Clutterbuck V. Cweren

Attorney Brian Cweren recently asked for a list of all neighborhood organizations in District C from Council Member Anne Clutterbuck, who only released the list after being told by the City Attorney that she must.  CM Clutterbuck then wrote a letter (on City letterhead) to everyone on the list, saying:
“‘While most candidates prefer to meet their neighbors and acquaint themselves with civic leaders in a less adversarial manner, I have been advised by the City Attorney that I am required by law to release your information to him.'” (see article here)
I understand why CM Clutterbuck didn’t want to release this list.  Although her reasons were probably somewhat political (Cweren bought websites with Clutterbuck’s name when he ran against her in 2005), I think there are other (better) reasons for not wanting to release the list.  Her staff probably spent a long time compiling the list, most likely on City time.  I personally put together my own list when I ran in 2009, and let me tell you, it took a LONG time.  Although all neighborhood organizations are listed on the City’s website, the information is outdated.  Not all organizations have websites, so her staff surely spent lots of time tracking down meeting times and trying to get contact information.  Her staff members were paid with tax dollars.  To then turn around and give that information to a campaign would be like Houston paying for City staffers to work on a campaign.  If she gave that list to her own campaign workers, she could have gotten in a lot of trouble for doing campaign work on City time.
At the same time, this is a public document, so the City Attorney probably made the right call in making her release it, but I do see why she at least asked about it before readily giving it up.  If I was in that situation, I might have sent that letter out on campaign letterhead to not waste tax resources on something so trivial, but the request did go to a City office, so using her City letterhead wasn’t completely without merit. 


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