Hankins Violating the Texas Open Meetings Act again?
The Time in 2016 When Ron Hankins Tried to Intimidate a Citizen at the Somervell County Hospital District board meeting
14 May 2019 at 9:35:44 AM
Had some issues a couple of years ago and lost a few posts. One of them was an instructive one from a board meeting in October 2016 in which Ron Hankins treated a local Glen Rose citizen poorly when she attended the Somervell County Hospital District meeting. Apparently only if you happen to agree with Ron Hankins are you free not only to come to an open meeting but be free from insinuations and whispering.
A woman named Donna attended a board meeting. Now, you should know that these meetings are sparsely attended by the public, so being a good citizen and attending or otherwise attempting to be informed should be encouraged.
Rough transcript from video below.
?: I'm sorry I didn't catch your name
Donna: My name is Donna
?: I was wondering where you're getting your information.
(First, whoever this rude person is that is asking Donna this clearly doesn't understand the Texas Open Meetings Act, but Ron Hankins does and should have shut this down. A person doing a comment during public comment section is addressing it to the board and not to the peanut gallery.)
Donna: I follow: I actually watch the videos... for a period of time I've seen a lot of underhanded deals. Some crazy things that have happened
?: You live in a different town than I do
Donna: No ma'am I was born and raised in this town and it goes back to the founders
At this point, Ron Hankins, rather than stopping this, scootches his chair over to Dwayne Griffin to whisper in his ear, presumably to tell Griffin who this lady is.
Donna: Ron, you got something to say, say it out loud.
Hankins: Okay, tell em who you are
Griffin: I didn't know who you were
Donna: My name is Donna West Long. Does that help you?
Griffin: No. I still don't know who you are
Donna: My mother was the first mayor of Somervell County. My great great grandfather was one of the founders of Glen Rose.
Then Ron Hankins insults and *schools* the citizen making the comment
Donna: I'm not here to pick on y'all. I'm really not
(Laughter from the room without Hankins stopping it
Hankins: You could have fooled me, Donna
Donna: Ron Hankins, you know me better than that. And you knew my mother better than that
Hankins: Yes ma'am.. But what you're doing, Donna, you're second-guessing Ray and all the rest of us about what we're doing. You're Monday Morning Quarterbacking it, and I know exactly what's going on and everybody else knows what's going on.
One of the things I have always found ridiculous about Ron Hankins is that he makes ignorant assumptions based on what he believes is "really going on". Was he sending out brain wave signals to inform everybody what Donna was there for, since "everybody else knows what's going on?" hah.
But, in the context of a Texas Open Meeting, should he be bullying someone who comes to comment? And is he supposed to engage (or allow the kibbitzers not on the board in the audience to engage) with another citizen? What has concerned me ever since I saw this on video is that this type of action could deter people from attending meetings to make comments if they know they're going to be called out and told they can't say what they want to say.
TOMA Handbook p 39
A meeting that is “open to the public” under the Act is one that the public is permitted to attend.265 The Act does not entitle the public to choose the items to be discussed or to speak about items on the agenda.266 A governmental body may, however, give members of the public an opportunity to speak at a public meeting.267 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.268
Repeating that last "IT MAY NOT UNFAIRLY DISCRIMINATE AMONG SPEAKERS FOR OR AGAINST A PARTICULAR POINT OF VIEW". That would sure include denigrating Long's views by saying she's *second guessing". No, citizens get to have viewpoints OTHER THAN THE ONES RON HANKINS APPROVES OF because, er, this isn't a dictatorship, even if Hankins wishes it was.
Would probably be a good idea for Hankins to be required to go back and take TOMA training again.