Do you want answers on problems at City Hall? Ask Jared Miller.
On Tuesday night, one Amarillo resident went to the podium during the Amarillo City Council meeting's public comment period to demand answers on issues at Animal Management & Welfare. This resident stated that while she understood that the City Council could not address issues not listed on the meeting's agenda, due to the Texas Open Meetings Act, city manager Jared Miller could still answer the questions.
This is an excellent point for those looking for answers.
The City Council has effectively used the Open Meetings Act as a shield in many ways, but has shown little respect for the law, possibly violating key provisions at certain times. For example, Mayor Ginger Nelson told residents to stop recording a City Council meeting earlier this year, which was likely a violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act. Soon after, a resident was arrested for clapping in a meeting, which has sparked debate on whether the enforcement of the City Council's unwritten "clapping ban" violated the Open Meetings Act.
I did not hear Mr. Miller respond to the resident during Tuesday's meeting, but I may have misheard. At any rate, Miller has an obligation to work with residents, as his salary is paid by tax dollars. However, it is unfortunate that Miller only seems to show up in front of the public during some type of controversy. Otherwise, the city manager is a difficult person to find.
Before Miller came to Amarillo, he was the city manager for San Marcos, Texas. Take a look at this excerpt from his letter to citizens in San Marcos' community newsletter in January/February 2014.
"My door is always open to you," Miller wrote. "I look forward to working with you, succeeding with you and getting to know you all."
I will let you decide: has this been Miller's policy while in Amarillo?
Every government official has a duty to interact and respond to their constituents. However, if our elected officials won't do their job, it's time to go to the next guy in line. Someone should give the citizens the answers they deserve on serious City issues. If they don't, it might be time to clean house...again.