DA Bradley Scuttles Open Meetings Complaint

Posted in Commissioners Court, Bad Government Republicans, Had Enough Yet?, Commentary, Williamson County at 2:07 pm by wcnews

Citing the Williamson County Commissioners Court’s (WCCC) “arbitrary actions regarding it’s agenda items and public comment on those agenda items”, the Open Meetings Act (OMA) complaint filed last month appeared to show clear violations by the WCCC of the OMA.

Late last week Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley sent word to complainant MaryEllen Kersch, through an investigator, that he did not think the complaint warranted criminal charges. Or, the way it seemed from the statement released by Kersch, much of his time or respect for the citizen that made the complaint:

An investigator from the office of Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley called me late this afternoon with a statement from Mr. Bradley that he found nothing in my complaint that warranted criminal charges.

The individual had no further information; he could not tell me if the complaint had been investigated by an objective outside agency with no conflict of interest in the matter, nor could he tell me if Mr. Bradley’s position was that there was, indeed, no violation. He knew only, he said, the short statement that he had shared with me. I requested that Mr. Bradley call me so I could be better informed.

It is ironic that the commissioners have been let off the hook on this, which is a matter of seeming importance going to the very root of open government and the relationship between the governed and their deciders.

While there was no need for Mr. Bradley to drop everything and focus on this, the least he could have done was have his office treat the compliant and the person that filed it with dignity and respect.

Notice that the investigator did not comment on whether a violation had occurred, just that the complaint did not warrant criminal charges. The DA appears reluctant to decide whether the WCCC’s arbitrary handling of agenda items, and public comment on those items, are in accordance with the OMA. Their actions as detailed in the complaint seem contradictory to what is stipulated in the OMA, (click here, then scroll down to “Managing Discussions at an Open Meeting“).

It is not mandatory for public comment to occur but if it does the rules must be fair and apply to everyone equally. Again from the complaint here are the violations that were stipulated.

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

  • Sometimes there is a sign up sheet, sometimes not.
  • Sometimes the sign up sheet is collected by the judge and followed, sometimes not.
  • Sometimes the judge allows speakers on one topic and not another.
  • Sometimes the judge limits the number of speakers on a given topic, sometimes not.
  • 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.

Bradley should let the citizens of Williamson County know why the arbitrary actions of the court in dealing with the public at it’s meetings are not the violations as they appear to be. Instead of hiding behind an investigator to do this for him. He should also be more forthcoming about who conducted the investigation. If not it makes it look like he’s on board with the court running their meeting as they see fit, without regard to what is set out in the OMA. This is just more evidence of how one-party rule in Williamson County has produced a government that is not only unaccountable, but openly disregards and disrespects, the people from which it derives it’s consent to govern.

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