The citizens of Rockport and Pflugerville should be up in arms over a suit their city councils have filed in an effort to take the teeth out of the Texas Open Meetings Act.
For that matter, the citizens of Port Aransas and every other city in Texas should be up in arms as well.
Rockport and Pflugerville (just north of Austin) city councils want to eliminate criminal penalties – jail time – for violations of the act.
That says they either have violated the act or have intentions of doing so. Otherwise, not even the death penalty should concern them.
Those city councils are saying the act violates their first amendment rights to freedom of speech, yet the first amendment does not offer anyone, much less elected officials, protection from backroom bargaining.
The Texas Open Meetings Act does not stand in the way of individual elected officials’ right to express their opinions. It does stand in the way of a quorum of those elected officials getting together to discuss public business in private without due public notice and for purposes not deemed appropriate.
Without “teeth,” the Open Meetings Act might as well not exist. Without consequences, elected officials would have little incentive not to violate the public trust.
That is not in the best interests of the people of the State of Texas.
The citizens of Texas should stand up for their right to know how their elected officials are conducting public business, spending their tax dollars and determining the futures of their communities.
The citizens of Texas should stand against any weakening of the Texas Open Meetings Act that protects them from abuse of power by elected offi- cials who have no fear of conducting public business behind closed doors.
Elected officials in Rockport and Pfugerville appear to have forgotten that these United States are operated by a government of the people, by the people and for the people, and that in Texas, our right to that government being conducted in the open is guaranteed by the Open Meetings Act.
Come election time, the citizens of Rockport and Pflugerville, and other cities that join this lawsuit, should stand up against elected officials who attempt to circumvent the public’s right to know.