The Amarillo Pioneer

Amarillo's only free online newspaper. Established in 2016, we work to bring you local news that is unbiased and honest.


Open Records Request: City Council Did Not Discuss Open Meetings Act Prior to Violating Law

According to the response from the City of Amarillo to a Texas Open Records request, the City Council and City Attorney did not discuss the Texas Open Meetings Act following the Council taking office.

The response from the City Secretary's office to a request submitted by The Amarillo Pioneer shows that the City Council did not discuss the Open Meetings Act following taking office until an incident took place in which three members of the Council may have violated the law. Results from the Open Records request shows that no City Councilmember had any written interaction with other councilmembers or with City Attorney William McKamie regarding the Open Meetings law.

Following an incident in May in which Councilmembers Freda Powell, Eddy Sauer and Howard Smith all appeared at an unposted meeting, the City Manager's office scheduled an orientation regarding the act. It is typical for the City to provide Open Meetings training information to new board members immediately after being appointed or taking office, however.

City Manager Jared Miller did not return our requests for comment. The City Manager also did not return our request for information regarding Open Meetings training completion by any of the current members of the Amarillo City Council.

Texas law requires the public officials complete Texas Open Meetings training no more than 90 days after taking office. Previous Open Meetings training for boards will suffice for members of other boards.

Mayor Ginger Nelson served on the AEDC beginning in the early 2010's, Councilwoman Freda Powell was appointed to the Amarillo Airport Advisory Board of Directors by the City Council in late in 2016, and Councilmember Howard Smith has served on various municipal boards beginning in the 1990's, meaning that each of the Councilmembers should have completed training over the law.

A former City Council candidate also confirmed that Councilmember Eddy Sauer was present for a rundown of the law with former City Manager Terry Childers in the summer of 2016, when he was a candidate to replace Brian J. Eades on the City Council.

The new City Council took office on May 23, 2017.

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