with the city’s own RV park. Doucet provided a copy of his December 2021 water bill to The Herald.
Doucet said he asked Mayor Humphrey about the increase and Humphrey assured him city ordinance allowed for the increase. However, when Doucet asked to see the specific ordinance, Humphrey and the city refused to comply, Doucet told The Herald.
Humphrey told The Herald that many of his citizens pay far more for water service for their single-family residence than the Lazy K RV Park did for all its hook-ups per month.
“That doesn’t seem fair, does it?” he asked.
Doucet said he hired an attorney, Phillip Knop with the Cordoba Law Firm of Lake Jackson, who filed a Texas Open Records request with the city, and it was never answered or complied with.
Knop provided a copy of the Open Records Request, dated Feb. 9, 2022, to The Herald.
Municipal governments in Texas have 10 working days to respond to an Open Records Request, either by providing the information or notifying the requester that the city was seeking a ruling by the Attorney General.
Yet Doucet said he never received any response from Humphrey or the city.
Knop confirmed he never received a response from the city or Humphrey. And it appears the city and Humphrey never asked the Texas AG for a ruling.
In a letter to the city dated March 4, 2022, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton notified the city of Kendleton that it had been notified by Knop that the city had not responded to his Open Records request. Paxton’s letter was addressed to Flores, the city secretary.
The Texas AG also notified the city that Paxton’s office had not been asked by the city to make a decision on the matter.
“The office of the Attorney General has received a complaint from Phillip Knop alleging the city of Kendleton has failed to respond appropriately to a request for information,” Paxton told the city of Kendleton. “Our records do not indicate a request for an Office of the Attorney General ruling has been made in accordance with (the Texas Open Records Act).”
Paxton’s office recommended the city comply with the request for information unless the request would violate state laws. To determine whether the request would violate state laws, Paxton’s office asked the city of Kendleton to provide a written response to the AG’s letter within 10 business days.
The AG’s office provided a form to expedite the matter.
“You may use the form to certify: (i) the requested information has been or will be released to the requester; (ii) the city has no information responsive to the request; or (iii) the city has requested or will request an attorney general’s decision regarding the requested information.”
It appears the city or Humphrey did not respond to the AG’s Office or respond to Doucet’s request for information as Humphrey was indicted for failing or refusing to release the information.
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