It is amazing that Tracy Woodard and the Charter Committee wish to make the procedural guidelines for utilizing Robert’s Rules of order lax, less strict, less careful, and slack so that Councilors can run a meeting however they wish. That is one of the Charter Amendments you will have to vote on. But why would lessening the effect of Robert’s Rules of Order constitute safety from lawsuits, by eliminating procedure?
Frederick Koberlein, our former Town Attorney, on February 10, 2017 provided his opinion, which follows. However, as you know since Rhett Bullard and Spencer Lofton do not believe in Attorney General Opinions, why would they listen to Attorney Koberlein. After all, they dismissed his opinions and like usual Tonja Brown had not a word to say but hung in with her Gang of Thugs.
Koberlein Law Offices – February 10, 2017
“We have been asked for an opinion on the Town Council’s use of Robert’s Rules of Order as required by the Town Charter and whether liability exists when the rules are not followed. Section 2.04 (a) (2) of the Town Charter requires that “Roberts Rules of Order shall govern the procedure of meetings.” Robert’s Rules of order is one of the most common procedural guidelines for council meetings. Section 4.2 of the Florida Municipal Officials’ Manual provides an overview of the basic rules. The Florida Municipal Officials’ Manual is published by the Florida League of Cities and available through the Florida League of Cities’ website or Town Hall. Therefore, the first concern is that each councilor hold a basic working knowledge of Robert’s Rules of Order so that a minimum level of parliamentary procedure is observed.
Whether liability is created by the Town Council’s failure to follow proper procedural rules (Robert’s Rules of Order) is a question that cannot be predicted. The unpredictability is due to the inability of knowing the situation or circumstances that may arise. For example, if the Town Council were to use improper procedures but no substantive right of an individual or entity was effected, then nominal liability would be created. Conversely, if improper procedures were used when denying a petitioner’s request for relief through the land development regulations and the denial cost the petitioner substantial time and money, then substantial liability is created. Hence the question of what liability is created by a failure to follow procedural rules, by the Town Council, is answered by determining the rights of the individual or entity that are violated.
The Town Council should ensure that councilors have a basic understanding of procedural rules. The primary principle of procedural rules is to facilitate the transaction of business and promote cooperation and harmony. See page 9, Chapter 4, Florida Municipal Officials’ Manual
End of Letter
So there you have it! The Council does not feel that they have to follow any procedure whatsoever and can run a meeting anyway in which they feel which is definitely chaos and most likely will not facilitate business nor promote cooperation and harmony. Robert’s Rules of Order is one of the most simplistic procedures available. In fact, Joe Griffin purchased the Council laminated Cheat Sheets as well as a manual on Robert’s Rules of Order. However, the Gang of Three, Bullard, Brown and Lofton don’t see fit to following any procedure and do not see fit in allowing citizens express themselves at meetings, much less handling any complaints in a procedural manner. I am certain they threw the information away.
Karin for the blog