Follow the Rules Please! – Legislative Procedures

Every two years, after newly elected council members are seated, Littleton city council reviews and updates their legislative procedures. Robert’s Rules of Order forms the basis of their legislative procedures to ensure that the meeting runs fairly and orderly with decorum allowing all members the same rights and privileges as all others. The rules exist to ensure the public that business is transacted properly and appropriately.
At the 17 May 2016 council meeting Debbie Brinkman, once again, operated outside the council’s own legislative rules, which went unnoticed. Ms. Brinkman made a motion to postpone indefinitely the ordinance on lifting the ban on recreational marijuana. Her motion was made prior to the main motion ever being moved or seconded.
A motion to postpone should not be made until the main motion is made and seconded. How can a motion be postponed if it was never offered and seconded?
Council’s legislative rules, rules they voted to conduct business by, states:“Motion to Table Indefinitely. This motion postpones consideration of the main motion (emphasis added) in such a way that the issue being discussed may be taken up at an unspecified, later date when a majority of the members present vote to “call it from the table.” This motion is not debatable and requires a majority vote of the members present for passage.”
Council has an obligation to the public to conduct their business according to their own legislative procedures.  The citizens have a right to expect that they will follow their own legislative procedures.  Not doing so can lead to severe consequences if challenged in court.  Council may be “right” in their decision but if they violate their process for decision-making it won’t matter how right they might be – their decision could be overturned for not following their own rules.

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