Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal
Monday's Alice City Council meeting was the first for new city manager Albert Uresti, and included several new procedural changes.
Other than a slightly altered seating change, the first new procedure is the addition of a prayer prior to the Pledge of Allegiance at the opening of the meeting.
Monday's invocation was led by Uresti.
Following the meeting, Uresti said he had placed the invocation on the agenda with the approval of the mayor and the city's attorney.
"I think it helps set the tempo of the meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance and prayer," Uresti said. "It can only help set the tempo for a positive meeting."
The other major change to the council's procedure is a call for individual votes on motions made during the meeting. Under the past procedure, following a motion and a second on an agenda item, Mayor Grace Saenz-Lopez would ask all council members in favor of the item to vote together and all council members against an item to vote together.
Under the new procedure, following a motion and a second, each council member is asked individually to voice their vote for or against the motion.
Uresti said the new procedure is designed to make record-keeping easier during the meeting.
"I think it allows for more deliberate discussion. It allows the public to see who's voting how, and I think it's a better method of voting," Uresti said. "I think a lot of times the majority does not get the opportunity to show their vote (under the old procedure)."
A rotating schedule will determine which council member is called upon to vote first on each agenda item, spreading the responsibility of being the first council member to vote on an item, Uresti said.
All of the changes made in procedure, Uresti said, are designed for one specific purpose.
"I think together, the council and I, we're going to work to make the meetings go smoother," Uresti said. "That's our goal."