Residents will now only be able to address agenda items during public comment at Missouri City City Council meetings.

What happened?

During a second reading of an ordinance to limit public comments on subjects not related to the agenda to 1 1/2 minutes, Missouri City City Council voted 4-2 at the July 1 meeting to eliminate all comments that do not relate to agenda items for future meetings.

State law requires council to provide three minutes for each resident who would like to speak on items listed on the agenda, although the city is not required to allow speakers on other items, City Attorney E. Joyce Iyamu said at the June 17 meeting.

The first reading of the ordinance was approved at a June 17 meeting, where City Council saw a 4-2 split vote for a 1 1/2-minute speaking time for nonagenda-related items.

Council member Jeffrey Boney and Mayor Robin Elackatt voted against the measure during the first reading, while Boney and council member Monica Riley voted against the motion at the second reading.

What they’re saying

Though she made the motion to allow only agenda-related public comments, council member Sonya Brown-Marshall said it was hard to make the motion.

“We just don’t have a way to defend ourselves and some of the comments that end up coming for us. Oftentimes, it’s not always accurate information,” she said. “I do want to encourage citizens—I am approachable, I am reachable. ... It is important to me that right information is placed into the public, and in a setting that is correct and accurate.”

To continue to make council members accessible, Mayor Pro Tem Lynn Clouser said she would work with the city attorney and city secretary to ensure the public can contact council members with their concerns.

“I do want to echo that we are not, as the narrative is [saying] we are, trying to silence; we are definitely not doing that,” she said. “I believe all of my colleagues, all of us, are accessible, and when you email us, call us, we reply, and we will continue to do that.”

Voting against the motion to quash additional public comment, Boney said he wants to ensure residents still feel welcome to share their opinions at meetings.

“We are elected by you, the citizens, and whether you access by way of email or phone call, you should have access to us even at these public meetings,” he said. “I just want to encourage you to keep coming and keep letting your voices be heard.”

Also on the agenda

City Council also approved the second reading of an ordinance at the July 1 meeting to add clarification to the existing noise ordinance, including:
  • Outlining factors for police officers to consider when investigating noise complaints
  • Adding time outlines for noise minimums
  • Defining sleeping facilities
The first reading of the ordinance was approved at a June 17 meeting. City Council will also discuss establishing a fine or citation for excessive false noise complaints at a later date.