Houston Council Committees Don't Always Post Public Notices Online

City of Houston committee meeting posted outside City Hall.
In this internet age — is it time for local government municipalities to update their policies and post all meeting and agenda notices online? The City of Houston is in compliance with state laws — but isn't doing all it could to keep up with technology.

If you want to find out when a City of Houston committee meeting is scheduled, or what's on the agenda, you'd probably try to look it up on the city's website.

But you may be hard-pressed to find all the information there.

Instead, you'll have to drive downtown to 901 Bagby, walk up the steps of City Hall and look for the old-fashioned cork bulletin board next to the door.

That's where the city is required by law to post notices of all public meetings.

"It's just right outside here on city hall steps on the back side of the building."

That's At-Large Councilmember Stephen Costello who chairs the Budget and Fiscal Affairs committee.

His is one of the committees that does consistently post information online. He says the city is probably behind the times on this issue.

"I think we voluntarily do that. It just kind of depends on each one of the committee chairs and how they want to do that and convey that information. My staff makes sure that on our website, we post the meetings, we put our minutes in there if we have them done and if there are any presentations that are done by the people that visit the committee, we make sure that's on there."

There are six city council committees. Three of them regularly update their agendas online, although not all on the same webpage. The other three don't.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker's administration has touted the need for more transparency at the city level.

When KUHF pointed out the lack of online information to Parker, she was startled.

"I hadn't realized that councilmembers weren't doing that."

Parker says each individual committee chair is responsible for posting agendas.

"They are independent elected officials and I cannot force them to do things. But I can make sure that my staff takes on that responsibility. So, good point."

The three city council committees that do not post information online are the Quality of Life committee, the Housing, Sustainable Growth and Development committee and the committee on Ethics, Elections and Council Governance.

KUHF tried to reach the councilmembers who chair those committees, but was unsuccessful.

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...