State Rep. Terry Canales plans to draft legislation to make government more transparent after learning the City of McAllen does not have to release how much it paid singer Enrique Iglesias to perform at its pre-parade concert last December.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office concluded Thursday the city does not have to disclose how much it paid Iglesias.
McAllen City Manager Roy Rodriguez said Thursday the city remains bound by the terms of the contract not to disclose how much Iglesias was paid.
“All of us want to release that number,” Rodriguez said of the city commission. “But we just can’t. Quite simply, we would be in breach of contract.”
Canales, D-Edinburg, told The Monitor, while he still has to digest everything about the situation, he’s already talked with his staff about writing legislation that would ban municipalities, school districts, local governments and even state governments to get into contracts with tax dollars that are secret.
He said there are, of course, secret contract exceptions, like information about government security or health and wellness of a community.
“I believe we need to begin with the premise that transparent local government is the most prudent form of government,” Canales said. “Meaning that the citizens should always have the right to know how its dollars are being spent and how its government is being operated.”
Canales believes the latest events cannot be seen in a vacuum. He believes McAllen is a leader in transparency.
Canales has been involved with multiple bills dealing with transparency.
He coauthored House Bill 283, which relates to the “requirement that certain governmental bodies make audio and video recordings of open meetings available to the internet,” the bill reads.
The City of McAllen is out in front of many city governments, Canales said, with making meetings and agendas readily available online. He called McAllen a model for transparency in this regard.
Canales also authored House Bill 1587, which relates to “disclosing certain information about each substance used to execute a person convicted of capital murder.”
He said the city hired someone to do a job for the public; therefore, the public should be able to see that contract.
“I don’t think it’s in best interest of society or the taxpayer where any government can hide behind a contract,” he said.
Canales said this legislation will be filed once the next legislative session begins in January 2017.