Confidentiality Agreements by City Council for PEDC Report
eParisExtra.com has filed a Request for Public Information to obtain, and pay for, a copy of the PEDC report submitted by Defenbaugh and Associates.
Earlier this week, the city council members were each given a copy of the report and supporting documents, only after signing a confidentiality agreement. eParisExtra.com has obtained copies of these agreements.
Councilman A.J. Hashmi added a handwritten note on his that reads “Portions of the report that do not contain S.S. number or account numbers will not be treated as confidential.”
Chapter 552 to the Texas Code of Government is “liberally construed in favor of granting a request for information.”
However, there are certain pieces of information that are “expressly provided by law” to be exempt from the public information request.
Some of those exceptions include, but are not limited to: CONFIDENTIALITY OF CERTAIN PERSONNEL INFORMATION; LITIGATION OR SETTLEMENT NEGOTIATIONS INVOLVING THE STATE OR A POLITICAL SUBDIVISION; INFORMATION RELATED TO COMPETITION OR BIDDING; INFORMATION RELATED TO LOCATION OR PRICE OF PROPERTY; CERTAIN LEGISLATIVE DOCUMENTS; CERTAIN LEGAL MATTERS; CERTAIN LAW ENFORCEMENT, CORRECTIONS, AND PROSECUTORIAL INFORMATION; CONFIDENTIALITY OF CERTAIN PRIVATE COMMUNICATIONS OF AN ELECTED OFFICE HOLDER; CONFIDENTIALITY OF TRADE SECRETS; CONFIDENTIALITY OF CERTAIN COMMERCIAL OR FINANCIAL INFORMATION; CERTAIN INFORMATION RELATING TO REGULATION OF FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS OR SECURITIES; CONFIDENTIALITY OF STUDENT RECORDS; AUDIT WORKING PAPERS; CONFIDENTIALITY OF CERTAIN ADDRESSES, TELEPHONE NUMBERS, SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBERS, AND PERSONAL FAMILY INFORMATION; CONFIDENTIALITY OF CERTAIN PERSONAL IDENTIFYING INFORMATION OF PEACE OFFICERS, COUNTY JAILERS, SECURITY OFFICERS, EMPLOYEES OF CERTAIN CRIMINAL OR JUVENILE JUSTICE AGENCIES OR OFFICES, AND FEDERAL AND STATE JUDGES; CONFIDENTIALITY OF CERTAIN INFORMATION MAINTAINED BY STATE BAR.
All of these exemptions, and others are found in TX Code Chapter 552. It is possible that the PEDC report compiled by Defenbaugh & Associates contains some of these exceptions under the law that do not fall under the Public Information Act.
Stephen Grubbs, chair of the PEDC, wanted to take the time to review the PEDC report before releasing it to the public, to make sure that the PEDC and the City Council was not releasing any confidential or protected information to the public. Dr. Hashmi has ignored these exceptions, by adding an amendment to the confidentiality agreement that he signed that he would only keep Social Security numbers confidential.
Chapter 552 clearly outlines more items that are confidential and private than just social security numbers. Furthermore, sources tell eParisExtra.com that A.J. Hashmi has given at least some if not all of the report to The Paris News. When eParisExtra.com contacted Dr. Hashmi, he refused to answer all questions and hung up on the reporter.
eParisExtra.com was told by the city clerk, Janice Ellis, that it would take 48 hours to process the request for the report. Once the report is obtained, we will share the findings with our readers.
Click here to see copy of Dr. Hashmi’s confidentiality agreement.