The Amarillo Pioneer

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'There Needs to be Punishment': City Council Talks Meeting Policies

After a controversial week for the Amarillo City Council, Councilmembers discussed policies relating to the body's regularly scheduled meetings this week.

On Tuesday, the Amarillo City Council met in a work session to discuss the Council's Code of Conduct relating to behavior by elected officials and citizens in public meetings. Mayor Ginger Nelson addressed the elephant in the room regarding the Council's decision to have Kip Billups escorted from the body's meeting last Tuesday after clapping. Billups was later arrested.

Nelson asked for feedback from Councilmembers during the meeting on her enforcement of the rules during last week's meeting and what should be done in the future. Councilmember Eddy Sauer was one of the first to weigh in and said that he supported Nelson's decision, comparing it to the interactions he has with his daughters.

"It's like if I told my girls, 'I'm going to count to five and if you don't do this, there will be consequences,'" Sauer said. "And I give them a really long count and they don't do it. In that case, there needs to be punishment."

Councilmember Freda Powell and Councilmember Howard Smith both also affirmed their support for Nelson's conduct during last week's meeting, with Powell going on to say that she believes that the enforcement of the policy is important for the City Council.

"It's important to enforce any rules and policies we have," Powell said.

Councilmembers also agreed with Mayor Nelson's statement that she would experiment with the Code of Conduct and her authority as a presiding officer in the coming weeks. Councilmember Smith did state, however, that he would disagree with Mayor Nelson on any policy to shut down public comment.

"One idea I heard is stopping [public comment in the case of a disruption]," Smith said. "I would be against that because I still want to hear people."

The Amarillo City Council will meet for a regular meeting next Tuesday.

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