Some Dallas Council Members Remain Upset With City’s Attendance Policy
DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The simple task of taking detailed attendance records during public meetings continues to stir controversy among members of the Dallas City Council more than two years after the measure was enacted.
“This is absolutely totally, totally, totally unfair,” said councilwoman Carolyn Davis during a council briefing on Nov. 16.
She was upset with the city paying someone to watch them.
“I have a problem with paying them, a staff person, $70,000 to take note if we’re here or not,” Davis said.
Adelia Gonzalez is paid $30,846, according to the Texas Tribune’s government employee salary database, as a Customer Service Representative.
One of the duties of that position, which falls under the umbrella of the City Secretary’s Office, is to take notes of every minute of each meeting, including whether someone showed up one minute late or stepped out for five.
If councilmembers miss more than 50 percent of any meeting, they are marked as “absent.” If they miss enough meetings, their annual salary begins to decrease.
This was first passed in August of 2009 while Tom Leppert served as mayor. It was created to help curb council members arriving late to meetings and leaving early.
The council voted 11-4 to enact the measure. When it was passed, the Dallas Morning News reported Davis “vigorously opposed” the measure.
Public records requested by CBS 11 show current Mayor Mike Rawlings has the best attendance since June 27, sitting in his seat for 99 percent of all council meetings in that time period.
At the bottom of the list is Davis, who was present for just over 80 percent of all City Council meetings since that date.
Davis has not responded to requests for comment left by phone and in person over the course of the last week.
Councilwoman Vonciel Jones Hill, though, also took issue with just how detailed the records get. She too voted against the measure in 2009.
“If I go to the ladies’ room, someone has got to sit here and count me,” she said.
City secretary Rosa Rios sees things differently.
“I think it’s really very important that the City Council … be able to justify to the public that their council members are attending the meetings that they’re supposed to, that they’re conducting city business,” she said.
Davis also reflected the Tribune’s salary record of the position, saying it earns about $30,000 when benefits are taken into the account.
“She’s basically at the minimum for that position,” Rios said. “So it’s not a highly paid position.”