The Field Review - Local

Is this Censorship by the City of Kyle Counsel?

City of Kyle – Citizen Comment – 4/6/21

Mayor Mitchell attempts to limit a public comment by a citizen. In doing such, Mayor Mitchell cited a potential perception of a personal attack from the citizen making the comment.

Mayor Mitchell goes on to ask the citizen if there is any other topic the citizen would like to discuss.

The citizen stated he had information to share and continued speaking.

The City of Kyle eventually muted the citizen.

What was the topic? And who was the citizen?

The topic was Jeff (Jeffrey) Barnett, the City of Kyle Police Chief.

The citizen was Glen Hurlston.

The comment was focused on Barnett’s relationship and a City of Kyle investigation where the citizen claims to receive information proving a false statement made by Barnett in a City of Kyle investigation.

The citizen went on to reiterate concerns raised previously; as it relates to Barnett’s ability to obtain employment with the City of Kyle.

After making a brief comment about the employment issues, the City of Kyle placed the citizen on mute.

In review of the rules for the City of Kyle Public Comment, the following is stated:

“The Mayor or Chair is responsible for ensuring the orderly conduct of participants during City Council meetings and shall prohibit the use of the citizen comment period to engage in personal attacks, discussion of personnel and employment matters, the use of profanity or ethnic, racial or gender-oriented slurs, or any “disorderly conduct” which violates state or local law.”

Click to access 1176_amended_rules_of_council.pdf

The State of Texas Open Meeting Act states the following:

Sec. 551.007. PUBLIC TESTIMONY. (a) This section applies only to a governmental body described by Sections 551.001(3)(B)-(L).

(e) A governmental body may not prohibit public criticism of the governmental body, including criticism of any act, omission, policy, procedure, program, or service. This subsection does not apply to public criticism that is otherwise prohibited by law.

Are the rules created for public comment for the City of Kyle a potential violation of the 1st Amendment Rights of Citizens? Was the comment a personal attack? Was there any merit to the comment? Is there any truth in the allegations?

The concern may be the lack of action by the City of Kyle to address concerns of citizens, but we want your opinion. What do you think?

City of Kyle – Citizen Comment – 4/6/21