That big, white slip of paper represents the long and winding road that has been the fight for basic information about how your City-owned utility is run. So, crack a bottle, we've vaulted another hurdle this week, albeit one with itty-bitty type.
After costly attorneys inside CPS and the Texas Attorney General's office had the chance to run over (and back up to run over again to confirm lethality) a nearly four-month-old request the amount your utility pays for inside/outside legal counsel and on bottom-line-busting lawsuits, I netted me a goodie: The amount they pay their own team of lawyers.
Why on earth they thought this was proprietary information is beyond me.
You may recall, I dredged up the whole ridiculous cat-and-mouse game they play with public records back in September.
I wrote then:
September 16, 2008
After a “good faith effort,” CPS attorneys are “in the process of producing most of the responsive information” about legal fees and settlements, but want to withhold the rest.
Can’t remember when we got curious about CPS spending on lawsuits … Oh yeah, the day we heard they had 20-plus pending against them.
Out-of-court settlements*** 2007: $301,825 2008: $610,750 to date
I am happy to announce, we all may now fill in that "No Answer" slot with the following from Exhibit A, delivered to our office this week.
Staff attorneys 2007: $1,381,939 2008: $1,382,302
That’s a lot of lawyering going on. Maybe it’ll pay off. A local attorney tells me that five new discrimination lawsuits against CPS Energy will not be settled out of court. That CPS has decided they don’t want to settle anymore, at least not since paying out more than $600,000 earlier this year in a gender discrimination suit.
I particularly liked paragraph three of the letter from the AG ordering the release of this information: "Initially, we note, and you acknowledge, that CPS Energy failed to comply with section 552.301 of the Government Code in requesting this decision." A very similar-sounding letter reached me a few weeks earlier: "CPS failed to comply with the requirements mandated by section 552.301."