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Open Meetings affidavit specifically mentions Riley, Morrison

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 by Michael Kanin

Details of a previously unreported conversation that allegedly took place between activist Brian Rodgers and Council Member Laura Morrison came to light this week when In Fact Daily obtained a copy of the affidavit that kicked off Travis County Attorney David Escamilla’s investigation of the Council for potential violations of Texas’ Open Meetings Act.


In one section of the document Rodgers claims that he met with Morrison for two hours at her home, in order to “get a feel for what serving on the Austin City Council was like, (and) whether she and I shared concerns for the city.” Rodgers then says that he told Morrison about the conversation that he had had with Council Member Chris Riley the previous day in which Riley allegedly divulged the fact that he and his colleagues regularly discussed Council agenda items before official meetings.


Riley has specifically denied that there was any intent on the part of any Council member to circumvent the Open Meetings Act.


According to the affidavit, Rodgers also says that Morrison told him Mayor Lee Leffingwell “paired me up with (Mayor Pro Tem) Mike Martinez so the three of us spent an hour in the Mayor’s office. That wasn’t working for me so I asked to just meet on my own with the Mayor for 30 minutes. People tried to make a big deal out of it like I wasn’t getting along with Mike or something, but that wasn’t it at all. I just wanted my time with the Mayor. So I walked in the Mayor’s office the next time and they still had me paired with Mike! I told them again I wanted my own time.”


Morrison did not return a call asking for comment on Monday.


Rodgers’ statement about Morrison is the fifth of five numbered claims he makes in his affidavit. After two boilerplate paragraphs where he states his name and attests to the truth of his testimony, he details his now-familiar allegations against Riley.


Rodgers says that Riley told him that “(i)n a week where we have a Council meeting, we each spend 30 minutes one on one with each Council member, the 30 minutes each with the Mayor and an hour each with the City Manager.”


After expressing some surprise at that fact, Rodgers says that Riley went into more detail: “The Mayor decided that it might be better if two at a time came to see him and spend a whole hour rather than 30 minutes each,” he quotes Riley as saying. “So, they paired me with (Council Member) Randi (Shade) and the two of us spend an hour with the Mayor … We know how each (other) will vote before we get to Thursday’s meeting. Spelman is the only one who might be a wild card and change his mind.”

After his discussion with Riley, Rodgers donated $350 to his campaign.


Escamilla would not comment on the progress of his investigation into the allegations.

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