Stacking the deck

Our city council has directed our city attorney to draft an ordinance that would require the concurrence of three city council members in order for one of them to place an item on the city council agenda.

Our employee (the city manager) would evidently be free to place as many items on the agenda as she/he wishes.

This is quite simply a naked power grab.

We don’t know whether this idea is being promoted by the moneyed people who influence council or if city staff wants to further subjugate their masters.

We do know that two of the candidates for the district one seat are outspoken and not bashful about speaking out strongly against things that they disagree with.  Is this proposed ordinance a way to limit the potential disruption that one of these candidates might bring to the plan that is directing the city?

One of the city council members pointed out that the proposed ordinance could cause violation of the Texas open meetings laws.  The law specifically prohibits serial meetings between council members  where city business is discussed.  Requiring three council members to place an item on the agenda will require at least three of them to have discussed an item out of public view.  If a council member wanted to put an item on an agenda she/he would have to reach out to other council members.  If one of those members said no then it would be reasonable to expect the council member to try someone else.  That could bring us to four members who had discussed the item, one shy of a law violating quorum.

The ordinance is a very bad idea.

We deserve better

Brutus

18 Responses to Stacking the deck

  1. good governance oxymoron says:

    Item 7.1 of the CC agenda may have something to do with this
    http://agenda.elpasotexas.gov/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=268&doctype=AGENDA

    Niland is appointing Joyce Wilson to the Charter Advisory Board.

    Limiting the ability of some to post to the agenda insures certain charter amendments are not allowed for discussion i.e. CM form of govt etc.

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  2. in the know says:

    Brutus, please check out the Times article on fees assessed by EPWU to RESIDENTIAL customers. City Council mandated this fee last fall to avoid balancing their budget. They said that homeowners would not be charged a fee. Well, now EPWU has found out what council asked them to do is illegal. So — homeowners are going to start paying for Council’s folly despite what council promised.

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  3. Reality Checker says:

    If your rep cannot put an item of interest to you on the council agenda, how is that rep able to represent your interests? How will your voice be heard? Let’s say that you feel compelled to address city council on a topic that your rep cannot get on the agenda. You have to file an application to speak and tell them the topic you wish to speak about. You might or might now be allowed to speak; if you do, you are limited to 3 minutes. How is this not a subversion of our representative process and government by the people and for the people? It’s looking more and more like government by a few for a few.

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  4. in the know says:

    This was not a power grab but simply a way to prevent a certain CC member from continually over stepping her position to put ridiculous items on the agenda causing the meetings to last way too long, Do your research…

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    • not in the know says:

      Thank you, Courtney or Ann or whichever council member you probably are. It’s interesting that some council members feel they can censor others for no legitimate reason. If the majority of council members really have an issue with the quality of the items one council member puts on the agenda, then show some integrity and courage by calling the council member out publicly and debating the problem in public instead of playing procedural games, I would rather see an honest cat fight than this Mickey Mouse move. Also, quit worrying about reducing the length of council meetings. Or is one meeting a week too much to ask?

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      • in the know says:

        The city’s strategic plan, agreed upon by unanimous vote, has a section called Good Governance. One of the items is that three (or maybe it is two) council members are required to put an item on the agenda. This is similar to co-sponsorship at the federal level. Not every little concern is worth public discussion, If it is worthy, then getting support from other council members would be easy to obtain. Council was simply following their own strategic plan. — And I am not a council member nor am I female.

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    • MEPT says:

      Yes, so let’s do away with democracy so that ridiculous government will cease. A military junta would be the way to go.

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  5. Brutus says:

    I wrote that the city council instruction was for the city attorney to draft an ordinance. In fact council requested a resolution.

    Brutus

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    • good governance oxymoron says:

      Neither a resolution or strategic plan are binding to council.
      Council has a long precedence of waivering when it suits them.
      This can and probably will be challenged in court if they try to prevent a CC rep from placing an item on the agenda.

      The comparison to the federal level is absurd when you look at the number of congressmen vs council reps percentage wise.

      They simply need to require and enforce that all backup be submitted at the same time as the agenda item or the item does not get posted. This requirement should include staff as well as the CM.

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  6. balmorhea says:

    This Council is gettin’ on my nerves. They spend a lot a time on procedural items, such as where to place Call to the Public. Before the Awards and Recognition section? After it? At the end of the meeting? On a Saturday? Now they want three reps to concur before an item is placed on the agenda. What part of this is NOT a violation of the open meetings law? Stop reinventing the wheel, Council, and just do your job — please.

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  7. Reality Checker says:

    More stacking of the deck. More back room deals. More of the same. It’s looking more and more like Lesser, Noe and Romero have gone over to the dark side and joined the oligarchy. This rule would be a tool to punish Robinson and Limon, who have a tendency to speak out against the oligarchy’s agenda. if this goes through, Robinson and Limon cannot even get their constituents’ needs on the agenda unless the two of them stop opposing the oligarchy’s plans. Robinson and Limon could not put discussion of a topic on the agenda if that discussion was believed to be in opposition to the oligarchy’s plans. I see more legal fees in our future.

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  8. Jerry Kurtyka says:

    So CC reps need to have 3 sponsors for an agenda item but the CM can singly place an item on the agenda? If that is correct, the CM trumps CC.

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    • Reality Checker says:

      Yes, but I’m willing to bet that the CM will align with the proponents of this rule and the monied special interests who pull their strings. Don’t expect him to do the bidding of Robinson and Limon if it puts him at odds with the others.

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  9. But, so typical of this Council. We do not need a City Manager, but we do need a Council that can remember from one day to the next, just who the hell elected them, and for what purpose.

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  10. Mock EPT says:

    Yeah, but that way Claudia Ordaz doesn’t have to work hard to prepare for agenda items as she whined. Pretty things like that can’t sweat it.

    Like

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