Counties to hire attorneys to review records about hiring attorneys, citizen comment not on the agenda in Mercedes, fight over Austin’s audit issue heating up

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In a public records fight pitting a small online news service against a group of Texas counties, the irony is rich, and the legal bills are hefty — on several fronts. Legal Newsline, an online legal news service, is looking into how much various counties are paying outside law firms to represent them in cases against opioid manufacturers. In those suits, the counties are alleging that the companies pushed the highly addictive drugs while claiming they were safe.

When city leaders don’t want to hear what their public has to say, they can just walk away. That’s what happened in Mercedes last week when the city manager and two city commission members appeared to walk away while a member of the public pleaded with them to consider a new street light in the town of 16,000.

Local political operative David Butts, whose clients include Mayor Steve Adler, has enlisted the Travis County Democratic Party to step up his attack on a Nov. 6 ballot question on whether an independent auditor should review all of Austin’s municipal operations.

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