With smart phones and tablet computers making it easier than ever to stay in touch, the City of Spokane Valley is considering a texting ban for council members while in public meetings.
It hasn't been a problem in Spokane Valley, officials say, but other cities have had problems with their council members being lobbied or provided information privately by text message or email during public meetings. The proposed change to the city's governance manual was described as a way of staying ahead of potential issues that could arise in the future.
“If someone has something to say to us, let them come forward and say it,” said Councilman Ed Pace, explaining the entire council and the public should have the benefit of the information being shared. Moreover, if the messages are being used by council members to help them make a decision, they need to be preserved as part of the public record.
The proposed ban on electronic messages would apply only during city council meetings.
Increasing numbers of cities have begun exploring bans and restrictions on council member texting during meetings.
The proposal was unveiled tonight and is expected to be considered later this month.