LEAGUE CITY — League City’s city council is considering doing away with the workshops typically conducted the day before regular council meetings.

In the past, the workshops have been praised by council and staff alike as a way to work through difficult topics and answer questions. But some on the council now want to do away with them, and that is not sitting well with some regular followers of the council and some council members.

“They are just kind of redundant,” Councilwoman Geri Bentley said.

Bentley and Councilman Dan Becker introduced a proposal Tuesday to direct staff to discontinue the workshops but, after much argument, the proposal was not voted on.

Bentley said she probably will bring the topic back up at the next meeting. The same questions that are asked and answered at the workshop are asked and answered at the regular meeting, she said.

When she has questions before a meeting, Bentley said, she just emails staff and gets her answers.

“It’s a waste of time and energy,” she said. “It’s a waste of staff, and it’s a waste of taxpayer money.”

But Penny Ignazio, a regular at all city council meetings and workshops, disagreed.

The council has the opportunity to talk to all the city staff, but the public typically does not, Ignazio said. At the workshops, staff members are present, answering questions and being accessible, she said.

“Give us the opportunity to come up to hear and ask questions and listen to the debates that are going on,” she said.

Councilman Dennis O’Keeffe argued it might be a violation of open meeting laws and of the council’s own policies to eliminate the workshops.

Workshops are where council members can get answers to their questions so they are prepared to act on Tuesday, he said.

Eliminating them would also be a disservice to the public, he said.

“I think that a workshop in advance of the meeting engages the public in the debate,” he said.

Members of the public can watch the debate between the council at a workshop then comment during the public comment portion of the regular city council meeting, he said.

“Eliminating workshops deprives the public of responding to a debate by addressing council at a regular meeting,” he said.

Contact reporter Christopher Smith Gonzalez at 409-683-5314 or chris.gonzalez@galvnews.com.

(3) comments

Kathy Porterfield

When she has questions before a meeting, Bentley said, she just emails staff and gets her answers. If she needs to see staff, she will just use Skype.

Kathy Porterfield

Councilman Dennis O’Keeffe said he probably will bring the topic back up at the next meeting with a "No Workshops, No Pay" provision.

Chris Mallios

Open and honest government should be what it is all about. Didn’t the council just spend thousands of Tax dollars for a way to be at a meeting through telecommunication ? I guess the rules that went along with it did not allow them the latitude they thought they would get. Are we moving forward or backward ? More importantly what REAL city problems are being taken care of by the council? Like Honest Abe said “If you want to test a man's character, give him power.”

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