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MEMORANDUM

DATE

March 18, 2015

TO

City Councilmembers

SUBJECT

Open Microphone Speakers

City Councilmembers SUBJECT Open Microphone Speakers I was unable to attend the March 4, 2015 city

I was unable to attend the March 4, 2015 city council meeting, but I watched the video of it. I asked Warren Ernst to clarify the confusion about what responses to public inquiry or comments are permitted during the city council meeting public comment open microphone portion of the agenda. The key point is that, while the Act allows for open microphone speakers to address the city council on topics of their choosing, it does not mean that councilmembers are then free to further deliberate or discuss the topic raised.

Warren explained that:

1. As you are all aware, the Texas Open Meetings Act requires that all meetings of the city council be open to the public with written notice of the date, hour, place, and subject of each meeting (with executive session exceptions).

2. There will be times when a member of the public, in addition to speaking on her or his chosen topic, may inquire or ask a question about that topic. In those cases, only the following responses are permitted under the Act:

(a)

a statement of specific factual information given in response to the inquiry; or

(b)

a recital of existing city policy in response to the inquiry.

3. Any deliberation or discussion of the subject by city council must be limited to a proposal to place the subject on the agenda for a future meeting.

4. The Act defines deliberation broadly to mean a verbal exchange during a meeting between a quorum of a governmental body, or between a quorum of a governmental body and another person, concerning an issue within the jurisdiction of the governmental body or any public business. Deliberation and discussion are the same for purposes of the Act.

5. An example of a statement of factual information or recital of existing policy permitted under the Act could include a citizen asking about a malfunctioning traffic

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signal and a councilmember calling a staff person to reply with a statement of specific factual information about the condition of that particular traffic signal and any planned repairs or explain city policy regarding malfunctioning traffic signals.

As presiding officer, I will be following those instructions from our City Attorney. Finally, in conducting city business, we should all be mindful of the city council code of conduct adopted by the city council in our rules of procedure.

Thank you, Michael S. Rawlings Mayor
Thank you,
Michael S. Rawlings
Mayor

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