I wrote a story earlier this week about the city of Sherman buying all the council members new cellphones. After the city held a training session for staff and council members on the Texas Open Meetings Act earlier this month, the city manager’s office decided it wanted to give the council members the ability to keep their personal and city business separate and surprised them with new phones.
I was there when the council received the phones, and they seemed excited, though some were concerned about learning a new phone, which I certainly understood.
City staff said the phones were actually free, but the expected monthly charges of $48 for each phone will come out of the city manager’s portion of the budget. Because those phones are being paid for by the city, that means all their new phone numbers are public record. I was going to request the new numbers, but the city posted them on its website before I even had a chance to ask.
I’ve always found the council members to be pretty easy to get in touch with, but I go to all of their meetings and have been covering them as a group for years. And because of that, I’ve been given many of their personal cellphone numbers, which the average city resident wouldn’t necessarily have access to.
Each council member had contact information listed on the city website, including their city email addresses, but a direct phone number wasn’t listed for everyone. With these new numbers, all city residents now have a direct line to each and every one of their city representatives.
When I was doing my story on the new cellphones, I asked Mayor David Plyler how he was enjoying the new phone and he said the biggest change for him was carrying two phones around at all times — his city phone and his personal phone. I asked whether having two phones made him feel more important; he laughed at the question.
I felt like having two cellphones would have made me feel like I was a big deal. He said that wasn’t the case, but was glad the public had a new way to contact the council.
We here at the Herald Democrat haven’t had the opportunity to call all the new cellphones yet, but I’m happy to report we immediately got through to the two we have called. I’m sure both the public and the council members will appreciate having that direct line for the other.
Happy birthday Saturday to Ethan Ruth of Durant, Oklahoma; and Kinet Smith of Duncanville.