muzzle-freespeechAs you all know by now there was much discussion last Tuesday about how city council is going to conduct its meetings in the future. In all, eight motions were voted upon as a result of the debates. Some of you have asked me about the debates and about what has changed. In regards to my offering any commentary, I don’t believe it is necessary, as there really is nothing too controversial. As for the debates, there is nothing that other bloggers or the news media hasn’t covered already and therefore there is nothing more than I can add.

However, I wanted to share with you what was voted upon so that you can get an idea about where each of the city representatives lie on each of the issues. Eight votes were held on eight items.

The first item codifies that when any city representative puts an item on the city council agenda, the item will not appear until the second week. In other words, if the city representative puts an item on the agenda this week, it will not appear on the agenda next Tuesday, but the next Tuesday after that. The argument made was that it would give city staff an opportunity to prepare a presentation for the item.

This change passed unanimously.

The second item requires that all agenda items must have “back up material” when posted to the agenda. It was pointed out during the debate that “backup materialwas not defined and thus it can be as little as a piece of paper labelled “back up material” to a complete set of documents explaining the agenda item. It was suggested that a form, with labelled fields, would be developed to attach to all agenda items.

This item also passed unanimously.

The third item allows any city council representative to put a presentation as an agenda item at any time.

This also passed unanimously.

The fourth item was a proposal to require all agenda items placed by any city representative to have an additional two city council representative signatures attached to the item.

This item failed when the Oscar Leeser cast a vote against it. Also voting against this requirement were Peter Svarzbein, Carl Robinson, Claudia Ordaz and Lily Limon.

The next item directs the mayor to turn off the microphone on any speaker at the podium that does “not follow the rules.” There was much discussion as to what the rules were. In the end, city council agreed that they would declare a point of order and ask the mayor to shut off the microphone for a speaker. A vote would be taken by city council to determine whether there is a violation of the rules.

This item passed unanimously.

The sixth item proposed moving the call to the public from the Tuesday meeting to Monday.

This item failed with only Larry Romero, Emma Acosta and Michiel Noe voting for it.

The seventh item moved the call to the public to after the ceremonial and proclamations of city council.

Peter Svarzbein and Cortney Niland voted against this change.

The final item allows motions to be made verbally. Basically, instead of waiting to be recognized any city representative can yell “second” or make a motion at any time.

Only Lily Limon voted against this change.

Tuesday’s actions now must be drafted into an ordinance that city council will first introduce, hold public hearings on and vote on them.

As you can see, the only item that would have stifled community debate, the one requiring two additional signatures was defeated. The only item that may have some stifling of community input is the turning off the microphone for not following the rules. The rules are ambiguous. However, the city attorney seems to be leaning towards ensuring speakers are allowed the freedom of expression.

As there is still public debate necessary to adopt the rule changes there is still a possibility of some changes being made to these rule changes.

Martin Paredes

Martín Paredes is a Mexican immigrant who built his business on the U.S.-Mexican border. As an immigrant, Martín brings the perspective of someone who sees México as a native through the experience...

3 replies on “Tuesday’s Changes to City Council Rules”

  1. Funny how the more things change the more they stay the same…

    The seventh item moved the call to the public to after the ceremonial and proclamationsof city council.

  2. So what you are saying is that your infographic is misleading… and you’re also proving that council members didn’t vote in defined blocs and that the ones you hate in fact supported your position. Remember this day – everybody on council was your buddy!

  3. “El Pasoans deserve much better than what they’ve been receiving from their city government.”…It’s all good

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