Mayor Pam Miller of Glen Rose-The Exclusionary MayorSomervell County Salon-Glen Rose, Rainbow, Nemo, Glass....Texas
Mayor Pam Miller of Glen Rose-The Exclusionary Mayor
26 May 2010 at 1:54:20 PM
Imagine where you go to a meeting, any public meeting, and the person running the meeting makes comments to make you feel that you are not welcome to attend or speak unless you happen to meet a criteria she has established for herself. Let me say before I put in this video post that the Texas Open Meetings Act sets no restrictions on who is welcome to attend or have an opinion in an open meeting; that is, the definition of who attends is the *public*, not "the public who lives in a municipal area" or "the public who is able to vote here" or "the people who pay taxes here". I was astounded that Mayor Miller would even say such a thing.
Rough Transcript:Miller: One of the things, a couple of things I need to remind people. It's people who live in the city's responsibility, not trying to say oh you don't live in the city so your opinoin doesn't matter, but it will affect people's taxes here in the city.. those of you that live in the county it's not going to affect your taxes.
Open Meetings rule
C. Rights of the Public
A meeting that is “open to the public” under the Act is one that the public is permitted to attend.194 The Act does not entitle the public to choose the items to be discussed or to speak about items on the agenda.195 A governmental body may, however, give members of the public an opportunity to speak at a public meeting.196 If it does so, it may set reasonable limits on the number, frequency and length of presentations before it, but it may not unfairly discriminate among speakers for or against a particular point of view.197
Many governmental bodies conduct “public comment,” “public forum” or “open mike” sessions, at which members of the public may address comments on any subject to the governmental body.198 A public comment session is a meeting as defined by section 551.001(4)(B) of the Government Code, because the members of the governmental body “receive information from . . . or receive questions from [a] third person.”199 Accordingly, the governmental body must give notice of a public comment session. See supra Part VII.A.
The Act permits a member of the public or a member of the governmental body to raise a subject that has not been included in the notice for the meeting, but any discussion of the subject must be limited to a proposal to place the subject on the agenda for a future meeting. Section 551.042 of the Act provides for this procedure:
(a) If, at a meeting of a governmental body, a member of the public or of the governmental body inquires about a subject for which notice has not been given as required by this subchapter, the notice provisions of this subchapter do not apply to:
(1) a statement of specific factual information given in response to the inquiry; or
(2) a recitation of existing policy in response to the inquiry.
(b) Any deliberation of or decision about the subject of the inquiry shall be limited to a proposal to place the subject on the agenda for a subsequent meeting.200
See ANYTHING in that that indicates the people who speak must be prescreened by the governmental body about whether their residence qualifies them to speak? I go further to say that this type of comment is a form of intimidation to citizens, a form of discouragement to the *public* who may not live in the city but want to express what they believe is going on.
Mayor Miller is correct that actions taken by the city don't affect the property taxes of anyone who lives outside the city limits. I well remember the first time hub and I went down to Town Hall to vote and were told that we couldn't vote in that election- heh. it hadn't occurred to either of us that there was a distinction for where we live. I also agree that it is very easy for someone who does NOT pay taxes to have an opinion on what taxes should be spent on.
But Miller is wrong about the taxes, in part. Everytime we, as citizens, eat out or stay in a hotel or buy something local, we are paying taxes that are returned as either as hotel/motel tax directly to the city or sales tax for the state. And the 4-b tax is an additional sales tax ADDED to the state sales tax that goes back to the city. So, in other words, any time you or I buy anything taxable from a retail establishment in Glen Rose, we are HELPING TO PAY FOR THE RIVERWALK AND OAKDALE and whatever else gets decided upon as a worthy project to help fund. Unless perhaps Miller would like all county residents to quit shopping here and give all the money to, say, Granbury, Cleburne or Stephenville, or stop using entertainment venues in the City of Glen Rose; certainly sometimes it seems like there is a bias towards tourists as opposed to people who are residents of the area.
Maybe anyone who lives outside the city AND the county needs to be muzzled or reminded that, even though he or she can speak, their opinion will be discounted. By Miller's rule, that would include Billy Huckaby, who has property in Walnut Springs, which isn't even in this county, but rather Bosque County.
Craig Dodson said something very relevant last night concerning this, in the context of the discussion about who could be on 4-b. Pam Miller wrongly attempted to limit new appointed members of the committee to only those who live in the city, including her son. You can see the entire clip here; I have extracted just the part relevant to this discussion below.
I have been to a number of city council meetings in which ETJ's were discussed, that is, the idea of having people who live at the perimeter of the county sign an agreement that IF annexing to the city comes up, they will agree to be annexed by the city of Glen Rose, and not some other city (like Granbury). Seems like in that instance, the city cares a great deal about what non-city residents think. Also, the city has said, on many occasions, that they hope to get the population to 5000 people. Why? Because then the City of Glen Rose can become a home rule annexing entity, to go start grabbing property in the county to add to the city. The only reason they can't do this now, despite some that are anxious for it, is that the city does not have that type of annexing power-the property owner has to ASK to be in the city and cannot leapfrog other properties but has to have a contiguous property to be considered. Maybe at this exact moment in time, there are a lot of county residents who are not city residents, but it seems like bad policy to not only disregard but actively scold those who, like Craig Dodson, hope to be city residents at one point by treating them as second-class citizens. Second class citizens who may well pay taxes to the city in the future and hope to have a stake NOW in what that city might be.
And it's unnecessary.
Adding here that I personally don't want to be annexed by the city. It has nothing to do with paying taxes, but more that I like living in the country with few restrictions about how I must live-that would change if we were in the city. But I certainly don't mind paying the sales tax, etc and consider that MY CITY, which is my postal address, can reflect ideas of how I would like it to grow, prosper and be planned. And I find it appalling that Mayor Miller would attempt to stifle comment with her disingenous comments.
I had a conversation with someone from the Attorney General hotline today, and he did not know of any rule that allowed the Mayor to limit PUBLIC COMMENTS about a particular topic. Since they are taking public comments they cannot limit the discussion topics to those not on the agenda, however the City Council members cannot discuss anything that is not on the agenda except to discuss putting it on the agenda so they can discuss it.
Mayor Pam Miller was WAY out of line to try and limit the public comments to what 'she' approved.
Mr. Stricklin was expressing his opinion, didn't jump up and pound on the dais, didn't swear at anyone, wasn't shouting, etc. Miller had just asked for any discussion and ONLY because she didn't like his comment did she say "Bob..... that's enough". Just typing this has my jaw dropped open, it was like Mommy scolding an errant child.
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