Third Court of Appeals Schedules Email Hearing

allala_stephanieThe Third Court of Appeals has scheduled a hearing to determine whether Stephanie Townsend Allala’s request for Steve Ortega’s emails will go forward. The appeals court has scheduled a hearing on the case for May 22, 2014. As usual, you won’t be reading about this important issue anywhere else because apparently the local new media doesn’t get it.

You might remember that back in March I updated you on the city’s ongoing argument that it has delivered all of the emails in its possession to Townsend Allala and that it has no authority to compel Steve Ortega to hand over the emails in his possession. I have been clear on my position about how I believe the city’s position is wrong and I won’t bore you with the details again. In case you want to read about the March 17 city filing, you can read my report in “Latest City Filing Against Stephanie Townsend Allala”.

Now the issue is in the hands of the Third Court of Appeals. However they rule the issue will likely continue up the chain of appellate courts.

What is important to remember is that contrary to Oscar Leeser’s stated position that the city would comply and that litigation would end the fact is that the city is still paying an outside legal firm to defend Steve Ortega from having to comply.

The other thing that anyone interested in government transparency and the function of the news media in a Democracy should note is that no news media outlet is involved in the lawsuit demanding government transparency. Stephanie Townsend Allala is single-handedly fighting to keep the city honest with its citizens. She has spent thousands of dollars fighting for the right of the people to know what their government is doing.

It is unconscionable to me that the fourth estate, the traditional news media, which uses open records to report to you, is on the sidelines of this very important issue in government transparency. How is it that the news media doesn’t understand the importance of keeping government officials accountable by forcing them to communicate in the open is beyond me?

As the bloggers and nontraditional media continue to evolve the fifth estate, the relevance of the news media will continue to diminish. News professionals decry the changes they are facing in the news industry with the continued diminishing of revenues and resources yet when it comes to the cornerstone of their profession, holding government accountable, they are nowhere to be found.

Clearly the El Paso Times, masquerading as newspaper, has given up trying to be a news outlet and instead has become nothing more than a public relations outlet for the local government so I do not expect much from them. However, the television stations themselves remain silent in this very important issue as well.

By their actions, or lack thereof, it seems that the local news outlets have decided that reporting the news is best left to the social media and bloggers. Truly, a sad state of affairs.

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