Municipal government fascinates me. Over the years I’ve attended a lot of city council meetings in Texas, Georgia and Florida (although they were called city commission meetings in Fort Lauderdale). I’ve seen meetings last three minutes and I’ve seen them go until 3 a.m.
I won a statewide journalism award for a story I did when the College Station City Council violated the Texas Open Meetings Act and was hauled before a judge and threatened with jail time. I also saw a news story last week from another former stompin’ ground, Huntsville, where a city councilman was censured for his aggressive behavior toward the city manager.
The Sealy City Council falls somewhere in the middle of a polite and respectful bunch and a three-ring circus.
While I think it’s pretty obvious that some members of the council don’t particularly like each other, I’d like to believe that each elected official has the best interests of the public at heart. Why else would you sacrifice hours of your time every other week to get yelled at and debate over sexy topics like sewage and frontage roads?
The Sealy mayor earns $450 per month, and council members make $275 a month, which sounds like a nice chunk of change but probably amounts to pennies per hour when you do the math. By the way, these folks all have “real jobs” and families, and I am amazed at the time these folks put into doing their homework so they can make good decisions and represent the interests of their constituents.
However, the little digs and obvious frustration among elected officials isn’t lost on me – or the people in the audience who elected them. From where I sit, it looks messy.
Settle your differences privately. If you have a problem with someone, pick up the phone and address it. And while that goes for the elected council members, it goes for the public too.
A city council meeting is not a free-for-all to vent about nonsense. If a member of the public is entirely off topic or running way over their allotted time to address the council, they should expect to be cut off.
These meetings should be running efficiently, and important decisions should not be made late at night when most of the people whose lives and pocketbooks will be affected have gone to bed for the night.
April Towery is the managing editor of The Sealy News. She can be reached at 979-885-3562 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.