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Why Did Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Halt Interstate Cleanup in Austin?

In late-2019, I submitted an open records request to the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDoT) seeking an explanation for why they halted highway cleanups in the Austin area. I requested documents relating to the decision to discover why — of all the thousands of miles of interstates and highways that TXDoT crews clean regularly — Austin was excluded until the city council decriminalized homelessness. Only when public camping became the new avenue for Republicans to bash Democrats did Gov. Abbott “send in the state” to clean up Austin’s interstates and highways again. But why did he stop it in the first place? TXDoT, in concert with the Governor’s Office, sought an opinion from Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to block the release of documents explaining why they halted the highway clean-ups. A few months later, Paxton wrote back and ordered them to release some of the documents that he did not believe were exempt from public review under the Open Records Act. Since that determination, TXDoT has completely stopped responding to me — and never released the documents I requested that were ordered released by the Texas Attorney General. So, my question now is: what are they hiding?

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