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Jo Clifton is the Politics Editor for the Austin Monitor.
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Pine Forest resident, Bastrop drop lawsuit
Monday, July 10, 2017 by Jo Clifton
Paul Burt, the Pine Forest resident who filed suit against the city of Bastrop on two separate occasions alleging that the City Council violated the Texas Open Meetings Act when it voted to cancel a contract between the city and developer Robert Leffingwell, has dropped all claims against the city. The city has also dropped its counterclaims against Burt. Judge Carson Campbell, who presided over a lawsuit between Leffingwell’s development group and the city, county and school district, signed the order dismissing both Burt’s claims and the city’s counterclaims last week. However, Burt emailed a statement to the Austin Monitor indicating that he still believes that Bastrop, and particularly former Council Member Willie DeLaRosa, “flagrantly violated the Open Meetings Act by discussing and acting on the subject of the Pine Forest Investment Group contract without listing that subject on its meeting agenda,” in 2013. DeLaRosa lost his bid for mayor in the May 6 election, two days after Burt’s lawsuit was featured in a story in the Bastrop Advertiser. City attorney David Bragg accused Burt of filing the suit in order to hurt DeLaRosa’s chances of being elected. Bragg claimed in a court filing that Burt had violated an injunction related to the Leffingwell lawsuit, which is currently on appeal. According to Burt, “With my agreement, my attorneys approached the Bastrop City Attorney with a proposal that I drop my Open Meetings lawsuit if the city would drop its claim that I had violated the injunction. My attorneys warned the City Attorney that if he rejected this offer, we would proceed with,” an anti-SLAPP motion. The term refers to a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation. Burt pointed out that the Pine Forest Investment Group has included an open meetings issue in its recently filed appeal brief, so the issue is not dead.
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