Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Tip of an Iceberg – Use of Roving Quorums Appears to Have Been Admitted To

At the HTNA forum last week, there was something said that slipped by me at the time until another person brought it up, Laura Maczka seemingly to admit that the city council uses “Roving Quorums” to place items on the agenda for the city council.

It had to do with how items are put on the agenda. Laura Maczka said that to get an item on the agenda, it takes 4 of the 7 council members to grant their approval. This is done out of the view of the public via phone calls, emails or text messages.

Thinking about past council meetings it seem that it is very seldom agenda items are place by public votes of the city council. It is mainly done out of public view. If what Laura Maczka says is true, that in private conversations the council reaches a consensus on what to place on the agenda, then it appears to me that they are using a roving quorum in violation of the open meeting act.

A more transparent way of adding items to the agenda would probably be making the last action item of each meeting a public be vote on for or against future agenda items rather than the use of roving quorum out of the view of the public.



  1. I asked them 3 times how an ordinary citizen can get an item on the agenda. I’m sure it has to do with the city manager dictating the agenda. Did you know, reading through the city charter, the only position that requires competency is the attorney and I’d imagine that is subjective?

  2. Laura is the only candidate that offered a clever solution to this problem. She said as mayor she would have an agenda item on every agenda stating something like "discuss future agenda items". In this way, discussing future agenda items follows the open meetings protocol of posting agenda items 72 hours prior and allows for this discussion among the council members to legally take place in the open.


    No whining about not being able to get items on the agenda. A solution. Way to go, Laura!

  3. "Brilliant!" Really???

    Is this a serious comment or are you trying to be funny?

    So how does this solve the problem of citizens not being able to get an item on the council agenda?

  4. Personally, with a gola of increasing transparency & accountability, I would like to see each item on every agenda have the initials of who requested or sponsored the item. Many may well be (CS-City Staff) but at least we could maybe start to get some idea of who is doing (or not doing) what. It might help remove the veil of the b.s. Near Term Action Items list which nobody 'owns' or is accountable for whether their priorities get addressed.

  5. 5:23pm

    Why hasn't Laura done this already? Why do we have to wait for her to be Mayor to get that done?

    She made several promises 2 years ago that is still on the list.

    A politician's way of bribing for votes.

  6. A few pieces of BS here on this blog.

    Firstly. Citizens have no right under the Texas Open meetings Act to get items on a civic agenda. It's in the Texas Open Meetings Act handbook that cites case law. Look it up.

    secondly. It is not a violation of the Open Meetings Act to have a moving quorum in order to merely add an item to a later properly posted and noticed public meeting. That does not violate the standard of the Esperanza decision because the purpose is not to avoid the proper requirements of the Act but the opposite. The intention is to put the item on a public meeting notice where deliberations will happen in public before a properly posted meeting.

  7. If you have an ordinance that violates the personal freedom of a citizen and the city manager refuses to listen, the anointed mayor refuses to listen and a quorum of council members refuse to listen you no longer have a government for the citizen by the citizen. I can’t find where it says the citizen has no right to request an item be added to an agenda.

  8. TO 11:31

    It is politically incorrect to tell a citizen they have no rights to any meeting agenda item. No matter how truthful.

    Our current system is more about control and less about freedoms. You are well versed and clear on that point.

    More people all over the country are waking up to that fact. Thank you for adding to the discussion.

  9. Excellent April 9, 2013 at 9:13 PM

    What a great idea! Accountability in city government… Novel….

  10. I said citizens have no rights to add an item to a civic agenda "under the open meetings act." I say it because it is true.

    Whether you think there ought to be such a right under city ordinance, state law, or whatever is another matter. Right now there exists no such right and I know of no city that does that. Let's not pretend Richardson is somehow different in that regard and think you are being wronged.

  11. Richardson is different in that the city PROSECUTES landlords whose tenants refuse inspections and that they issue administrative warrants, but don't enforce them.

    Even when Garland was inspecting occupied homes (before it was sued), they did NOT force entry, much less, prosecute landlords.

    So why is Richardson willing to be different ONLY WHEN they want to control and punish citizens?

