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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:In 1989, the United Independent School District (UISD) and Webb County foreclosed on a 17-acre parcel of land located in Laredo for nonpayment of property taxes. The UISD and Webb County purchased the property, One River Place, for $15,080 when there were no bidders at the foreclosure sale. The UISD retained a 73.4 percent ownership interest in the property and held the remaining 26.6 percent interest in trust for Webb County. By November 2001, One River Place had an appraised value of $35,875. On Nov. 5, 2003, attorney Ricardo de Anda, who acted as a tax collections attorney for both the city of Laredo and the UISD, delivered a letter to the assistant superintendent of the UISD concerning the city’s purported interest in purchasing One River Place from the UISD. The UISD board of trustees voted to approve the sale of One River Place to the city on Dec. 17, 2003. The UISD passed a resolution on Jan. 21, 2004, declaring that it accepted the city’s $42,000 offer to buy One River Place. The UISD Board of Trustees also executed a warranty deed conveying One River Place to the City for $42,000. The UISD forwarded its resolution and the warranty deed to City Manager Larry Dovalina shortly thereafter. The city council for Laredo posted notice of a meeting to be held on Feb. 2, 2004, to discuss, among other items, the purchase of One River Place. The notice listed all of the agenda items for that meeting, which included a request for executive session pursuant to Texas Government Code �551.072 in order to deliberate the possible purchase of the property. The Laredo City Council met on Feb. 2 in open session and announced that it was going into closed session. The council reconvened in open session after it had concluded its closed session and voted to authorize the purchase. The warranty deed conveying the property to the city was recorded on Feb. 3, 2004. Martha Escamilla and Maria Gonzalez, citizens of the city of Laredo, subsequently sued the city for declaratory relief, complaining the city committed multiple violations of TOMA in connection with its purchase of One River Place. The citizens sought a declaration that the city had violated the Texas Open Meetings Act (TOMA) and that the city’s purchase of One River Place was invalid and void. Webb County later intervened, seeking a declaration that the city’s actions concerning One River Place were invalid based on the city’s multiple violations of TOMA. The city filed a traditional motion for summary judgment on the citizens’ and Webb County’s claims of violations of TOMA. The citizens and Webb County responded by filing their own traditional motions for summary judgment, contending they were entitled to judgment as a matter of law because the city: 1. was not entitled to meet in closed session to discuss the purchase of One River Place; and 2. did not provide sufficient notice for the Feb. 2, 2004, meeting. The court subsequently entered judgment granting the citizens’ and Webb County’s motions for summary judgment and denying the city’s motion. The court entered an order declaring the land purchase void. The city’s appeal followed. HOLDING:Affirmed. The court concluded that the trial court properly granted summary judgment in favor of the citizens and Webb County, because the city’s closed session discussion concerning One River Place did not fall within the real estate exception to TOMA under Texas Government Code �551.072. There was simply nothing in the summary judgment record, the court stated, showing that an open discussion about One River Place would impede the city’s negotiations with a third party. The record, the court stated, showed that the city convenes in closed session pursuant to the real estate exception each time it intends to discuss the purchase of real property, regardless of whether the city’s deliberation process would impede the city’s negotiations with a third party. The court called this procedure contrary to the spirit of TOMA, whose provisions “are to be liberally construed in favor of open government.” In sum, the court held that the trial court properly: granted summary judgment in favor of the citizens and Webb County; denied the city’s motion for summary judgment; and declared the city’s vote to purchase One River Place invalid and void. OPINION:Stone, J.; Lopez, C.J., and Stone, J. DISSENT:Duncan, J., dissented without an opinion.

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