• July 30, 2014

Attorney general orders city to release info in skunk case

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Posted: Wednesday, September 25, 2013 4:30 am

The Texas Office of the Attorney General has ordered the partial release of several documents sought by the Killeen Daily Herald through a Freedom of Information Act request showing the havoc wreaked by a skunk upon a Killeen city facility in May and June.

A skunk caused several employees to leave work sick over the course of five weeks as it continually invaded the city’s hub for information technology, located at 218-B E. Avenue D.

The AG ordered the release of 13 employee incident reports written by city staff at the facility each time they had to leave work because of the noxious fumes of the skunk.

A total of eight employees developed symptoms they attribute to the skunk’s odor, which was described as “overwhelming” and “unbearable.”

One employee, an executive assistant at the building, experienced a sickness attributed to the skunk four times from May 10 to June 19.

City staff attempted to eradicate the skunk and its odor through the use of cleaning chemicals.

Staff was moved to the Killeen Arts and Activities Center and returned to the Avenue D building only to be confronted by the terrible skunk odor once again in June.

All the employees indicated it was the smell of the skunk that made them sick except one, who mentioned the possibility of cleaning agents causing sickness. That employee said the skunk smell and the odor of “Febreze” caused unspecified symptoms on June 13.

City officials also said that a product known as “Air Medic Fresh Linen” was used to help clean the building.

According to documents released by the city, Air Medic can cause “severe irritation” and redness to the eyes, as well as “headaches, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting” and other symptoms if ingested.

City spokeswoman Hilary Shine said the building is now only partially used. The city leases the facility for $3,800 a month and is in the process of permanently relocating IT staff to a new facility. Their lease ends in September 2014.

“It has been in our long-term planning to find a city-owned space to reduce the amount of leased space the city has,” Shine said.

The smell has not returned in at least a month, Shine said.

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5 comments:

  • BrianSupak posted at 9:49 pm on Wed, Sep 25, 2013.

    BrianSupak Posts: 9

    City spokeswoman Hilary Shine said the building is now only partially used. The city leases the facility for $3,800 a month and is in the process of permanently relocating IT staff to a new facility. Their lease ends in September 2014.

    Partially used by who? The skunks?

     
  • UTMick posted at 5:01 pm on Wed, Sep 25, 2013.

    UTMick Posts: 1

    The Texas Public Information Act requires the City to send the request for documents to the Texas Attorney General to review the information to insure it does not invade anyone's privacy, violate attorney client privilege, contain information about an ongoing criminal investigation, relates to competitive matters for public utilities, relates to pending or anticipated litigation, or contain personal information that the City is prohibited by law from releasing to the public. Release of protected documents to the public is a crime.

     
  • SilverPirate posted at 9:50 am on Wed, Sep 25, 2013.

    SilverPirate Posts: 1

    The AG's office dictates what information can be released with and without their approval. My guess is that since the reports contained medical information due to the sickness, the AG's office had to approve it before the information could be released.

     
  • Proud Mother of an Army Avi8er posted at 9:48 am on Wed, Sep 25, 2013.

    Proud Mother of an Army Avi8er Posts: 201

    'City spokeswoman Hilary Shine said the building is now only partially used. The city leases the facility for $3,800 a month and is in the process of permanently relocating IT staff to a new facility. Their lease ends in September 2014."

    So lease it to someone else and avoid the situation...hmm.

     
  • wilcfry posted at 8:46 am on Wed, Sep 25, 2013.

    wilcfry Posts: 93

    Is the city really that keen to not release public information*, that the newspaper had to request it from the attorney general?

    Did the newspaper request it from the city first? What did the city say? That should have been part of this story, I think.

    If the city flat-out said no, what could possibly be its reasoning?

    * City documents are public information, by law.