What Am I, Chopped Liver?

As many regular readers know, the TDHCA Manufactured Housing Division (MHD) is an independent division “administratively attached” to TDHCA.  The MHD has its own executive director and governing board.  Nevertheless, the MHD shares administrative functions with TDHCA and is undergoing sunset review with TDHCA.

Last June, early in the TDHCA sunset process, I presented the recommendations of the TDHCA Sunset stakeholder group (or at least those relating to manufactured housing) to the MHD board in public testimony.

The MHD board meets 4-6 times a year, and will meet this Friday for the first time since my public testimony.  The board book for that meeting was recently posted.

Reviewing the minutes for the meeting, I discovered no mention of my testimony. I looked at the MHD website for a transcript of the proceedings, but the MHD doesn’t post transcripts of their meetings, only the minutes.

It was as if I had never even been there.  No record of my testimony existed. With Halloween so close, it felt a little spooky. I had to check my personal records to make sure the whole thing hadn’t been a dream.

I called over to the MHD to inquire, and was informed that they only record formal actions by the board in the minutes.  This is unlike the TDHCA board minutes, which include a concise summary of public testimony.  I was told, however, that my testimony existed on the meeting transcript, it just wasn’t publicly posted.

What’s that saying about a tree falling in the forest?

In response to my call, the MHD is considering posting the complete transcripts of their meetings.  That would be an important first step towards a meaningfully open regulatory process.  Nevertheless, holes in the public record like this make the webcast of TDHCA and MHD board meetings even more important.  Many stakeholders in the governing process are unable to attend these meetings, but modern technology can make these events accessible and on record in real time.

We encourage the Sunset Commission to increase the transparency of the regulatory process for these agencies by adopting the stakeholder group’s recommendation to webcast TDHCA and MHD’s public proceedings.