The Amarillo Pioneer

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City Council Criticized For Possible Open Meetings Violation

Members of the Amarillo City Council are being criticized for a possible violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act.

Following the conclusion of Tuesday night's meeting of the Amarillo City Council, Councilmembers Eddy Sauer, Freda Powell and Elaine Hays carried on a conversation that was caught on camera by local news crews. Some in Amarillo are now criticizing the Council, saying that since the conversation was not posted on an official agenda for the meeting, the three Council members broke state law.

Resident James Schenck, who posted to Facebook about the possible violation, said that the actions by the Council show a disregard for the law.

"This is twice now for this Council," Schenck said in his post. "Call it petty if you want. I call it breaking the rules."

According to the Texas Open Meetings Act, all gatherings of a quorum of the legislative body (three in the case of the City Council) must be posted at least 72 hours prior to the gathering. Members of the body must follow the agenda posted and are not allowed to make actions that are not posted.

In certain cases, members of the body are not required to follow an agenda and may speak about issues without making actions, only if the meeting was posted ahead of time.

According to the agenda posted for Tuesday's meeting, there was no indication that any discussions incidental to issues not posted for the agenda would be held. However, it is unclear whether the three council members broke the Open Meetings Act during their discussion.

This is the second case of a possible Open Meetings Act violation by members of the Amarillo City Council, since the Council took office. In May, Councilmembers Eddy Sauer, Howard Smith and Freda Powell all attended a meeting that was not posted. Councilmembers completed the required Open Meetings Act training later in the summer.

Photos by Elaine Hays Campaign, KFDA, Eddy Sauer Campaign

Photos by Elaine Hays Campaign, KFDA, Eddy Sauer Campaign

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