The Business of the City: Miscellaneous

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Rules of Order

Many people have reached out to me via email, this blog,* and on social media to complain about the harsh and unfair way in which they see the council act at our meetings. I know that sometimes my face betrays my displeasure, but I do not yell, and I have never attempted to shut down my colleagues' commentary simply because I disagree with it. Sometimes, folks don't like what I have to say, but I am always respectful, I don't raise my voice, and I try to be succinct in my commentary. I write this blog to make sure that my thoughts are accessible to those who do not attend council meetings or watch them on television. It is my fiduciary and ethical responsibility to those who elected me to be as transparent as possible.

The way in which we conduct ourselves as councilors is important--in the last couple of instances, the council president was completely out of line in trying to shut me down as I attempted to bring an ordinance before the city council to put on our agenda. She was visibly angry and rude. I don't know if she forgot the rules of order that we voted on, or whether it was a willful attempt to deny me the right to add to the agenda. Either way, all councilors are entitled to speak on every ordinance, resolution, or motion. Regarding the violation of the rules of order for the governing body (the consistent shutting down of speech rights, singling out councilors, and pounding the gavel on speech that one disagrees with) here are the excerpts:

11.7 Interruption: 

A Council member, once recognized, shall not be interrupted when speaking unless it is to call a point of order or as herein otherwise provided. If a Council member, while speaking, shall be called on a point of order, he or shall cease speaking until the Council President determines the point of order; if in order, he or she shall be permitted to proceed.

11.8 Speaking on an Ordinance, Resolution or Motion, Time: 

No Council member shall speak on any resolution, ordinance or any other matter more than three times, or longer than 15 minutes the first time, 10 minutes the second time, and five minutes the third time without the permission of the President.

11.9 Questioning Administration Officials, Invited Guest, Time: 

Council members will rotate according to the roll call order to question anyone that appears before the Council. Each member will be entitled to five continuous minutes of questioning before the next Council member is allowed to pose any question or make any comments. A Council member may pass or yield their time to another member of the City Council once the President has approved it.

*I have received numerous comments on my previous post--some I did not publish, because I don't think terms such as "ghettofied" or comments about people's looks, hairstyles, clothing, etc., are helpful to the conversation about Plainfield's future. If you want me to publish your comment, please refrain from focusing on someone's looks, hair, avian qualities, etc.