Last Tuesday evening I attended the Forney city council meeting where (6) members voted to release a report by the City Attorney which dispelled a statement by Mayor Rick Wilson that there was an “illegal meeting” on June 6th, 2017. Also at that meeting, by unanimous vote, the council members decided to move the “public communication” portion of the meeting from the end to the beginning of the meeting.
Prior to this meeting, local blogger Denise Bell wrote an article titled “Council Members Plan to Circumvent Public Information and Communication“. In this article Ms. Bell states that “there is no such thing as privileged information”. However, certain information is deemed “privileged” and not subject to public view and among those is any correspondence between an attorney and their client. And in this instance, although the city attorney felt this information was of a sensitive nature and should be covered by attorney-client privilege, (6) council members deemed this information as relevant to public view in an effort to provide some transparency.
The council also voted to move the “public communications” portion of the meeting from the end to the beginning. According to statements by council members before the vote, this is an attempt to allow the public to have their say before an item is voted on and to allow them to make comments in general without having to wait hours to do so.
In her article Ms. Bell writes, “Requiring the citizens to speak first is merely another way of ensuring that council members will not have to speak directly to the citizens they represent”. However, whether public comments are taken at the beginning of the meeting or at the end of the meeting, council members are never permitted to specifically address the public during this time.
For the record – Rick Wilson was the only dissenting vote on the release of the City Attorney’s report, and although he relented and voted in favor of moving the public comments to the beginning of the meeting, during the council discussion on this matter he shared many of the same sentiments as Ms Bell does in her article.
I will continue fact checking to dispel any rumors and innuendo that is polarizing our town.