Open Meeting Violation City of Glen Rose? (April 10 2010) -Okay to Have Vague Agendas? Somervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas

City Council Needs Training in Open Meetings

Open Meeting Violation City of Glen Rose? (April 10 2010) -Okay to Have Vague Agendas?

11 April 2010 at 12:00:52 PM

Why are government agendas posted before meetings, at least 72 hours before? The obvious reason is so that citizens can know what is going to be discussed and plan if they want to be there to hear. Or, as in a case like the man from Lake Granbury Medical Center, so that he can attend and make a public comment since there's a subject concerning his type of business discussed and he's NOT on the agenda. If there is no meeting posted, the meeting ought to be cancelled and rescheduled so that citizens have a chance to hear-in other words, it should NOT be okay to hold a meeting that was not known to the public just because no action might be taken. Another way to say this, is it okay to have someone show up at a meeting where the item is NOT listed and government officials can talk about whatever it is? No. From the Corpus Christi Times, 2008

Elected officials aren't allowed to talk about anything that isn't on the agenda.

Further, the Texas Attorney General said that the Corpus Christi city meeting's agenda were too vague.

Joe Larsen, an attorney and board member of the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas, said the opinion was a victory for open government advocates.

"By keeping the agenda vague, they seem to be allowing themselves free rein to speak about anything," he said. "That really undermines the whole idea of putting an agenda out. The whole idea is to keep the public apprised of what council is going to be talking about."

Here's, in part, according to the Corpus Christi paper,what the AG ruling said.

The attorney general opinion said the questioned agenda items don't "sufficiently notify a reader, as a member of the interested public, of the subjects to be addressed at a meeting."

City staff and council can respond to spontaneous questions by reciting city policy or giving information if that subject is on the agenda, but can't discuss anything else.


"Our conclusion here is not altered by the fact that the governing body does not, as you assert, 'engage in any discussion' or 'take any action regarding these items,' " the ruling said. "A governmental body is subject to the act even if the members merely receive information and do not engage in deliberations."

This is a link to the AG ruling-which at this moment I'm unable to access because the OAG site is inacessible.

Here's what the DMN said about that ruling.

The opinion states that posting vague items on a government body's agenda such as "superintendent's report," "mayor's update" or "council and other reports" without detailing the topics to be discussed in those reports doesn't adequately inform the public.

Dave LaBrec, a governmental law attorney for the Dallas firm Strasburger and Price, said the opinion is a win for open government advocates.

"It doesn't matter if you are taking action [on an item]," Mr. LaBrec said. "The criteria is, the public's got a right to know."

I went to the special session yesterday (Saturday) of the City of Glen Rose Special Session for April 10, 2010. There are a number of parts I will be vid clipping in the next day or so, meanwhile the audio as well as agenda are here. The first item on the agenda was:

1. Budget Workshop

Darrell from the code enforcement office wanted to bring in a business contractor to make a pitch before City Council for doing work to the water treatment plant. (You may recall that another engineering firm recently came in (March 8 2010)  to do a pitch, with the hook of writing grants gratis for the City. I found that Enprotec was also doing business for the Somervell County Water District.  At least that was on the agenda for that week, although the company making the pitch, Enprotec, was not mentioned. ) In this case, there was nothing about this company coming, it was under the vague umbrella of budget workshop. Further, the city council members engaged in a back and forth with the potential contractor. (on the audio of entire meeting) Another note, suppose you also were someone in business that wanted to get a chance to present before City Council-shouldn't you KNOW that is going on? Perhaps then you could ask to be added to the agenda to present YOUR company (and especially so if you're actually a Glen Rose/Somervell county business). Here's from the start of that part.

I believe that all of City Council need to get training on the Open Meetings Act, IN PERSON, not just from the internet (assuming that's how they all did their mandatory open government training, which is required of all Texas elected and appointed officials).  I don't think they are intentionally violating the Open Meetings Act, but this is an ongoing problem that needs a fix.

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1 - Thomas   17 Apr 2010 @ 9:05:37 PM 

What was the penalty for breaking the law.the same thing hapened in bi spring  but no one will do anything crimnal about it.

2 - salon   17 Apr 2010 @ 11:26:39 PM 

@Thomas-what did you do about it precisely? Open Meeting violations go to the DA.

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