  12. 4:52pm - We are all clear on what you said. When it comes to government, do as I say, not as I do. For the record, I did agree with you. What do you think NO MATTER HOW TRUTHFUL means?

    Many may not agree Richardson is common to other cities. It's reputation for shady dealings travels the county. Irving comes to mind with it's shady dealings and over paid management.

  13. Brilliant 5:23?

    In spite of the long practice of vague agenda items, the statute clearly says "sufficient" information is required to be included regarding items on the agenda.

    Our "transparent" Council has been hiding details on secret deals for decades so that the people have no clue what will be discussed at the public meetings.

    Consistently, you will find nondescript phrases used to plausibly deny some obscured issue was/not on the agenda.

    This "discuss future agenda items" is an example of that same dirty business.

    The "3 or 4 Council member" requirement to get something on the agenda is a lie. It does not exist in the Charter. Slagel and Keffler instituted that to keep individual Council members from getting issues of public concern on the agenda that didn't suit their liking.

    Don't get distracted by the same rotten way things have been done for too long thinking that they're doing it proper. They ain't!

    Each Council member should be able to get any issue on the agenda. That's what we elect them to do. If they abuse the office in some manner regarding this obligation, they will be replaced. It's that simple!

    Grow up Richardson!

  14. April 10, 2013 at 6:38 PM

    You may be new to Richardson and not heard all the restrictive leadership decisions caused all the major retail to pass us by and what was here to just move away forgoing the harassment. How about the guy who wanted to put another car dealership on the west side of 75 and got so frustrated arguing with them, there is a church there that pays no taxes. His way of saying up yours. Brick Row is another economic crisis that hasn't exactly worked out either. Must be that law on unintended consequences Laura has said.

  15. So if you all are so angry with how the Council operates why don't you stand up and run for Council?

  16. 7:41 Lots of people have stood up for the right things. Lots of people have challenged the system. When the CM has had a private investigator hired to secretly pass out their slime to defame some, it is unacceptable. Several on this current Council have been shown the documents proving it and will never do anything about it. In fact for the looks of the final amount of sick pay Keffler took, it looks more like they condoned the behaviour. People have had their home burglarized. Rumors and lies will always abound to any challenger. That is the game.

    Current rumors and misprepresentations about Amir are appalling. He was one of their golden boys until he said enough.

    No one said anything about Slagel's days at TI bopping anything in a skirt and disrespecting his own wife and family. No one said anything when Murphy left his wife to shack up with another woman and got her pregnant. The key Coalition group is mean spirited, manipulating, destructive and power hungry. It's all about power and control and money.

    You must live in Wonderland instead of Richardson if you believe all levels of government are pure and have the interest of the citizens at heart.

  17. >It's reputation for shady dealings travels the county. (sic)

    Attorneys also say "Richardson Municipal Court is 'special', not in a good way. Some don't even want to take cases in Richardson because of the judge/emperor.

    >The "3 or 4 Council member" requirement to get something on the agenda is a lie. It does not exist in the Charter.

    Shocking to find that it's not in the Charter. We were told that was the rule by another council member.

  18. Regarding the answer to Question #12, Mr. Dunn discusses the UNSPECIFIC number of "violations" found at inspected rentals. How many of nailed-down windows were found?

    If they're using the number of violations to measure the effectiveness of the program, inspectors can come up with anything, including an unpainted former doggy door.

    Garland measures the success of their program based on the REDUCTION (specific number) of overall violations, including owner-occupied homes. (Their program has won several awards).

    Also, Mr. Mitchell says, "With that said, like any city initiative, we need to evaluate it on a yearly basis to ensure that it is meeting our set goals of health and safety."

    He said that during a work session, too. When was the annual evaluation done after the ordinance update? We asked the council to place the item on the agenda in January . He didn't agree to that. Enough talk. We want to see the walk.

  19. Mr. Mitchell is well known for speaking for both sides of an issue, however it's unlikely he will ever "walk the walk". One cannot walk in two directions at the same time.

  20. Whoever thinks windows nailed shut is an issue needs to have their head nailed to the coffee table. How stupid can a person be! Where is the outrage over the inability to open office windows?