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County leaders revisit issue of public comments
by Joe Baker
Jan 10, 2014 | 35 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
KARNES CITY – The issue of public comments at Karnes County Commissioners Court meetings returned during a recent meeting of the court after local officials became aware that public comments were not included on the agenda for the Dec. 17 meeting.

About six months ago, local residents complained about County Judge Barbara Shaw’s decision to move public comments from the the beginning to the end of the agendas.

Shaw said she made the change in an effort to help move county business forward more quickly.

After extended discussion and hearing from members of the community on the issue during the Aug. 13, 2013 meeting, County Commissioner James Rosales made a motion to return public comments to the beginning of the agendas. The court voted in favor of his motion.

It was Rosales, who again brought the issue up for discussion during the Dec. 17 meeting, pointing out that public comments had not been included as an agenda item for the meeting.

Rosales asked County Attorney Herb Hancock if the court could recognize people who wanted to make comments, even though there wasn’t a public comments item on the agenda.

Shaw said doing so would be a violation of the open meetings act.

“It’s not on here but it should have been on here,” Rosales said referring to public comments agenda items identified under the title of “Citizens to be Heard.”

“Are we violating the Open Meeting Act, like the judge just said?” Rosales asked.

“Can we do it at the beginning like we always do it?” Hancock asked.

“I don’t think (County Judge Office Secretary) Sylvia (Cortez) left it off intentionally,” Shaw said.

Rosales asked Hancock if the court could recognize anyone who wished to speak on agenda items as each agenda item was considered throughout the meeting.

“If you want to do it, then do it that way,” Hancock responded.

“They need to send that in,” Shaw said, in regards to agenda items placed by county commissioners. “I will only take agenda items from now on with original signatures from the commissioners. Because all this just coming in, faxing it in, leaving it here and throwing it under the door... I don’t like it. Sylvia gets blamed for it and I am not doing it now. From now on, original agenda items need to come signed by a commissioner, and they need to be here and they have to have an original signature.”

Rosales told the audience that the court would recognize any public comments as the agenda items came up throughout the meeting.
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