For the second month in a row, the City of Simonton did not post their “regular” monthly meeting agenda for the meeting that the public had expected to be held on Tuesday, December 20, 2022. Consequently, it appears that, once again, the City Council will not hold a regular business meeting.
Background: The meeting that the City held on November 1, 2022 (see video), (see agenda) was a “do over” of the October 18th meeting (see video), (see agenda), which had been held illegally without a quorum present in the room. In order to avoid legal consequences, the Mayor re-called the meeting on November 1st and simply repeated the actions taken on October 18th. The agenda for the meeting was literally a carbon-copy of the October 18th meeting and had absolutely no “new” November business items.
Update 12-19-2022: After the original posting of this article and apparently for the first time, the city has posted on their facebook page a graphic stating that says “City Council will not be meeting this month! See you in January!”. It is important to note that this is not an “official” notice as it was not posted in 72 hours in advance of the cancelled meeting at City Hall or on the City’s official website.
No cancellation notice was provided either on the City Hall bulletin board or on the city website.
The question that the community should be asking – loudly – is WHY IS THE CITY NOT HOLDING MEETINGS? The city operates under a resolution whereby they have publicly adopted and established “Regular” meeting dates. One such date is the first Tuesday of each month (often disregarded and only used for “extra” meetings if needed) and the other is the third Tuesday of each month (always used for the primary monthly meeting).
The two formally adopted meeting dates provide ample opportunity for the City Council members to plan for their attendance and thereby for the city to publicly conduct City business without difficulty with council members’ attendance.
Cities are required by statute to adopt a meeting schedule and hold public meetings. In fact, members that don’t show up are to be fined $3 for each absence that is not related to their own illness or the illness of a family member.
Don’t believe me?
“Sec. 22.038. MEETINGS. (a) The governing body of the municipality shall meet at the time and place determined by a resolution adopted by the governing body.
(b) The mayor may call a special meeting on the mayor’s own motion and shall call a special meeting on the application of three aldermen. Each member of the governing body, the secretary, and the municipal attorney must be notified of the special meeting. The notice may be given personally or left at the person’s usual place of residence.
(c) The governing body shall determine the rules of its proceedings and may compel the attendance of absent members and punish them for disorderly conduct.
(d) An alderman shall be fined $3 for each meeting that the alderman fails to attend unless the absence is caused by the alderman’s illness or the illness of a family member.“
If the city’s inability to hold meetings relates in any way to the failure of City Council Members to adjust their personal schedules in order to be available to physically attend public meetings, perhaps those members should resign and allow other, more dedicated citizens to take their places.
Where is the City’s Official Notice of Cancellation?
Further, when a regular meeting date is to be missed, it is proper and considerate to post a public “Notice of Meeting Cancellation” in the place of the agenda to alert the public of the meeting cancellation.
Why should the City post a Notice of a City Council Meeting Cancellation?
Because the public has a right to expect and to anticipate that regularly-scheduled City Council meetings will be held according to the city’s adopted regular City Council meeting schedule.
If a regularly-scheduled City Council meeting is not going to be held, the public should have the opportunity to learn of the cancellation “officially” from the City itself.
By the way, on occasion, when a city knows in advance that they will skip a meeting, they actually consider it on the agenda of the meeting held prior to the regular meeting date of the meeting that is to be intentionally cancelled.
In Simonton’s case, for each of the recently cancelled meetings, this did not occur – like I said, for the 2nd month in a row.
So, to clarify things, here’s the bottom line. Without notice of any kind, the City Council failed to hold a regular meeting in the month of November, 2022 and now has apparently continued that practice for December, 2022.
For the record. since city meetings must be posted 72 hours in advance of a meeting, the latest time a meeting could have been posted for the regular December meeting date would have been 6:30 pm on Saturday, December 17, 2022. I physically went to Simonton City Hall Saturday, December 17th 2022 at 6:40 PM and no notice was posted – and I have photographic proof.
Clearly, City Hall has been open and operating and business is apparently being transacted behind City Hall’s security doors. The question is: When will our City Council meet and take care of business publicly?