San Antonio

Online convenience is the future, but laws cannot be forgotten

Most companies handle as much of their customer interactions online as possible. It has become entirely normal to us. From paying bills with an app to shopping online, to discussing complaints through chat bots – this is the way of the future.

Recently, Vote.org sought to make voter registration as simple as possible by using online outlets. This nonpartisan group’s mission is to make voting as simple as possible through technology. Their site seems to do just that, claiming “it takes less than two minutes to register.”

Preparing to report campaign finances after an election

As election season wraps up within the next few weeks, Texas candidates and political committees will once again prepare records of their campaign finances. Throughout your campaign, you must frequently submit a report to the Federal Election Commission, so take a moment to review the requirements online.

Identifying A Conflict Of Interest As A Public Official

Imagine the San Antonio city council is set to vote on a new zoning regulation that is anticipated to raise the property value of small businesses along the River Walk. Ray Smith is a city councilman who is considering voting in favor of the new regulation. While neither he nor his wife owns a small business on the River Walk, their son-in-law recently inherited a store that would be impacted by the new regulation.

Even though the councilman himself will not benefit financially from the decision, his son-in-law's business poses a conflict of interest. This is a fictitious example of how a public official can have a conflict of interest regarding a business entity or real property by the first degree of affinity.

Adopting social media communications requires legal diligence

Blaring sirens that alert the public to emergencies remain foundational in many communities for reaching the people about need-to-know news. Social media serves as an adjunct method for quick dissemination of information to large populations. But many cities appreciate that platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and even texting, provide options for communication beyond just emergency situations.

Many use these tools to engage citizens in discussion about ongoing and developing issues of public interest. But such access also has implications in the context of laws that city's cannot ignore.

Paying for court-ordered public works

How's your city's infrastructure? Is it something you are proud of, or is it something of a sore spot aesthetically and financially? Do you even know what we're talking about when we refer to infrastructure? According to at least one city planning educator, the word is only about 35 years old. He says "public works" is the traditional term and he suggests it is better in that it describes the function and audience served.

While maintaining public facilities may seem one of the most mundane of government functions, most city officials will agree that it is often an important issue in voters' minds. Yet, staying on top of such things as fixing streets and sidewalks can be expensive. It can be easy for such projects to be put off and the action defended due to a shortage of funds.

Recall elections: A legal course requiring due process

Someone once said, "All politics is local." And nothing hits so close to home as municipal level politics. The normal cycle of things has elections, initiatives and referendums occurring on a regular schedule in compliance with applicable laws.

On occasion, however, conditions arise that spark action in the opposite direction resulting in a recall election process. Once again, is incumbent on those in positions of power to be sure any steps taken regarding recall action occur in accordance with the law. Transparency is an important factor.

Going on a rampage is not always a bad thing

Readers unfamiliar with our firm might be a bit surprised by our claim that we practice "rampage law." It's an understandable reaction; the definition of rampage being, according to Webster's, an outbreak of violent, raging behavior.

That is not what we practice. Rather, we use the word to signify our recognition that the challenges government organizations across Texas face today are different than what they faced yesterday, and that today's solutions won't always address the needs and legal requirements that clients will face tomorrow. Our philosophy calls on us to meet each clients' unique needs to do their jobs better by focusing our firm's combined legal experience to find creative solutions.

Minimize legal flashback risk over employee firings

Most of the people working for Texas government offices are solid employees, fulfilling their duties as effectively as they can or the system allows. Every once in a while, however, a worker fails to hit appropriate metrics.

If it happens once, civil service policies for the community can establish a plan for correcting the situation. If the issue is one of chronic underperformance, governments have a right to seek to terminate such employees. Often, though, dread of red tape or fear of possible discrimination lawsuits stalls action by managers and administrators.

What are penalties under Texas Open Meetings Act

In previous posts, we focused on requirements of the Texas Open Meeting Act (OMA), and the attention to detail required to ensure that processes and procedures are in place to ensure that government activities are conducted legally and transparently. In this post, we will offer a view of the consequences that public officials could face if someone claims violation of the law.

It does not take much to get a legal action started under the OMA. Any interested person, whether he or she is a private citizen or a member of the news media, can approach the court, usually at the district level, seeking intervention.

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    San Antonio, TX 78212

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