Bryant spars with Stricklin over council meeting schedules

The City of Glen Rose has a revamped website used to publish notices of public meetings, among other things. (Photo by Kathryn Jones)

The City of Glen Rose has a revamped website used to publish notices of public meetings, among other things.

(Photo by Kathryn Jones)

By Kathryn Jones

Editor

What started as a discussion about the posting and publication of Glen Rose City Council meetings notices ended with City Councilman Chris Bryant attacking Mayor Pro Tem Bob Stricklin over the scheduling of a meeting Bryant could not attend.

Bryant has asked that an item be placed on the council agenda to require all city council special meetings to be submitted to the local media for publication for “public awareness.”

Bryant was concerned about a past council special meeting that was posted, as required by the state, with 72 hours notice, but was not published in local newspapers.

The Glen Rose Reporter and Glen Rose News, which the council selected as this year’s city “official newspaper of record,” both currently publish on Wednesday. The Reporter plans to go to a Thursday publication schedule soon.

Bryant said he has heard citizen concerns about the “big secrecy” about council meetings that are posted at Town Hall and on the city’s website but not publicly announced in the media.

“This is a small town and people want to learn what’s going on,” Bryant said.

Councilman Dennis Moore, who is running for mayor in the May 11 city election, noted that state law requires that notices of public meetings be posted 72 hours in advance. Currently, the city posts meeting agendas in its new display case by the Town Hall front doors and on its revamped website, www.glenrosetexas.org.

The city staff usually doesn’t post regular council meeting agenda until the Friday before the second Monday of every month when the council holds it regular meeting.

Often, special meetings are called and posted 72 hours in advance, as required, but the notification is too late for the newspapers’ deadlines.

“I don’t think the council needs to be restricted to longer than 72 hours” for posting meeting notices, Moore said.

City Councilwoman Sandra Ramsay pointed out that the city now has a functional website that posts meeting notices. The marquee outside Town Hall also could post meeting dates and times, she said.

“A lot of people don’t look at the Internet,” Bryant responded.

Stricklin said it didn’t make sense to publish the agenda of every city council meeting because the items on the agenda often change up until the last minutes before the meeting.

“I can understand that if there’s time for it to be published in the paper,” Stricklin said. “If time permits and we can publish that we’re having a meeting in our official newspaper, I don’t see any problem with that,” Stricklin said.

Moore said he was still concerned that if on Wednesday the council determined that it needed to have a council meeting within 72 hours, it would still be required to publish the notice in the newspapers if Bryant’s proposal passed.

“If time permits,” Stricklin reiterated.

The council unanimously passed a motion to run the time and dates of meetings, if possible, in the local media, as well as on the city’s official website and the Town Hall marquee.

Toward the end of the meeting, Bryant’s temper flared over a planned workshop on Friday at 2 p.m. to discuss updates to the city’s personnel manual.

“It’s been scheduled to when I can’t make it,” Bryant said.

Stricklin explained he had contacted council members and the others could attend.

Bryant complained that he had to work and that meetings in the past have been set up after 5 or on weekends so that all members could attend.

Stricklin disagreed, noting that before he retired he sometimes had to make meetings during work hours.

“You build it to your schedule,” Bryant said.

Striklin told Bryant he was out of line.

Bryant kept complaining that Stricklin scheduled meetings at “your convenience” and said the meeting scheduling was “very unorganized.”

Stricklin gaveled Bryant to order and the regular session to an end before the council entered into executive session to discuss two economic development agreements.

After the meeting, several observers, who did not want to be identified, said they found Bryant’s behavior “unprofessional.”

However, mayoral candidate Eric Belanger said he thought city government should be as transparent as possible and that notification of meetings should be published first in the local newspapers to make sure as many citizens as possible were kept informed.

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