Agenda documents unavailable prior to meeting
by Walker County News Today staff
At Monday afternoon’s special session of Commissioner’s Court, a presentation by Secure Networkers outlined possible options to internet issues troubling county offices in several locations. According to Pct 2 Commissioner Ronnie White, there have long been internet connectivity issues in the Precinct 2 Road & Bridge office and the Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace office. In the combined Precinct 3 JP/Road and Bridge location, White advised that connectivity is less of an issue, but says that internet speeds at that location are extremely slow. While much of the presentation centered on technical aspects of possible solutions, commissioners anticipate receiving a proposal that will outline proposed improvements and costs.
Commissioners voted 4-0 to approve a number of changes to county policy regarding right-of-way costs paid by Walker County. Precinct 3 Commissioner Bill Daugette was not in attendance.
Unanimous approval was given to a proposal by Butch Davis to expand the list of pre-approved organizations that will be allowed to use the Storm Shelter at no charge without having to obtain Court approval for each use. Organizations not on the list will still have to obtain approval from Commissioners’ Court.
It’s an Insider’s Club
None of the documents voted on were available for review on the county’s website prior to the meeting. Copies of the documents voted on were not available for review at the meeting.
While the agenda itself is publicly posted, the financial reports, the proposed changes to county policies, and other documents appear to be available only to county staffers and to members of the court prior to the meeting.
When we sent an email requesting document copies prior to the meeting, we received the following response: “If you would like to review any Commissioners Court backup, please come to Judge Pierce’s office after 1:00 p.m. to review.”
That’s right. If you want to know what your commissioner will vote on you have less than 30 minutes to:
- Locate the Judge’s office in the courthouse;
- Request the documents from a staffer;
- Wait for the staffer to locate and produce paper copies of the documents;
- Read, research, and ask questions about the documents;
- Locate your commissioner and ask question or obtain additional information;
- Get to the Commissioners’ Courtroom before the 1:30 meeting start time so that you can register to give “citizen input” as listed on the agenda.
It would seem impossible that most members of the public or media would have time to do any meaningful review or research of those documents in the few minutes allowed. By refusing to make the agenda documents available in advance, either on their website or via email, Commissioners’ Court has assured that few, if any, citizens had any idea what their elected county commissioners were voting on.