Saturday, November 10, 2012

Parliamentary procedure

"if you are the master of the rules, you are at a distinct advantage at the School Committee table"
"never go into a meeting where you might not get what you want without a plan to know how to get what you want"

"who did you talk to" when someone tells you "the state says," "DESE says," "the AG says"
You can't have a meeting without a quorum: one-half plus one of the full committee (unless you have a special rule)
a majority vote in a majority of those present
School Committee rules can change any rules so long as the change is fair
...if you are a seven member committee, and four members are a meeting, three members can pass a motion that might not have passed if the other three had showed up
roll call...member may call for a roll call (this is a change that most committees make for Robert's Rules)
tie vote: the motion fails
some of the regional districts have weighed votes
abstentions are as if you were if they weren't present (thus they don't count toward majority) : no reason must be given
for committees that allow voting "present," you ARE there, and thus a majority of those there are still required to pass something
motion to reconsider may be made at the same meeting...many expand that by local decision for longer than that, but in some cases must be on the prevailing side in order to reconsider
if you don't have a motion to reconsider, any member can bring forward a motion to rescind: which means to take it back, but you may not rescind the unrescindable (you can revote if you already spent the money, for example)
the chair is the parliamentarian, however, a motion may be made to overrule the chair (on the question of parliamentary procedure)
"the chair is the servant of the assembly, not the master"
chair is responsible to those present, those not present, those watching at home; the chair has to protect people from themselves
The chair may not overrule the law or the municipal charter (or regional agreement)
do the rules continued to be suspended? They can be unless you specify otherwise
laying something on the table is a temporary deferral of the issue; at the end of the meeting, the table is cleared, unless you have a rule otherwise
it is unethical to put something on the table to kill it
more ethical to postpone
a motion to table is not debatable; may make a point of parliamentary inquiry, "Why must we do this?"
a motion to postpone is debatable
once the motion is seconded, the motion becomes the property of the school committee, not the maker of the school committee
"the friendly amendment" does not exist in Robert's Rules
motions that are made but don't have a second die
In a small group, you may elect to waive seconds
Parliamentary procedure does not necessarily mean Robert's Rules of order (there are others)
adoption of policy often is an exception
There is no "old business;" it's "unfinished business."
may ask that debate be closed, and the committee may vote to close debate
Robert's suggests that you hear one from each side
the chair has the right to recognize a speaker at the chair's discretion
MASC cannot get you the majority
American Association of Parliamentarians
the agenda is the property of the School Committee, not the superintendent
if your item is being blocked by the chair, a member can bring it to the assembly (commenting that the chair could not reasonably have forseen that this was coming up)
the chair has the power to do things "unless there is an objection" and minutes should reflect that
never ask "does anyone else have anything they'd like to say?" if you're the chair
there is the tension between the committee's right to know and effective and quick business
"if the chair could not anticipate the subject coming up, you can take it up at that meeting" (and that's kosher under the Open Meeting Law)
cannot change the rules for executive session, can't change chair's participation (must be recognized, etc)
some committees reorder precedence of motion
highest precedent is the motion to adjourn: motion to adjourn and is always in order (unless local rules say otherwise)
HOWEVER, the meeting is not adjourned until the chair declares the meeting is adjourned (and until that happens, the motion to adjourn may be reconsidered)
"if it's on tape, it better be in the minutes"
You don't have to be at the meeting in order to approve the minutes
must regularly vote to release executive session minutes; if those minutes are being released in part, it should be noted in the minutes
If you have a quorum in the room, any member can convene the meeting (even if the chair isn't there), unless rules say otherwise
if you lose your quorum, the only thing the group may vote on is a motion to adjourn
If you allow public comment, best to have rules not to engage in discussion or debate; simply allow the public to comment.
You can have an amendment to the motion, and you can have an amendment to the amendment: BUT that's it.
You can recess to another day, but you have to give public notice of the meeting; it's not illegal to take less time than you said you might
If you have a curfew in the rules, you have to suspend the rules to continue the meeting (but if you're just still meeting, you aren't violating the law by continuing meet, even though it's the next day).
Some have rules of mandatory public comment period
Curfew must define what happens to remaining business.
...and that's all we have time on...

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