I have declined membership in the Galveston Long Term Recovery Committee Communications Committee, which is chaired by Galveston County Daily News Publisher Dolph Tillotson. Dolph is chairing the subcommittee at the request of Betty Massey, who was appointed by Galveston City Council to head the full GLTRC, and had asked me to participate.
The first meeting of the subcommittee was scheduled for 10 a.m. today in Tillotson's office at the Daily News. I noticed that the meeting had not been posted on the Bulletin Board at City Hall, and thus should not be held. It later occurred to me that the meeting was being held away from City Hall, without the permission of the city council, also a violation of City policy.
On Thursday, I exchanged emails with Tillotson:
Friday's meeting of your LTRC Communications Committee is not posted at City Hall.
It has been my understanding throughout the years that subcommittees of city council appointed boards and committees are not legally required to post agendas 72 hours in advance, but it has been City policy that subcommittees adhere to the Open Meetings Act anyway.
You might want to check with Susie Green.
Jim, I agree. Meetings should be posted. I'll ask Alicia Cahill, who's on the committee, to handle that chore in the future. Even if not technically required by law, we'll do this. My mistake.
However, I want to go ahead with the meeting set for tomorrow.
This morning I notified Tillotson that I would decline to participate on the committee:
After due consideration, I must decline to be a member of your Communications Committee.
I have declined membership on city council appointed committees since establishing Guidry News Service in 1996 for reasons that I am sure you understand.
In addition, I am concerned that this particular committee is operating in violation of City policy. In addition to the meeting not being properly posted, it is being held away from City Hall without the city council’s approval.
As you and I discussed briefly Monday evening, the size of the committee is already unwieldy, with a membership that keeps growing. I suspect that the number of subcommittees also will be inordinately large and fluid; and the process will be difficult to cover, even from the outside looking in.
Thank you for including me in your original list of members. We will be pleased to publish any public information that is generated from the Communications Committee.
In the final response in this series, Tillotson offered to postpone the meeting until it is properly posted, but stressed the importance of the committee's mission:
First, you’ll be missed.
Second, as I told you yesterday, we fully intend to follow the law and be as open as humanly possible. If delaying our first meeting for timely notice would make you feel better, I’m willing to do that. Please advise.
Third, thanks for your offer to publish material related to the committee’s activities.
Fourth, I’ve always avoided city council appointments myself, but in this case our community faces a dire emergency. I think media people have a responsibility to make a contribution to the recovery process beyond just doing the jobs we get paid to do.
If you would like to reconsider your decision, I’d be glad to welcome you back to the committee.
Early this afternoon, Guidry News Service received another email from Tillotson, with a new agenda for a meeting of the Long Term Recovery Communications Work Group for a meeting at 10 a.m. on Tuesday in City Hall Room 204.
The remaining members of the group in addition to Tillotson are Jim Cordell, Lee Roane of Galveston.com, Heidi Lutz of UTMB (Correct), Gina Spagnola of the Galveston Chamber of Commerce, Greg Mefford of the GCDN, Alicia Cahill of the City of Galveston and Claire Reiswerg.