GALVESTON — The city council Thursday will hold a special meeting next week to discuss its legal options against The Daily News after an article unveiling the city’s plans for potential legal action over future public housing on the island.

The article was based on a legal opinion written by Dallas attorney Terry D. Morgan. Morgan was commissioned by the city council in March and provided a report to city council members in April. The memo outlines potential ways the city may try to stop some scattered-site housing units from being built on the island and ways the city might be able to convince state and federal leaders that the units would be better located in other parts of the county.

The issue was the last one taken up by the city council Thursday and was proposed by City Attorney Dorothy Palumbo.

‘I have no choice’

Earlier in the meeting, Palumbo asked a Daily News reporter to turn over any confidential city documents in his possession.

Palumbo cited a part of the state’s records law that says a governing body “may demand and receive from any person any local government record in private possession created or received by the local government the removal of which was not authorized by law.”

“I have no choice but to ask the council to call a special meeting so that I can pursue that under this local government code provision to receive the record back,” Palumbo said. “It is confidential. There was no authorized release.”

Rosen’s request

Daily News attorney Charles Daughtry said the law Palumbo cited clearly related to original documents, not various kinds of copies, which, like those cited in The Daily News article, had been obtained through normal, legal and Constitutionally protected methods of news gathering.

The Daily News did not supply any documents to the city on Thursday.

“We’re going to need to pursue litigation,” Palumbo said.

Just before Palumbo’s call for a special meeting, Mayor Lewis Rosen asked for Palumbo to prepare a report on how the revelation of the legal opinion “violated attorney-client privilege.”

“I would like to take whatever legal action is necessary,” Rosen said.

Reached after the meeting, the mayor declined to comment further about the issue.

The special meeting will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

‘Cause some issues’

There was little other public discussion about the city’s scattered-site plans during the meeting, aside from a few references made during a report by City Manager Michael Kovacs.

“I think the story that came out today talking about the city’s legal positions, that I think, may cause some issues with the GLO,” Kovacs said during an update on the state of the city’s allotment of Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery money.

“It’s important to note that the city is not initiating anything like that,” Kovacs that. “The council’s been criticized for not doing a good job of working on our legal option, and we’ve done that.

“It doesn’t mean necessarily that we’re going to use those options.”


At a glance

WHAT: Special Galveston City Council meeting

WHERE: City hall, 823 25th St.

WHEN: 11 a.m. Tuesday

Contact reporter John Wayne Ferguson at 409-683-5226 or john.ferguson@galvnews.com.

(11) comments

RonShelby
Ron Shelby

Pretty Poor management on the City's part. From this reaction, its clear that at least some members of the council may have known this wasn't the best path to pursue.

Control your leaks...but in the end you are accountable to the citizens of Galveston. That means all of the citizens of Galveston. If you don't want something like that getting out, either control the leaks or don't start down that path of policy exploration. Otherwise, be prepared for the reaction if it does.

Its not the newspapers fault. You should have used better common sense by having another organization hire the lawyer and make the inquiry.

Gary Scoggin

Sounds like they need to call in Eric Holder

George Croix

Summarizing:
Someone Else is to blame for our own inability to control our business, so let's make them the scapegoat(s) and draw attention away from ourselves.
Council should be holding meetings in the Oval Office.

Raymond Lewis

This city attorney is going to take the council and the city over a cliff... If she is allowed. A meeting to decide to sue the news paper for printing stuff it got from you. Really?Although I know you will not, but council , get rid of this attorney before you/we get burned badly.

Ellen Morrison

Totally agree, Ray. Ms. Palumbo is dangerous. I've heard of other issues that have arisen from her, as well.

Wishing won't make it so, but boy, I wish Suzie Green was still here!

Gary Miller

Attack the reporter instead of the leaker? When was Eric Holder hired by COG CC?
The reporter should make copies then give the originals received from (someone?) at city hall to the DA.

Steve Fouga

Man, I wish more Galvestonians read the paper. This is the sort of incompetence all citizens need to be aware of. We can only hope that at least some of these small-time bumbling politicians and their minions will be ridden out on a rail in the next city elections. Those few that choose to seek re-election, that is. I can't imagine their wanting to showcase their embarrassment for another term.

Good job, GDN.

Mike Leahy

This is great! The Daily News has done just what big time newspapers do and got in there and found some political / city official dirt. And now they want to pursue legal action against you to plug their leak? Tell 'em to call E.Howard Hunt, he has some experienced plumbers. Oh, and change the locks on your office building quick.

Yet again, city officials plan to squander the taxpayers money on lawyers, this time to do US Constitutional battle with a newspaper. Daniel Ellsberg is available for consultation work.

Congratulations GDN, you have made it to the big time and I support your efforts (possibly for the first time...). Thank you for keeping the citizens informed.

Don Ciaccio

Palumbo should be fired immediately. How dare her demand anything. She works for us!

Ellen Morrison

We'll see if the gang of 4 still holds true... someone needs to break from that group so that there will be 4 votes to take her out. Trouble is, I can't see the weak link. They've tied themselves together pretty tightly.

Jarvis Buckley

How do we know it wasn't the lawyer that leaked the info. Gets his name in print now doesn't it.

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