File this under “it’s political advertising—oh wait! Maybe it’s not.”
On September 3rd the Sugar Land / Missouri City section of Community Impact News published a story describing the $494 million bond package and its four components; construction, transportation, safety & security and transportation.
Fascinated by the absence of a visible citation crediting the source of the graphic on this web version and noticing the lack of the typical political advertising disclaimer, I consulted a friend and together we mused “who produced the graphic?”
So I checked the archived PDF version of the newspaper and sure enough, on page 9, FBISD is cited as the source of the very colorful graphic.
But wait—there’s more!
What about that “community survey poll” I’d heard about through the rumour de jour? Was a poll of all or a subset of Fort Bend voters conducted? Which voting precincts were “randomly selected”?
Yep, you know what’s coming next.
I thought it would be deliciously wicked to file an Open Records Request for copies of the ad proof and payment receipts between Community Impact Newspaper & the school district, for a copy of the contract (if one exists) between Fort Bend ISD and Community Impact Newspapers—but to also request a copy of all vendor contracts, agreements, memos, emails and payment receipts, invoices associated with the company who performed the community survey poll of registered voters in FBISD I’d been tipped off to.
Here’s a screen grab of the Open Records Request I sent to the Fort Bend ISD Public Information Officer on September 8th, 2014:
A completely different “advertisement” was published in the paper copy of the Sugar Land – Missouri City edition of Community Impact Newspaper on page 18 –with no source citation, no political advertising disclosure-but this time with convenient voter registration, early voting and election day voting dates.
And acknowledgment of receipt of my Open Records Request or production of documents responsive to my request? Nope, not yet—and the ten working day clock is ticking.
I’ll post an update once the District responds.
Because I’m not implying or alleging any malfeasance on any part of the District–some folk just believe in better bond transparency.
P.S. The author is the Campaign Treasurer of “Citizens for Better Bond Transparency”—just so you know where I’m coming from.