Speaking as someone who supports “transparency and open government,” I agree 100% with your opinion on said topics. If you were a resident of San Benito and subscribed to the SBNews, you would have read multiple Op-Eds I have written on this topic.
It was a result of my & another citizen’s (Benny Cortez) efforts and prodding of the City Commission that an Ethics Ordinance was finally adopted after many years of tabling the item for more review/study.
I am the San Benito resident the VMS reporter quoted as having communicated with the City Commission via text while it was in open session. The reporter failed to mention the reason for my text communication.
My text communication, which occurred years ago, was to inform the presiding officer that the CC had not taken “action” on an agenda item that had been discussed but did not “act or vote” on it.
The item was brought back on the table and was voted on. No harm; no foul. There was no malicious or nefarious act behind it.
There was no deliberation involved.
I approached it this manner because, other than the Public Comments section, involvement by citizens while the CC is in open session is not permitted by the CC.
You would have to be from the city of San Benito to know that this act by the SB CC was nothing more than a “local politics petty act with a feel good vote.”
It could have been very easily handled by revising the Ethics Code, ordinance, resolution, etc. where it would have enforceability powers to it.
As I stated before, this act has no teeth to it. Some cities even provide laptops at each of the Commission member’s spot on the dais so the CC members can use if need be. Will the City take those away also?
This petty act was taken not because officials were having deliberations out of the public view or domain; it was taken (by the majority of the CC present) because some unnamed citizens were complaining that the City Commission was not listening to them. That is a universal complaint and not just in San Benito.
Who the SB CC needs to start listening to is their investment and financial advisors. That topic is for a future OP ED.
While I agree 100% with Transparency and Open Government, I disagree with trying to paint this action by the SB CC as an action to stop public official’s deliberation outside of an open session. I am also not naïve to say it does not happen; especially in small town local politics.
Joe F. Rodriguez, San Benito