Original post can be found at the ReEnergize Texas Blog
On Tuesday, students from Southwestern University’s Students for Environmental Activism and Knowledge (SEAK) had intended to speak before the Georgetown City Council regarding the 20 year energy plan for their city. They had registered an agenda item with the City Secretary’s Office, asked all the right questions about who could speak and for howlong, and everyone was in City Council chambers ahead of the meeting forms in hand and polite, thoughtful, well-reasoned remarks committed to memory.
SEAK’s charismatic President, Connor Hanrahan, went to the mic and spoke politely about hoping to form a positive “working relationship” with the city as they discussed aspects of the energy plan and in particular a provision to purchase 30% of their electricity from nuclear power plants.
“We are not here to protest nuclear,” he said, “but want to discuss new information that affects this plan.”
And then the Mayor dropped a bomb. Citing a “misunderstanding” about City Council procedures, he informed Connor and the group of students and allies he’d brought with him that they would not be allowed to speak at the meeting that evening. To his credit, Mayor Garver did make an effort at conciliation by offering Connor the opportunity to nominate 2 members of his party to speak for 3 minutes apiece, but the notion was quickly rebuked by Councilwoman Pat Berryman, a known proponent of nuclear power.
Does this sound familiar to anyone? Think Pedernales Electric Coop and CPS Energy. These two major electric utilities in Texas have been recently embroiled in controversy over failure to provide information, give the public access to speak, and making bad, even corrupt decisions from positions of power. As a result, reform candidates have been elected to the PEC Board of Directors and two of its former members face multiple felony indictments. At CPS, two executives have been placed on leave while its board investigates why the utility failed to disclose new cost estimates to the public and the San Antonio City Council.
Why would Georgetown’s Mayor and City Council tell local students they had no right to speak about the energy future of their own city? Because the rules said so? Can a member of the City Council not make a motion to suspend the rules? In fact they can, but no member of the City Council had the courage or good sense to make that motion and give their constituents the opportunity to weigh in on an issue of city governance. (more…)