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Houston Mayor Questions Recommendation Allowing Council Members To Add Agenda Items

A committee reviewing Houston’s city charter voted unanimously to recommend giving council members more influence over the agenda. The mayor argues it can’t be done.

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The Charter Review Committee’s proposal would allow for six council members to add an item to the agenda for consideration by the full City Council. Under the current city charter, the mayor decides what gets to be discussed during the weekly council meetings.

At-large Council member Michael Kubosh said the only way for him and his colleagues to place an item on the agenda is if the mayor agrees.

“Yeah, we have to get the mayor to put it on the agenda,” Kubosh said. “We need to be able to do that even if the mayor is in opposition of it.”

Houston’s city charter gives the mayor exclusive authority to place items on the agenda of the city council.

He said that makes Houston unique among most governmental bodies.

“It doesn’t work that way in the state Legislature and most other cities,” Kubosh said. “The council controls much of the agenda and brings forth the legislation and ordinances and laws.”

The council hopes to take a vote on including that change to the city charter. It would then go to city residents for final approval this November.

But Mayor Annise Parker said, at this point, she isn’t considering putting the proposed change up for a vote. That’s because she believes council members are not allowed to meet and discuss city business privately.

Because of that, she argued, the proposed change wouldn’t work.

“In order for council members to confer at all about an item of business, it has to be publicly posted,” the mayor said.

Council members Kubosh and C.O. Bradford disagreed. They said up to eight city council members can get together and discuss what they want.

If it reaches nine, that would be a quorum and a violation of the Texas Open Meetings Act.

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Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of Real Estate Editors, and Public Radio...

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