City Urged to Update 'Citizens to be Heard' Portion of Council Meetings

One of the most freewheeling parts of the regular Thursday San Antonio City Council meeting is the portion called 'Citizens to be Heard.' 

 News Radio 1200 WOAI says it allows anybody to talk about essentially anything, and frequently attracts some colorful characters.

But Councilwoman Ana Sandoval wants to tighten up on the Citizens to be Heart portion of Council, to make it a little less colorful and a lot more useful.

In a memorandum, Sandoval requests Council to review the format of 'Citizens to be Heard,' to make the portion more 'meaningful, inclusive and transparent.'

"Engaged citizens are fundamental to the health of City government," Sandoval said.  "The successful development of policy and implementation of City programs depend on meaningful civic engagement, which also engenders trust between our City and our public institutions."

Sandoval says the City needs to come up with ways to encourage more people, and not just the handful of 'regulars,' to speak to City Council. She also wants to make sure the participation is more inclusive, and she says when citizens speak up, they should be informed of the impact their comments are having on the public debate.

Sandoval says her proposals go to the City's goal of 'equity and inclusiveness' by encouraging more people to speak out at Citizens to be Heard, by removing 'language and physical barriers to participation.

'She says it is also important to encourage 'geographic and demographic diversity' in the Citizens to be Heard process.

For years, people have expressed frustration that when they speak during the Citizens to be Heard part of the meeting, Council members are on the phone or even walk out of the chamber, clearly uninterested in their comments. Other times, 'regulars' simply insult the Council members.

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