PB Council to Village People: We Will Never Learn!

by SDM

SDM is going to force our fat and lazy staff to watch the Palmetto Bay COW tape from Monday as a form of mass punishment just because we had to watch part of it.

SDM can still hear the droning…and not the kind that drops a bomb on SDM at the Starbucks at 144th street.

There were so many moments that shocked us here that we are going to draw out the COW report for a couple of merciless blogs just so our kind readers can feel the pain along with us.

Here at SDM, we are not rocket surgeons…we just have internet access and curious minds. So, last night when Village Attorney Eve Boutsis opined that Councilman Fiore could reconsider the vote that she screwed up with clearly wrong legal advice (see PB: March 4 Council Meeting Quick Bites and PB: Roberts Rules Guest Post by Vice Mayor John Dubois for scintillating commentary and analysis of the controversy), SDM began to wonder if this new batch of legal advice was correct. Guess what? It wasn’t.

To understand how the council functions, one must look at two sources that create their rules of order. First is the village’s charter and code. Second is Robert’s Rules of Order, which the code identifies as the council’s procedural guidebook (see Sec. 2-48(j).)

The village code contains this provision:

Reconsideration. An action of the village council not determined pursuant to a quasi-judicial hearing may be reconsidered only at the same meeting at which the action was taken or at the next regular meeting of the council. Emphasis added. Sec. 2-48(g).

Dear readers, you see that the sentence emphasized above says you may reconsider either at that same meeting or at the next one, right?

Robert’s Rules of Order says the following: No question can be twice reconsidered unless it was materially amended after its first reconsideration. (Art. VI, Sec. 36.)

SDM went to the tape of the March 4 meeting to see exactly what happened and whether the Village Attorney followed the law. You can watch the meeting here starting at approximately 2:01:50 through 2:21:00.

The nuttiness begins with Councilman Fiore moving to adopt the Coral Reef Park Master Plan with an amendment requiring the manager to provide financial reports. Dubois seconded the motion. (Four votes are needed to amend a parks master plan.)

The council bounced the motion around for a while and eventually Fiore and Dubois voted no, killing it. That’s when the Village Attorney interrupted the proceedings to wrongly proclaim that Fiore was barred from voting against the motion he made.

To make matters worse, the attorney suggested to Fiore that he might want to reconsider the prior vote, presumably as a mechanism to keep the master plan out of the trash can. Fiore moved to reconsider and it passed. Then, Fiore moved the master plan again but with another amendment to add protections for churches and schools.

Mayor Stanczyk asked the attorney if the new amendment would have any binding effect and was told “it would have no effect.” (2:16:23) Vice Mayor Dubois expanded the amendment to say that churches and schools would be given the same treatment the amended master plan gave to Coral Reef Park (i.e., that churches and schools would not have to apply for a site plan amendment to replace their lights, etc.).

Again, the village attorney opined that the Dubois amendment, like the Fiore amendment, would have no effect because the only way schools and churches can effect changes to their site plan is by adoption of an ordinance of the council.

To summarize, the master plan item was reconsidered at the March 4 meeting and then it was amended in a way that did not change it materially. (How can an amendment be material if it would have no effect?)

When we apply the rules to these facts, we learn that the motion cannot be reconsidered in April, which is precisely the opposite of what the village attorney advised Councilman Fiore he could do.

SDM Says: Fortunately for the village attorney, SDM’s obsession with this compound malpractice is meaningless since Mr. Fiore caved-in to pressure from the audience and let the matter drop.

(SDM Wonders: How long will it take for Fiore to claim a great victory for adding meaningless words to the motion? Hmmm…)

Unfortunately for the Village People, our leaders don’t appear willing to learn their own procedural rules; instead, they choose to rely upon increasingly questionable procedural recommendations of their hired help.

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