Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Council Accepts Whitewashed Minutes

On October 15, 2019 I stated the following in public comment

"I am here to ask Council how the City decided to no longer record four boards and commissions.  That decision was made six months ago.  I found that out when I returned from a trip and I was interested in watching the Animal Services Advisory Committee.  It was not available for me to view.  The public can no longer watch on Channel 17 or the City's YouTube channel four boards.  They are:

  • Water Advisory Board (which only meets when y'all charge it to meet)
  • Civic Events Advisory Board
  • Animal Shelter Advisory Committee
  • Parks and Recreation Advisory Board
After noticing those meetings were no longer recorded I did contact Mayor Gunter and you were kind enough to reply, thank you.  The Mayor did indicate she was not aware of the change in her communication with me.  

I have learned the city does not have a policy on recording board meetings for the public to view.  It does have a practice and that's available on its website.  That practice changed six months ago today (changed on 4-15-19).

During the discussion of the frequency of one board's meeting City Manager Daniel Valenzuela said "It's what Council prefers from an advisory board."  It's clear Council was not consulted prior to the decision was made to drop video public access for those four boards.

Many of you ran on transparency and openness of government.  I believe that has been reduced by staff's action.  I encourage Council to explicitly shine some light on this, the rationale for the decision to stop and if Council wishes the public to continue to hear the advice you receive in these boards and their deliberations I would be grateful for that information.  Thank you very much."

The minutes of that meeting condense the above into:

""Citizen Alan Prest (SMD1) spoke regarding city board meetings."  
That sentence does not adequately represent my concern that four city boards/commissions are no longer recorded and shared with members of the public.  It leaves out my concern that this decision was made without City Council input and that staff refused to share any information as to why the decision was made.  It's clear to me that staff do not wish to be transparent with the public in this matter.  On 11-8-19 I requested Council change the minutes to reflect my actual concern, not some attorney's whitewashing.

Council has shone no light on staff's decision to reduce government transparency and accepted the whitewashed version of my public comment. What's the point of public comment?

Update 11-18-19:  Council minutes state the following for public comment on 9-4-2019:  "Operations Director Shane Kelton gave an update on potholes and encouraged citizens to report new potholes online or at 657-4231. He also mentioned job applications for positions on his crews are available at City Hall." 

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