When is a Motion not a Motion
As a person who likes to dig into laws and rules, I was very curious when I saw the headline on AccessNorthGa.com: Oliver: ‘I’m not accepting this motion’. Browsing through the Hall County code, I see 2.10.010 that says; “Robert’s Rules of Order are implemented as the official rules governing all meetings of the board of commissioners of the county.”
Robert’s Rules of order is a complicated book. My copy is over 700 pages long. I watched the replay of the March 10, 2011 commission meeting to see what motion was not accepted. At the 50 minute mark on the replay, Commissioner Lutz made the motion, “Do to the report from finance, I would like to make a motion to amend something previously adopted. On February 24, this commission approved ball fields at Cool Springs Parks. I would like to amend the motion to consider option 2, minus the bathroom facilities, septic system and water.” The Chairman after several minutes of debate (without a second) ruled that he would not accept the motion.
After reviewing the motion in my copy of Robert’s rules, I believe that the motion was in order. Page 74 says that a motion to amend a previous motion brings a question before the assembly again. There would have been a legitimate complaint about whether or not notice was required before making the motion, but pp116 line 29 says that as long as the majority of the entire membership approves, then it can be accepted. As the entire membership was present and presumably Commissioner Lutz felt that he had the votes, the motion should have been granted.
By not recognizing the legitimate motion from the floor, the chairman demonstrated dereliction of duty. Fortunately there is a remedy in Robert’s Rules; unfortunately, neither Commissioner Lutz, nor the other commissioners knew the rules. Here is an education for you (RONR pp. 642):
“If the chair at a meeting ignores a motion apparently made and seconded in good faith, and neither states the question on the motion nor rules it out of order, the maker of the motion should raise a Point of Order covering the case, and from the chair’s decision he can Appeal. If the chair also ignores the point of order, the member can repeat the motion; and if it is seconded and the chair still ignores it, the maker of the motion can himself put it to a vote standing in his place. If the regular presiding officer of an organized society culpably fails to perform the duties of the chair properly in a meeting, a motion can also be made to censure him, which can be put to a vote by the maker of the motion as just explained, if necessary.”
My suggestion boys: brush up on the rules and take them to school. JFK said; “In a time of turbulence and change, it is more true than ever that knowledge is power.” If you want to fix this, get motion AND a second on the floor, then move on without the chair.
Hugh Hall County Akston