El Paso's city council continues to wrangle with how to deal with
electronic devices and open meeting laws, with some city reps questioning the guidelines or even expressing outright defiance.
"Just fair warning, I'm going to have a personal device up here," said District 8 City Rep. Cortney Niland. "If you want to kick me out, you can kick me out. You want to recall me, you can recall me. If you want me to do whatever you want me to do, I'll do it. But I'm not going to do it for my kids. Not for you all. Never. I'll step down before I do that. So I have a personal device up here. And I'm going to keep it."
She wasn't the only city rep questioning council's policy, coming up for discussion and a vote again this past week.
"The problem I have with that is that a lot of people who can't come to the meeting are unable to voice their opinion or express something," said Distict 2 City Rep. Jim Tolbert.
The recurring issue centers around the possession and use of personal electronic devices by council members during meetings. There have been instances of city reps effectively conferencing with people in the audience during meetings without having those comments known or on the public record. City staff have warned that could violate open meetings laws, and recommend the policy be kept.
"The rule of order that you all have set for yourselves," City Attorney Sylvia Borunda Firth said. "And you are in fact self policing how you will do - enforce your own personal rules."
"So if I want to have a personal device up here," Niland said. "I can do it, and then they can decide if they want to kick me out."
"I guess that would be correct," Firth said.
Council voted down changing the policy, but Niland at least vows to keep her phone handy while on the dias, stating a concern for her family as primary caregiver.