Last Tuesday, at the city council meeting, Cortney Niland told voters that she will not follow the rules set for city council meetings. Her outburst came during the discussion for agenda item number 33.1, which Niland added to the agenda, asking for council to resend its rule prohibiting the use of telephones and other devices during the meetings.

I have two problems with Cortney Niland’s stance on this issue.

The first is that one of Cortney Niland’s primary jobs, as a city council representative, is to set rules, ordinances and tax rates requiring the voters to adhere to them under penalties ranging civil to criminal. Niland sets the rules and laws that the electorate must follow. The voters do not have the right to pick-and-choose which rules, or laws to follow. Knowing that, what gives Cortney Niland the right to choose which rules she will follow and which she will ignore?

The second problem I have is that the rule prohibiting the use of electronics is not unique to city council. First and more importantly, the city council meetings are only held twice a month. Yes, that is right, twice a month. The other thing to keep in mind is that there are places where computers and smartphones are prohibited.

For example, several court houses, if not all, prohibit telephones even if you are not participating in the court proceedings. Also, you cannot accept telephone calls during a flight, whether it is a 45-minute flight or an 18-hour flight.

Her agenda item, asking for the change to the rules prohibiting electronic devices during city council meetings, failed with only Claudia Ordaz and Jim Tolbert voting with her. In response, Niland stated:

“Fair warning, I am going to have a personal device up here…if you want to kick me out…kick me out…I am not going to give up my kids for you, not for you, I will not do it.” (August 23, 2016 city council meeting at about 3:55:27)

Does that mean that Cortney Niland will also violate federal law while flying? Basically, that is what Niland is telling you, the voter, that the rules are not for her.

Both scenarios have consequences for violating them. The federal government can jail a violator. City council can assess different penalties to the violator. In the case of Niland, the rules limit her ability to remain in touch with her children for a period of time.

Cortney Niland’s argument is that she is the “sole caregiver” for her children and must remain available to them. As you know, city council meetings are on Tuesdays, a school day.

The reason that the children need to contact their mother is irrelevant because the children are at a location where there are adults present that can address any issues that may arise. Even in the worst case scenario, Niland would be contacted via the City in any emergency. Therefore, her argument about the children is a red herring.

Now, let’s talk about the hypocrisy.

Respect and courtesy for one another to do the right thing” is how Cortney Niland characterized her request to change the rules. However, “respect” is a two-way street.

When city council listened to her pleas, deliberated and voted as a whole, the result went against Niland. An individual who “respects” the process would have moved on, although likely disappointed. Not Niland, who, instead, disrespectfully told her colleagues that it didn’t matter what they voted on, she would defy them. How is that “respectful” to the others? Better yet, does Niland believe that respect is only when she gets her way?

I would never have taken this job had I known I had to give up” communicating with her kids is something that the electorate should remember when Niland announces that she will be running for another office in the not too distant future.

The funny thing, obviously lost in Niland, is that her fighting with Lily Limon was central to the eventual prohibition of electronic devices at the dais. Remember, it was Cortney Niland who accused Lily Limon of recording her with a smartphone during the city council meetings. It really can’t get any more hypocritical than that.

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...

10 replies on “Cortney Niland Tells Voters She Will Not Follow Rules”

  1. No surprise, they all do as they wish. Ordinances only apply to the public.

    Remember the special justice for past and present council members. Then county has their own rules.

    If she doesn’t care, then why not resign? No one is forcing her to stay in office. In the most serious emergency, I am sure 911, police, teachers, neighbors, family would contact her.

    Why doesn’t the mayor sanction her ? Why doesn’t her district recall her? She stated she didn’t care !

  2. The City CONcil is not controlled by the state, and so they can set any rule they want under restrictions of the charter that was built by City CONcil. A truly big scam in itself. Since when did CIty CONcil decide to have their meetings only 2X a week? What other scam do we, as taxpayers, have to deal with these “authorities”. There are too many people here that worship government like a religion, and, so, making noticeable improvements or changes with the corrupt CON that is city council doesn’t happen.

    1. Council voted last year to hold a specific number of meetings a year. Can’t remember the exact number, but that means they can sometimes hold a meeting every two weeks, sometimes every week. Lately it’s been every two weeks. Personally, I prefer fewer meetings because Council can do less harm that way.

    2. The council did not vote to have meetings 2x a week. The VOTERS approved the meetings be held every other week.

  3. Since the rules have changed, Cortney can do us all s favor. She can do us all a favor and leave office. Resign Cortney. Your children need you, and truth be told you’re one of the most disliked politicians in this town.

  4. Totally agree, Martin. I’m pretty sure Ms. Niland has a husband who could be contacted in an emergency. Many working mothers are out of contact with their children from time to time and somehow most children manage to grow up safely. Ms. Niland needs to leave her phone with her assistant during meetings and give him/her permission to answer any calls from her children. And this policy applies to all meetings, not just Council’s Tuesday ones. Ms. Niland’s stubborn refusal to obey rules that are inconvenient sends a terrible message to other Council members, her constituents and, most of all, to her children. Council’s vote to ban personal devices during meetings shows there are still some level-headed representatives despite the hair-brained Niland/Tolbert/Ordaz vote.

  5. My two cents: pretty much my fellow commenters have said what I think should be said. That SAID 😊 let’s get real. How long is the average City Council meeting? How many “emergency” calls do any members get during this time space? Niland used the “kids vacation” to excuse her not being involved in the Gonzalez evaluation and the subsequent “propina” given him. Nobody cares she is a single Mom or the Mother of Nature. She should give her phone to her assistant and when that “emergency” call comes they can alert her. It is all about “attitude” as Martin said. I would think her best response (other then MY brillant suggestion) would have been to keep her petite pie hole clammed shut and later just discreetly ignore the rule as so many of our citizenry do in restaurants, banks, Church, airplanes and offices because their loud, lengthy conversations are so important thus they are above the rules. Rules are those things I often do not like, usually grudgingly obey and occasionally very, very, very discreetly and sneakily I find a way around.

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