Shut up, the Alpine City Council said

Alpine City Council considers changing rules to muzzle citizens' input

Bryon Garrison

The Alpine City Council considered a proposal to amend the rules for how the council meetings are conducted in order to limit input from citizens. A proposal that will further limit participation was moving city council meetings to 5pm.

The proposed changed would restrict the number of citizens comments to a maximum of 8 speakers per agenda item and limit the time allowed to speak to 2 minutes per person. Currently, citizens may speak before each item on the agenda. The council is seeking a change that would restrict discussion to one time. Citizens would also be required to sign up prior to the meeting in order to speak on the issues.

After the reading of the ordinance, citizens arose to ask why the city council was seeking to limit citizen input. Big Bend Courier reporter commented that if all the members of the local media signed up to speak on each issue, this would leave only 3 slots for citizens to express their opinions.

The City Council approved the first reading of the ordinance. Councilman Rick Stevens asked that citizens comments be taken into consideration before the second reading of the ordinance. Councilman Jim Fitzgerald commented that he believed that such an order would help the council meetings run more smoothly. The city attorney also commented that she had never seen a city council meeting in other municipalities where citizens are allowed to speak before every issue.

Mayor Rangra commented that just because other municipalities run their meetings a certain way, does not mean that Alpine must follow suit. There will be a second reading of the ordinance that will take into consideration suggestions by the council and citizens.

Editor's nite: While Alpine's city government has allowed liberal citizen comment and restrictions would allow for shorter meetings, is less daylight really a smart option in the middle of a FBI investigation and power struggle? Hardly a proper thank you to the citizens that came out to speak for reform last Tuesday.

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