Wichita Falls City Leaders are speaking out more about the decision to make a couple of changes to their public comment time at council meetings.
Kenzie Meek-Beck found out more reasons behind the changes on a part of the meeting that may have more people complaining about the change than ever showed up to participate.
As we told you the amount of time for public comment was shortened by 2 minutes and moved to the end of the meeting.
So now how do other councilors and residents feel about the change?
Emily Brock is deaf and has thought about going to more city council meetings to be a pro-active citizen but worries she won’t get different topics relayed to her.
“I would go to the meetings more often if someone can type on my laptop so I can know what others are saying.” Emily Brock Wichita Falls Resident
Brock has also considered speaking during the public comment of the meeting but says she’s concerned about the recent changes, from the beginning of the meeting to now after all agenda items have been discussed and a 5 minute time limit was changed to 3.
Mayor Stephen Santellana says while they can try to make accommodations for citizens, They aren’t trying to limit speech.
“For me…. a big part of it was here lately we’ve had so many school aged kids coming through, we had Notre Dame, Christ Academy kids they all come to visit the chambers, field trip day or government day and they sit there and a lot of times they have to listen to an irate citizen which is fine but I don’t think it serves any purpose for a school aged kid.” Stephen Santellana Wichita Falls Mayor
Councilor Jesse Brown says it didn’t serve a good purpose at the beginning of the meeting either.
“And they would just storm out and not even stay to listen to the meeting so that would put a bad taste in our consultant’s views of the city and our business partners views of the city and then the school-age children.” Jesse Brown District 4 Councilor
Regardless District 1 Councilor, Eric West says they want to make sure citizens still have the ability to address the council.
“I think the people, the taxpayers need a chance to get up there and speak if they have a concern and a lot of times we get very legitimate concerns that need to be said and actions happen because of that.” Eric West District 1 Councilor
The Mayor went on to tell me it’s hard for him to accept that people think they are trying to limit speech. If anything he says the council is encouraging people to come out and speak to them and feels this group has been very active in the community.
Also, while the time may have been moved, And the time limit reduced it is not a legal requirement to have a public comment in Texas City Council Meetings.