local government

Does Robert’s Rules support quorum busting?

By Ann Macfarlane / November 27, 2023 / Comments Off on Does Robert’s Rules support quorum busting?

Dear Dinosaur: Recently, two board members walked out during a roll call vote knowing that they were going to lose on the vote.  Their departure ended the meeting because there was no longer a quorum. At the next meeting, they cited “Roberts Rules” that said they had a “right” to walk out as a filibuster and…

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What justifies calling a Point of Order?

By Ann Macfarlane / November 8, 2023 / Comments Off on What justifies calling a Point of Order?

Guest post by Nicole Schenk The motion Point of Order is a request to the chair to enforce a parliamentary rule, which a member is claiming has just been broken, or is in the process of being broken. Calling a Point of Order is a basic right of every member. It is one way to…

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Less Is More: Action Minutes Save Time, Serve the Agency Best

By Ann Macfarlane / October 27, 2023 / Comments Off on Less Is More: Action Minutes Save Time, Serve the Agency Best

This article describes the benefits of action minutes. It was first published on the MRSC blog. MRSC is a private nonprofit organization, formerly known as “Municipal Resources and Service Center,” serving local governments in Washington State. The insights described here apply to local governments across the nation. If your council, commission, or committee takes detailed…

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Is the Planning Commission a rubber stamp?

By Ann Macfarlane / August 15, 2023 /

Dear Dinosaur: Some of the citizens in our area accuse the Planning Commission of being a rubber stamp for staff recommendations. How should we respond? Answer: If your Planning Commission fulfills your duty of reviewing staff recommendations carefully, asking pertinent questions, deliberating on those recommendations, listening to the public, and allowing every commissioner’s opinion to…

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The most useful and practical phrase a chair can say

By Ann Macfarlane / May 17, 2023 /
gears with word practical

Updated April 25, 2024 It’s a little risky to make extreme claims, but in the view of Jurassic Parliament, the most useful and practical phrase a chair can say is: Members will kindly seek recognition before speaking. This is based on our 25+ years of experience, in which the tendency of meetings to dissolve into…

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Don’t attack or criticize the staff in public

By Ann Macfarlane / November 17, 2022 / Comments Off on Don’t attack or criticize the staff in public
man shaking finger

Several local government officials have recently described to us situations where elected officials are criticizing and attacking the staff during public meetings. This must not happen. Councilmembers and board members must respect the role of the administrative head of the organization (mayor, city manager, general manager, etc.). They may not criticize the staff in public.…

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Ann’s podcast interview, “Running Amazing Council Meetings,” with Jim Hunt

By Ann Macfarlane / September 7, 2022 / Comments Off on Ann’s podcast interview, “Running Amazing Council Meetings,” with Jim Hunt

I had the pleasure this summer of a lively conversation with Jim Hunt, host of “Amazing Cities and Towns” podcast. Jim is a former mayor and councilmember in Clarksburg, West Virginia, and past president of the National League of Cities. He brought a candid eye,  wide experience, and sharp insights to our discussion. We talked…

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Changing course: Using Robert’s Rules to alter a prior action

By Ann Macfarlane / May 5, 2022 / Comments Off on Changing course: Using Robert’s Rules to alter a prior action

It seems that a lot of confusion prevails within our local government bodies about the Motion to Reconsider and how to use it. This article describes when and how to reconsider a motion, and other ways of changing your mind as a body. It was first published on the MRSC blog. MRSC is a private…

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Meeting or session: what’s the difference in Robert’s Rules?

By Ann Macfarlane / December 17, 2021 / Comments Off on Meeting or session: what’s the difference in Robert’s Rules?

When a group of people gather together to conduct their organization’s business, they are in a meeting. The group of people is called an “assembly,” and the event by which they gather is called a “meeting.” Sometimes in order to conduct business the assembly meets in a series of meetings. This series of meetings is…

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