local government

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

By Ann Macfarlane / March 6, 2018 /

Updated March 11, 2020 – see link to news story below. 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…

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Motion to censure in Kaysville, Utah

By Ann Macfarlane / January 4, 2018 / Comments Off on 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 the Salt Lake Tribune news story here. Why pass a motion to censure? The…

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Inappropriate remarks on local government councils

By Ann Macfarlane / December 14, 2017 / Comments Off on Inappropriate remarks on local government councils

If you serve as an elected official on a local government council or board, you should know the types of remarks that are inappropriate during discussion at meetings. Robert’s Rules of Order and the common parliamentary law it is based on require that: Members of a council or board must be courteous to one another.…

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Citizen’s Guide to Effective Public Meetings

By Ann Macfarlane / October 6, 2017 / Comments Off on 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!

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Local government is a miracle

By Ann Macfarlane / July 4, 2017 /

As we head into the Fourth of July holiday, I would like to thank all my readers who are involved in local government.

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Small board rules are different

By Ann Macfarlane / May 31, 2017 /

Updated July 14, 2021 The different rules for small boards are one of the best-kept secrets of Robert’s Rules of Order. If you serve on a small board (up to about 12 people) you may benefit from the flexibility that the rules for small boards offer. Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, 12th edition says…

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How well do you walk this meeting tightrope?

By Ann Macfarlane / March 8, 2017 /

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…

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Do we have to obey the mayor?

By Ann Macfarlane / October 21, 2016 / Comments Off on 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…

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4 bad habits to avoid at council meetings

By Ann Macfarlane / August 6, 2016 / Comments Off on 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…

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Which Robert’s Rules should I buy?

By Ann Macfarlane / April 17, 2015 / Comments Off on Which Robert’s Rules should I buy?

Updated July 15, 2021 When I first became interested in Robert’s Rules of Order and parliamentary procedure, I toddled off to the bookstore to get myself the book. A thin volume with a purple and green art nouveau cover, proffering Robert’s Rules for the current century, looked like a good bet. I handed over my…

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