Open Meetings Complaint Filed Against Williamson County Commissioners Court

Posted in Bad Government Republicans, Commissioners Court, Williamson County at 3:01 pm by wcnews

EOW has learned that A complaint has been filed with the Williamson County District Attorney’s Office against the Williamson County Commissioners Court for a violation of the Open Meeting Act (OMA). Here’s the rule that was violated as stated on page 16 of the AG’s publication Open Meetings Made Easy [.PDF]

“If a local entity allows members of the public to speak on an item at a meeting, the governing body may adopt reasonable rules regulating the number of speakers on a particular subject and the length of time allowed for each presentation. However, the body must apply its rules equally to all members of the public”

Citing the Commissioners Court’s arbitrary actions regarding it’s agenda items and public comment on those agenda items at it’s public meetings an OMA complaint has been filed against the Williamson County Commissioners Court. Here are the specifics:

RE: Continuing violation of Texas Open Meeting Act by Williamson County Commissioners Court

A. Under the Act, while the Court is not required to take public comments in general, if they do allow public comments, “(h)owever, the governing body of a city may adopt procedural rules for its meetings that are not inconsistent with the state or federal constitution, state or federal statutes, or with local …provisions.” ( http://www.oag.state.tx.us/opinopen/om_easy.shtml#N_52)

B. Per the standard, “If a governmental body allows public comment, it may set reasonable rules regarding the number, frequency, and length of presentations, but it should not discriminate against speakers.” (TML training. OMA)

C. The Court allows public comment.

D. The Court has no publicly announced and/or published policy re. any restrictions of public comment.

E. The Court has acted arbitrarily and with discrimination in procedure and restrictions on public comment in at least the following instances and manners:

1. Sometimes there is a sign up sheet, sometimes not.

2. Sometimes the sign up sheet is collected by the Judge and followed, sometimes not.

3. Sometimes the judge allows speakers on one topic and not another.

4. Sometimes the Judge limits the number of speakers on a given topic, sometimes not.

5. Sometimes the Judge changes the order of the agenda items at the beginning of, or during, the actual meeting, in a manner that results in citizen comment being restricted by that very change in time/order and does not allow comment when public planning to speak on that item appear to do so at a time in accordance with the published agenda order.

Apparently these kinds of shenanigans are what prompted the complaint. As stated above public testimony is not required but if it is, then rules apply and those rules must be applied “equally to all members of the public”. The OMA and the rules that it produced were put in place so that public meetings would be fair for everyone including the elected officials.


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