Effective Local Government

Don’t get into back-and-forth exchanges during public comment

When city councils, school boards or other public bodies hold their meetings, it is usual to reserve a time in the meeting for members of the public to speak to their elected officials. One common name for this is the public comment period. We strongly recommend that elected officials should not get into back-and-forth exchanges…

Read More

Motion to censure in Kaysville, Utah

Here in Salt Lake City for the Utah School Boards Association, I find an interesting news item. The Kaysville city council is scheduled to pass a motion to censure a council member and request his resignation at this evening’s meeting.

Read More

Citizen’s Guide to Effective Public Meetings

Your Citizen’s Guide to Effective Public Meetings is now available for interested citizens and residents. If you want to know the expectations for public meetings under parliamentary procedure and Robert’s Rules of Order, explained clearly and elegantly, download this Citizen’s Guide today!

Read More

Local government is a miracle

As we head into the Fourth of July holiday, I would like to thank all my readers who are involved in local government. Whether you are serving on a city or county council, a school board, a utility district, an arts commission, a library board, or as staff, you are doing quiet work that is…

Read More

How well do you walk this meeting tightrope?

Chairing a meeting requires two skills that are not easy to combine. The presider has to control the meeting, which requires strength. At the same time, he has to remain emotionally connected to the members, which requires warmth. Put too much strength into your voice, and you come across as cold and uncaring. Put too…

Read More

Do we have to obey the mayor?

obey the mayor

After a few years in this business, it seems to me that questions of authority are some of the hardest to resolve. Over and over I find city councils, boards of directors, and other governing boards struggling with the question, “Who’s in charge here, anyway?” If a group understands certain fundamental principles, it becomes much…

Read More

The First Amendment is not the last word

First Amendment

In this country today, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution is the foundation of our civil liberty. The freedoms that it lists are crucial to our society. When we read accounts of how these freedoms, in other nations, can be abridged, limited or ignored, we react with horror. And yet it is also…

Read More

4 bad habits to avoid at council meetings

There are a number of “urban myths” about Robert’s Rules of Order that can get in the way of democratic process for your council. If your municipality, county council, or special district avoids these bad habits, congratulations! If these errors happen at your meetings, however, you might want to bring them to the attention of your colleagues…

Read More

Deflategate highlights texting danger

Photo of football team

A million bucks from Tom Brady, and every public official may want to think again about his texting patterns. Attorney Ted Wells found “the import and relevance of those text messages” to be critical in his decision regarding the New England Patriots’ use of deflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game. Texting seems private, as those…

Read More