First, more and more and more I am liking Mayor Oscar Leeser. It's not just that he defended freedom of speech which, in the context of the PSB/EPWU, was the anti-institutional thing to do, he defended it charmingly. In fact, every time that I observe him I appreciate his attempts to make sure that everyone saves face and that a consensus is reached happily more often than not. He likes people and that shows. He's obviously very, very bright but keeps the common touch. I could go on and on. Paraphrasing Roberta: My Mayor is such a good Mayor.
On the other hand, Chairman S is supercilious, condescending, dismissive of others and their opinions - well - enough said for now except to let him know that the other adults at the table are not graduate students for him to ... enough said.
The PSB needs their own attorney. Andron is the attorney for the EPWU. In fact, the EPWU really needs a huge changeover - get the Archuleta people out of there now. Hand out those gold watches.
Lisa Turner has been my hero many times at City Council. I was surprised and delighted to see her at the PSB meeting the other day. She spoke eloquently about the freedom of speech and against prior restraint of that freedom. Err in favor of transparency, she said. (It was fun to watch Chairman S turn beet red and redder.) But she made two other very important points:
When institutions forge such policies, they raise the questions: What are they hiding? What's the cover-up? Elpasonaturally has been speaking about this from the beginning. Policies such as the one that Chairman S has attempted to foist on the board is always written at a time of losing control and power. It is a means to shut up any opposing views so that policy is actually formulated behind closed doors, cotton candied, and fed to boards of people who don't think through issues well enough because they trust the institutional authorities to do their thinking for them. Ms. Turner didn't say all of this - I'm elaborating.
The other great point she brought up was one I will probably return to again and again from now on. She mentioned Attorney General Mattox's Opinion JM-1071 regarding executive sessions and freedom of speech. Read the opinion.
Here are the salient points:
"We interpret subsection 2A(h) as applying only to the records of executive sessions which governmental bodies are required to keep pursuant to section 2A of the act. It does not prohibit persons who are present at the executive session from afterwards talking about the subject matter of the session. Accordingly, we need not reach the first amendment issue."
"Members of a governmental body may not participate in a closed meeting knowing that a certified agenda is not being kept or a tape recording is not being made. Id. s 2A(g). These requirements cannot be rationally applied to speech occurring after the meeting."
"In our opinion, subsection 2A(h) bars the release of such records, and does not prevent members of the governmental body from talking about their recollections of the subject matter of the executive session."
And the summary:
"Subsection 2A(h) of article 6252-17, V.T.C.S., the Texas Open Meetings Act, applies to the certified agenda or tape recording kept as a record of an executive session. It does not prohibit members of a governmental body or other persons in attendance at an executive session from making public statements about the subject matter of that session."
Emphases mine. Victory for the freedom of speech. Take your official spokespeople and shove it in my humble opinion. One wants all the good information that the VP of Communications has to give out. Much of what the EPWU is doing is great and I value Ms. Montoya spreading the good news. But we must have balance. We forget that, when we were engaged in a debate about land to be preserved in the scenic corridor, then CEO Ed Archuleta had a PR video made that was full of disinformation about the PSB and its role as land manager. Anyone - a citizen or a board member - should fearlessly refute anything that the "officials" put out that is not true. That is a fiduciary responsiblitly. That is the moral thing to do.
Read more about executive sessions and the pertinent rules for conducting those sessions.