Why Did Gov. Abbott Stop Austin Highway Cleanings?

December 19, 2019

Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made headlines when he sent in the state” to clean up Austin’s homeless encampments along interstates and highways. One thing no one has asked, though, is why he stopped the clean-ups in the first place.

To illustrate just how cynical Texas Republican leaders are in their use of power to prolong their reign and deny others’ basic rights, I’ve requested communications between Gov. Abbott’s office and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDoT) regarding the halting (or pausing) of highway cleanups in the agency’s Austin district. I’m interested in learning why the governor ordered TxDoT to stop cleaning Austin’s highways prior to the decriminalization of homelessness.

I believe it was done intentionally to attract media attention, punish homeless and steal their property.

So far, I’ve received no alternative explanation. Instead, TxDoT and the Governor’s Office are claiming releasing such communications would create a chilling environment for the sharing of frank opinions within the executive.

Follow along:

1 DEC 2019:

Received notice that the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has forwarded my requests for all communications from the Governor’s Office regarding pausing or halting highway cleanups in the Austin area to the Attorney General’s Office for an opinion as to whether or not they are considered privileged communications not subject to public disclosure.

Nothing to hide there, I’m sure.

Letter from TxDOT:

Letter from TXDoT, page 1/2Letter from TXDoT, page 1/2

Letter from TXDoT, page 2/2Letter from TXDoT, page 2/2

UPDATE 12 DEC 2019:

The Governor’s Office filed a brief with the Attorney General agreeing with TxDOT that they don’t have to release the communications to the public:

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UPDATE 19 DEC 2019:

Today, I emailed TxDoT’s PIO to ask if there were any documents responsive to the request that are not covered by the exemption. Awaiting reply.