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Unopened FedEx Box Protects McAllen, GEO Group from Public Records Request

The ordinary-looking cardboard box containing Boca Raton, Fla.-based GEO Group's proposal to build and operate a 1,000 bed facility in the city of McAllen, Texas remained unopened during the city commission's deliberations ("McAllen returns GEO Group's jail proposal unopened," 9/24/13). According to the article, few people awaiting the city commission's decision at  city hall noticed the box at all. 

"Technically, it was never received because the governing body instructed the staff to return it unopened," says city attorney Kevin Pagan. Thanks to this technicality, the city of McAllen is not required to divulge any of the contents of GEO Group's proposal. According to the article, the city commission made a conscious decision to not open the box, keeping GEO's proposal private, even though the city had no intention of accepting the offer. 

According to the article, had McAllen accepted and kept the proposal, the city would likely have appealed to the Texas Attorney General's office in an effort to keep the proposal's contents private. Several exceptions regarding the documents could have been made under The Texas Public Information Act.  

The cardboard box, whether mailed back to Florida by GEO Group or retrieved by the group in person, left city hall, legally erasing any memory of its existence.