Robert’s Rules provides for constructive and democratic meetings, to help, not hinder, the business of the assembly. Under no circumstances should “undue strictness” be allowed to intimidate members or limit full participation.
I don’t always agree with Councilor Elliot and have from time to time stated that fact very clearly.He seems to constantly oppose the Administration just for the sake of opposing and does so in a tone that is often combative.
However a City Councilor has the responsibility to ask questions and given the recent history of the City Administration regarding the IG’s letter about the procurement Issues surrounding the Fireboxes along with the Administrations not informing them on the LHA issues, you can certainly understand that Councilors have questions about the process.
I also understand that the City Council Rules state : RULE 9
The presiding officer shall preserve decorum and order; may speak to points of order in preference to other members; shall decide all questions of order, subject to an appeal to the City Council”
Giving the Mayor a great bit of latitude in deciding what is and isn’t proper decorum and how he effectively keeps order. At last nights meeting however it seemed to me that the Mayor only called upon Roberts Rule to stifle councilors critical of the Manager and to try to protect the Manager and that isn’t his job.
If you go to LTC you can watch again last night’s meeting. I didn’t see it so I listened to it while I was working today.
If you watch (or listen) you will notice that when it came to the Manager’s responses, the Mayor allowed back and forth conversation / dialogue between the City Manager and Councilors Mercier, Kennedy and Elliot right up until Councilor Elliot was critical of the way the City Manager handled the process.
Watch the first 44 minutes of the meeting and you will see clearly that this occurred and it isn’t until Councilor Elliot begins to question (some will say attack) the Manager and questioning the process of going or not going out for bid, that the Mayor inserts himself in the dialogue and after Councilor Elliot does ask a question the Mayor interjects and “recognizes” the Manager to speak. There by taking the floor away from Councilor Elliot who did in fact ask a question (buried in a lot of opinion).
Then after he recognizes Councilor Kennedy and the Councilor and the Manager go back and forth the Mayor again interjects himself right after Councilor Kennedy made a statement which was sympathetic or could be seen as defending Councilor Elliot. Again telling a Councilor he has to wait to be recognized.
It is NOT the Mayor’s duty to interject to protect or defend the Manager and Councilors have a right to have a discussion with the Manager. You could tell Councilor Kennedy was clearly annoyed with the Mayor cutting him off.
Roberts Rules clearly state that “ Under no circumstances should “undue strictness” be allowed to intimidate members or limit full participation ” by interjecting himself and recognizing the Manager twice he effectively cut off two Councilors who he disagreed with and who were critical of the Manager.
He is not supposed to be the Manager’s protector (Jack Mitchell already has that position with back up from Lynne, George DeLuca and the Mayor’s Aide to name a few).
Roberts Rules also states that “Remarks must be courteous in language and deportment – avoid all personalities, never allude to others by name or to motives!” and yet the Mayor never injected himself when the Manager stated to Councilor Elliot that “ You are trying to portray an imagine that this administration is not communicating with the council and that is false, misleading and in my opinion Inappropriate.”
Allowing the Manager to attack and question the motives of a fellow Councilor is certainly against Roberts Rules and yet the Mayor never said boo.
If he is going to call upon Roberts Rule’s ONLY when a Councilor is critical of the Manager or is critical of a motion/action the Mayor is in favor of, is clearly wrong and not what Roberts Rules is intended to do. The Mayor need to either invoke them all the time or allow leeway all the time.
A continuation of selective enforcement against those you disagree with or your political enemies is a misuse of the Office.
The fundamental right of deliberative assemblies require all questions to be thoroughly discussed before taking action! The assembly rules – they have the final say on everything!