Lawyers for the group Friends of KTRU are reviewing potentially damaging e-mails, which were obtained and first reported on byTexas Watchdog
, and are weighing whether to file an action against the University of Houston for possible open meetings act violations, says the station's manager, Joey Yang.
He tells Hair Balls that the group considered going after the university for possible violations earlier this year, after UH bought the station for nearly $10 million, but that due to cost concerns decided not to pursue any action.
However, says Yang, in light of recently released emails concerning the sale of the station, which appear to show that UH and its agent attempted to keep the purchase a secret while brokering the deal, the group is reexamining the evidence.
"It seems like they were certainly trying to get around the [open meetings act] deliberately," says Yang. "And if there is a potential open meetings violation, I think we will have to act."
According to Texas Watchdog, which published sections of several electronic messages obtained under the open records law, an agent representing UH sent an email in early April to UH officials stating, "The longer we wait (for an agreement) the higher the likelihood of one of the 'campus constituencies' causes a problem for Rice, which could disrupt the transaction."
Open records attorney Joe Larsen of Houston told Texas Watchdog that UH "may have violated the open meetings act because it did not name KTRU as the station in question in Board of Regents agendas to consider the sale."
UH officials have said that the university did comply with the law.
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Yang, however, says the recently released e-mails deepen his suspicions and frustrations.
"It's incredibly disappointing that they were going to take elaborate steps to dodge the students," says Yang, "the people who built up the station from the beginning. It's really back-handed of them and the extra steps they took to conceal it from us, it says something about the way the administration does business."
Trent Siebert of Texas Watchdog tells Hair Balls there are more e-mails to come, including communications dealing with the embargo deal the Houston Chronicle made with UH and Rice.
UPDATE: KTRU station manager Joey Yang says that the lawyers reviewing the emails will not be representing Friends of KTRU should the organization decide to move forward with action against UH.