(Post submitted by MaryEllen Kersch)Â
Williamson County Commissioners Court to assertions that WCCC procedural rules violate citizensâ€™ Constitutional rights:
Per the Wilco posted agenda [.PDF] for the Tuesday, March 25th meeting:
â€œThe Commissionerâ€™s Court of Williamson County, Texas will meet in regular session in the Commissioner’s Courtroom, 710 Main Street, in Georgetown, Texas to consider the following items:
19. Discuss and take possible action regarding â€œRules of Procedure, Conduct and Decorumâ€ plus other matters regarding commissionerâ€™s court meetings including video recordings of court sessions being posted online.â€
Birkman has proposed some inane edits to the existing, un-Constitutional language of the rules. No changes to the objectionable dress code and gag-rule are to be addressed (although she is striking the rule against interviews being conducted inside the courtroom during recesses and breaks); Mr. Gattis, it would appear, has added consideration of the video recordings being posted online.
Despite numerous complaints about First Amendment violations of the rules passed in October, including an appearance by a representative of the A.C.L.U., ignoring their own promises (twice) to address these issues, the WCCC remains unconcerned about, and unresponsive to, legitimate protests to their arrogant disregard for the laws they are elected to respect and defend.
September: WCCC is operating without procedures required under the Texas Open Meeting Act; they are privately contacted about this and take no action. Citizens wishing to address the WCCC continue to receive uneven and inequitable treatment. A complaint is filed (twice) with District Attorney John Bradley, which he declares â€œunworthy of criminal charges.â€
October: In an illegal meeting (agenda was posted to the county website less than 24 hours before the meeting convened, with the resulting complaint also being ruled â€œunworthyâ€ by the District Attorney), the WCCC passes their procedural rules containing a gag rule and dress code. (Mr. Bradley first denied any dress code was included, then declared a complaint about the unconstitutionality of those sections, also, â€œunworthy.â€)
November: Subsequent to an article in the Round Rock Leader confirming that, indeed, WCCC had instituted a dress code, Mr. Gattis said WCCC would review the rules after seeing how they worked for a few weeks.
January: ACLU attorney Rebecca Bernhardt attends WCCC and points out inconsistent adherence by WCCC to their own rules at that very meeting, also admonishing them that there were First Amendment issues with the dress code and gag rules. AAS quotes Mr. Gattis as stating an intent to take â€œanother lookâ€ at those sections.
March: The primary elections over, Ms. Birkman proposes doing away with the restriction on interviews in the meeting room during recesses and makes some inane editorial alterations to a few inconsequential passages. No changes were proposed to the objectionable dress code and gag rule. Mr. Gattis adds to the constitutional insult by raising issues relating to internet posting of videos of the WCCC.
Williamson County Republicans at work—on behalf of, not the citizens of Williamson County, but themselves.