Saturday, June 3, 2017

WILL CITY'S BAN ON TELEVISING PUBLIC COMMENTS END?

By Juan Montoya
Will the City of Brownsville's six year-old ban on broadcasting the public comments made during commissioners' meetings on the city's Channel 12 come to an end this Tuesday?

An item on the agenda placed for Tuesday's meeting states: "Consideration and Action regarding the guidelines for broadcasting the city's public comment period. (Commissioner B. Neece/C. De Leon)

The ban has been in effect since then after city attorney Mark Sossi convinced incoming mayor Tony Martinez that resuming broadcasting the public comments on the public's airwaves would open the city to legal liabilities. Before his election, Martinez had vowed he would move to broadcast the public comments period and end the ban that his predecessor Pat Ahumada and the city commission had approved on Sossi's advice.

As other bloggers have stated, Sossi made that determination after a public commenter noted that Sossi appeared to have used his position to farm out legal work to a firm which had won a judgment against him, a fact first addressed by local watchdog Argelia Miller in a letter to city manager Charlie Cabler in August 25, 2010.

In her letter, Miller  wrote Cabler that she was upset that Sossi appeared to be using the legal referral system to repay a $167,323 judgment to former employer, Willette & Guerra for theft of funds.

As blogger Jim Barton stated in his Brownsville Observer blog "When this obviously compounded conflict of interest was later mentioned during the Public Comment section of a subsequent City Commission meeting, Sossi had heard enough and issued the ludicrous legal opinion to Mayor Pat Ahumada and the City Commission that the continued broadcast of public comments on City of Brownsville's Channel 12 would make the city vulnerable to lawsuits."

Much to the surprise of former city commissioner Melissa Zamora, who had placed an item on the agenda to resume the broadcast of the public comment period, Martinez did not support her item saying: "I'd like to continue doing things the way the previous administration did them. It's been working pretty good so far. I don't want to change that."

Well, as they say en mi rancho, things have changed. Sossi is now a full-time city employee and his legal opinion is being challenged by two other attorneys (Neece and De Leon) with an apparently different opinion on the First Amendment. He and the mayor have been involved in decisions that have caused controversy for the city (and cot the public money) and which the public comment ban has protected them from popular criticism.

Is it time to give back the public airwaves to the people?

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

No, Too many PENDEJOS show up to yell stupidities, Juan. Llorona Lety perez-Garzoria need attention or what? Racist Dagoberto Barrera still alive? You need sophisticated people for the Public Comments to work, Brownsville doesn't have them, bro!

Anonymous said...

Is about time
Good job Neece

Anonymous said...

Keep our babosos off TV! Vote no y no y no!

Diego Lee Rot said...

If public comment gets reinstated. I'm going to volunteer to sign the comments for the hearing impaired watching at home.

Anonymous said...

We don't need to hear from dagoberto and LETY, juan! puro escrape, bro

Anonymous said...

It's not clamping down on Freedom of Expression when the expression is bullshit, juan.

Anonymous said...

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Fustrated Harlingenite said...

Sounds like Brownsville is doing the same thing that the "Establishment" headed by old man Boggus tried to do in the past? Now, public speaking is at the end of the city meetings. This to discourage anyone with a legitimate concern or complaint.

Anonymous said...

I believe public comments at a City Commission meeting should be included in any broadcast of the meetings. However, in the past there have been regulars who use the public comment period to rant wildly and ignore the time limits. Mentioned about was a comment that only "sophisticated" citizens should be allowed to talk. First you have to find a "sophisticated" citizen in Brownsville. I suggest a public comment period at the beginning of the session and those who want to speak must, like an agenda item, specifically state the issue they want to address. Then, during the open meeting of the city commission, at the end of each agenda item, allow public comments on that particular agenda item. And don't let any one person speak more than once.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you volunteer to look after your kids,you miserable idiot ?

Anonymous said...

someone at meeting could just go FACEBOOK LIVE and broadcast public comments, so vote yes or no....the solution is social media.

Anonymous said...

Why can't we be like N. Korea and just applaud to everything our leader says and does with a big ass smile?

Everyone would be so happy - Juan would for sure have nothing to "report" about.

rita