PB: March 4 Council Meeting Quick Bites
Robert’s Rules of Order Controversy
During last night’s dysfunctional meeting, Village Attorney Eve Boutsis claimed that Councilman Fiore improperly voted against his own motion. Because of this parliamentary ruling, the site plan vote that had lost, was reconsidered and eventually passed.
SDM, as our readers know, is something of a skeptic so we investigated Robert’s Rules and found the following reference related to voting on one’s own motion: “The maker of a motion, though he can vote against it, cannot speak against his own motion.” (Article VII, Section 42, Debate.)
5:00 PM Update: SDM confirmed a couple things since posting this information earlier today. First, Village Attorney did in fact mistakenly opine that Robert’s Rules of Order prohibits a member from voting against his or her own motion. Second, Robert’s Rules does in fact permit the maker of a motion to vote against his or her motion. Third, based on SDM’s reading of the village council’s procedures ordinance together with Robert’s Rules, the vote cannot be reconsidered at the next council meeting. Fourth, in the immortal words of Ricky Ricardo, somebody’s got some splainin’ to do.
SDM Wonders: If the village attorney – in her role as parliamentarian – gives a legally binding opinion on the rules that turns out to be wrong, what is the remedy?
SDM Says: Perhaps Palmetto Bay operates under a different version of Robert’s Rules than the one SDM Googled. If so, the village attorney should cite the authority upon which she relied or repair the damage done.
Dysfunction on Display
One of SDM’s regular readers likes to post every few months the following: “Fiore for Mayor!” Well, after last night’s display, SDM cannot see how Mr. Fiore could stand for the post. He is just not coherent enough to lead this village.
Specifically, Fiore offered an amendment to the Palmetto Bay parks master plan amendment to the effect that the skate park should be retained in the plan and that the proposed soccer fields should be moved to Coral Reef Park. The problem was that the Coral Reef plan had already been decided in a previous vote.
When he was advised of the conundrum, Fiore appeared truly flummoxed and lost. SDM watched this event live and couldn’t help but squirm watching the meltdown.
Generally, SDM likes the way Fiore votes and the way that he stands up against Mayor Shelley’s perpetual nonsense. But last night, Fiore proved he can’t play ball at even Palmetto Bay’s single A level.
Learning Curve Continues
Vice Mayor John Dubois is bold, but not prepared and perhaps he learned last night that he must be both to succeed.
SDM believes it was during the Palmetto Bay Park item that Dubois’s had his moment of incomprehensibility. He attempted to amend the motion to state (SDM is paraphrasing from memory here) that whatever the council was permitting the village to do at the park, village private schools and churches are allowed to do the same.
SDM understands the sentiment, but the format was completely wrong. The council was adopting a site plan and a zoning change for each of these specific properties. Attaching the private schools and churches provision did nothing substantively or legally, as village staff advised.
Councilwoman Lindsay kindly explained the Vice Mayor’s error (she deserves kudos for doing so because her frustration with the inanity of the moment was shared by SDM), but Mr. Dubois just kept on keeping on.
Running a local government serious business and demands the kind of preparation one would make to run one’s business or do one’s day job. Mr. Dubois and Mr. Fiore clearly had not prepared themselves for the meeting and came off looking ridiculous. It’s not enough to vote right, gentlemen.
SDM Says: How very, very disappointing.
SDM’s general observation of last night’s meeting is that the council is tying itself up in knots over minutiae. Prior councils have created a Rubik’s Cube process for managing areas where the public gathers and our elected officials can’t seem to work their way through the thicket they created.
Perhaps this council needs time to gel into a working body, but boy is it tough to watch them stumble through meetings leaderless.
SDM was reminded on the nineteenth century German statesman Otto Von Bismarck who is credited with first observing that “laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.”
SDM Says: No matter how painful it is to watch, we must supervise the ingredients stuffed into the casings of our laws so that the resulting sausages do not make us sick.