As they should, many in attendance rejected this usurpation of their rights. As a result, John Bush was banned from City Hall for a year. Bush and the Clay DaFoe are threatening to press criminal and civil charges against the mayor, in his official and personal capacities.
Unacceptable Convolusion of City Code
Mayor and Council:
I write today in response to the violation of rights that occurred yesterday (8/25/11) during the Council meeting.
Per the Austin Code of Ordinances, the mayor MAY NOT limit the number of items a person may speak on during a Council meeting, with one exception:
“If one or more people have registered to speak on an item that could otherwise be approved by consent of the council, *the presiding officer may ask* if reading the registration card into the record and approving the item on consent is an acceptable alternative to a presentation by the registered speakers.”
The City’s legal department has given bad advice as this exception STILL puts the decision of whether or not to speak in the hands of the speaker.
When speaking to someone from the legal department yesterday I learned that they are “interpreting” section 2-5-25-D as a restriction of the number of items a person may speak on during a meeting. THIS IS CLEARLY NOT WHAT THE PROVISION SAYS!
“D) A person, other than a council member, may not participate in removing more than three items from the consent agenda for a single council meeting.”
This statement is ONLY relating to the pulling of an item from consent, and has nothing to do with a persons ability to speak on an item which has been pulled from consent.
*Two or more people signing up for an item on the consent agenda removes it, opening it up for discussion. What the above provision does is prevent an individual from being one of the two people who are responsible for pulling the item. So that two people cannot come in and sign up for every item, pulling it from consent. This is a reasonable clause, but has NOTHING to do with a person’s ability to speak on an unlimited number of non-consent items.
This, at best, is a misinterpretation that has resulted in the violation of at least two Austin residents’ rights!
What I believe to be happening here: Mayor Leffingwell, and possibly others on the Austin City Council, are tired of having citizens, Clay Dafoe in particular, weighing in on the extensive list of expenditures considered by Council.
This violation is UNACCEPTABLE and will not be tolerated by the people of Austin. I caution the Council in continuing the implementation of this new, unlawful rule which limits a speaker to three items that have been pulled as a result of at least two other citizens signed up to speak on it.
There are already two potential plaintiffs for a civil suit, we don’t want there to be anymore.
Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this very serious matter. Please use your own intellect to read and understand the code. The legal department has messed up on this one, and it is you who is responsible for the consequences.
Thank you for your service,
Texans for Accountable Government
*If between now and the next Council meeting any of you would like to meet and discuss the matter, I am happy to do so.