City legalizing obscure agenda items

The mayor is asking city council to change the rules relating to how an item gets placed on a city council agenda.

Basically he wants any item that a city council member wants on the agenda to have the signature of at least two city council members.

This language would continue to be part of the ordinance:

Adequate Back-up For Agenda Items. All submissions from City Council Representatives
and the Mayor must be accompanied by adequate back-up to provide the council members, public
and City staff with sufficient information to ascertain the details of the topic and action that will
be requested. The City Clerk will not post an item on the agenda if the request for submission is
not accompanied by a fully completed “Agenda Summary” in the form provided by the City Clerk.
The Agenda Summary shall be the minimum amount of back-up acceptable.

The “Agenda Summary” is the mechanism they use to get around disclosing details if they don’t want to.

The ordinance says that the summary is the minimum amount of back-up acceptable.

The summary does not tell us much.  The very agenda item that contemplates the proposed changes has this agenda summary:

In other words they don’t really have to let us look at the legal and business documents relating to an agenda item.

They just need to file a form that says something like “We plan to take some action relating to doing something”.

We deserve better

Brutus

9 Responses to City legalizing obscure agenda items

  1. The Oracle says:

    I do not know of 2 people on the entire planet, that could “Express Exactly” the same thoughts on the same subject, EQUALLY just as effective.
    Each person that Represents a Group, could not possibly communicate in the same way, with the same effectiveness and cover the same points with the same meaning(s).
    Some points and suggestions COULD contain suggested solutions, instead of just “presenting a problem” with all of its nuances.

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  2. abandon hope says:

    Item 29.3 from yesterday’s meeting in Council’s new Rules of Order should be of interest to many people. “Any group of five (5) or more wishing to speak on the same topic will be asked to select one (1) representative to speak for the group and that individual will have three (3) minutes to address Council.”

    http://agenda.elpasotexas.gov/sirepub/cache/2/o4ijb24akvxkqvdavxzrlsiq/22048001242018063218708.PDF

    I don’t know if this is a change or has been in the rules before. Personally, I think this a is reasonable rule. However,many people are probably not aware of this rule and will cry foul if and when it is enforced again as during the Duraguito debates several months ago.

    There is also a provision for members of the public to register support or opposition to an agenda item on an audience participation form. The tally of these forms is presented to Council.

    I did not listen to the meeting so do not know is this was approved.

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    • Brutus says:

      I believe that the new rules allow the mayor to use his discretion and allow people to speak for longer periods if he wants to.

      Brutus

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    • Fed Up says:

      How is this reasonable? I vote for a city rep, who is supposed to represent me. If my rep doesn’t share my point of view on an issue, he will not speak for me. So, then I want to attend and speak for myself, but I have to yield to yet another person, who I have probably never even met before and who might not be able to communicate my point of view. The worst part of it is that it filters out substantive comments. They know that if they make it hard for people to speak, people will just quit trying.

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      • abandon hope says:

        When lots of people show up to speak on one topic, many are from the same or similar groups who know each other. It is a waste of everyone’s time for dozens of people to repeat the same points over and over. Call to the Public is not therapy, it is no theater, it is a chance to make viewpoints known. I would have no problem allowing someone else to represent my viewpoint if I knew we agreed.

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  3. […] former Representative Lily Limon pointed out in a comment on this post on ElPasoSpeak, this raises the possibility of a violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act, if a council member […]

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  4. Helen Marshall says:

    If I read this correctly, it requires two council members to support a third council member asking to place an item on the agenda? So THREE reps have to agree to get something on the agenda???

    Like

    • Brutus says:

      Helen,

      You are correct in that the agenda summary says “to require the concurrence of two additional city council members”.

      Neither the old ordinance nor the proposed amended ordinance says that.

      This is just another example of the incredibly sloppy work that the city does.

      The new ordinance is flawed in other ways. We may have a future post about this.

      Brutus

      Like

  5. Lily Limón says:

    All representatives should be up in arms against this action. It serves to silence those who do not agree with the mayor and/or certain representatives. By requiring two signatures for an action item you could very certainly be easing into a walking quorum issue. Every representative should have the right to place an item on the agenda, Otherwise this is an action that makes representatives an elected official that has no voice.

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