Thursday, September 17, 2015

BCIC: When Is An Open Meeting Not Really Open?

BCIC Director Rebeca Castillo
Yes, we were spoiled by previous BCIC Director Rachel Flores.  She would issue us an info packet with numbered tabs guiding us to resources behind each agenda item.  Board member Jude Benavides would always make certain we could hear the interchange between commission members, critical to understand what's going on.

The Texas Open Meetings Act guidelines insure that the government business is discussed in the "open," not behind closed doors.  Provisions for access by the disabled, rules about audiovisual participation, phone connections, etc. insure access to the decision-making process.

Today was our first visit to the BCIC under its new Director, Rebeca Castillo.  Yes, the meeting was open, in the sense that we were not barred at the door.   But, it was almost impossible to fathom or even hear what was being discussed.  We had no information packet, only the agenda we'd downloaded from the BCIC website. The board sat around circle of tables, facing each other, projecting speech barely audible to other board members, not sufficient for anyone in the audience.  Yes, frustration and nearly a waste of 2-1/2 hours.

Brownsville's boards vary on this aspect of openness.  Daniel Lenz, former Chairman of the Brownsville Metro Advisory Board, always made certain we had documents that would otherwise be available through the Public Information Act.  Manuel Alcero of the Airport Advisory Board cordially welcomes guests and opens the meeting up to their questions.  Mark Lund of the Metropolitan Planning Organization does similarly.  That type of openness allows you to get accurate information, the complete story.  

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