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Rules of Order, or Games of Disorder?

Niles trustees make decisions that become the law; it's essential that we follow established parliamentary rules or meetings could disintegrate into chaos.

 

The following Letter to the Editor expresses the views of the author. Patch merely serves as a forum for readers to state their opinions. 

  

The Niles Journal’s recent editorial about the need for restraint when invoking Robert's Rules needs clarification. It was not Trustee Preston who raised the point of order about the stated requirement for the Committee of the Whole to be chaired by a trustee and not the mayor, it was me.

When trustees take the oaths of office, we do so with the understanding that all will follow the law and the rules. A public body must follow proper conduct, not ignore rules just because someone erroneously thinks otherwise. Joe Annunzio, the Village Attorney and parliamentarian, concurred with my objection, but Mr. Callero merely defiantly blazed on ignoring even his own parliamentarian. It became a world where two plus two equals five.

Our public meetings should conform to the rules, and be followed by elected officials even if they don’t personally like them or want to follow them. Last year Mayor Callero and trustee Przybylo should have shown restraint but stomped out of an ongoing meeting just because they didn’t like the motion made by another trustee. Those of us who remained to do our duty sat there amazed at such behavior. The meeting was never officially adjourned. A sad way to conduct village business.

It is necessary and important to follow the rules of order because the legal functioning of a committee follows upon the legal requirements for a regular meeting. THAT’S THE LAW. The previous mayor was a lawyer and did pretty much what he wanted, when he wanted, rules or no rules. To disregard legal procedures now is to fall back to the days of yesteryear when the mayor could do practically anything he wanted and the trustees collectively nodded their heads to whatever he told them. Hundreds of thousands of dollars, cars and village property were apparently given out to the then mayor’s favorites all seemingly OKed by phone calls to trustees for alleged approval in direct defiance of state law and Robert’s Rules, both which require an official vote of the board IN SESSION.

"Leaderships in state legislative bodies are always attentive to the rules of order; that is often how they maintain control over the assembly, as well as control over their obedient state legislators and state senators who walk around the floor of their respective chambers, do crossword puzzles, chat on cell phones, carry on rambling conversations, eat and drink, scratch their tired and weary heads , all the while waiting for the voting bell to ring reminding them to push their voting buttons as ordered by their leadership.”

Restraint can be deadly. A surgeon should never show restraint to do all that is possible for a patient. A policeman should never show restraint to investigate crimes or enforce the law. A lifeguard should never show restraint to save a drowning person. And a public servant should NEVER SHOW RESTRAINT to follow rules which guarantee an orderly discussion of public policy and vote. Several of us trustees know what to do, and we ought not to be counseled to show restraint just because someone may find a topic boring, tedious or inconveniently true. We are required by law, oath and ethics to do what is right and proper. After a half century of lax enforcement, things apparently have still not changed. Niles has to get on track and follow the law and the rules of order.

 

Chris Hanusiak

Village of Niles Trustee

Letters to the Editor may be addressed to pam@patch.com.

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Jac Charlier October 20, 2012 at 08:59 PM
Very interesting post...Trustee Hanusiak, where does the portion below of your letter fit in? I saw quotation marks at the end and did not know how it related to your argument or if it was first taken from another document. Thank you. Leaderships in state legislative bodies are always attentive to the rules of order; that is often how they maintain control over the assembly, as well as control over their obedient state legislators and state senators who walk around the floor of their respective chambers, do crossword puzzles, chat on cell phones, carry on rambling conversations, eat and drink, scratch their tired and weary heads , all the while waiting for the voting bell to ring reminding them to push their voting buttons as ordered by their leadership.”
Pat Craig October 21, 2012 at 12:02 AM
I hate to be picky, but facts are stubborn things. Roberts Rules of Order are a set of guidelines and do not have the force of law. The rules under which any body, (private or government)operate are generally agreed upon by the body itself. In the case of governmental entities, unless Roberts Rules have been codified into the governing ordinances, the body can, in fact, make it up as they go along. Many times, Roberts Rules are used on an uninformed minority to steamroll unwanted, (and sometimes unwise), legislation. As a citizen said to a village manager over ten years ago regarding an action at issue; "Just because you can do something legally doesn't mean that it's right."
Chris Hanusiak October 22, 2012 at 12:25 AM
Jac, The opening quote should be before Leaderships to emphasize leadership.
Jac Charlier October 22, 2012 at 12:30 AM
Trustee Hanusiak - thanks...that makes sense. Sadly, I "like" that part of your post even though the commentary it makes is disappointing, to say the least. "control over their obedient state legislators and state senators who walk around the floor of their respective chambers, do crossword puzzles, chat on cell phones, carry on rambling conversations, eat and drink, scratch their tired and weary heads , all the while waiting for the voting bell to ring reminding them to push their voting buttons as ordered by their 'leadership'"
Jac Charlier October 22, 2012 at 12:33 AM
@Pat - Agreed. With 20 years of civic engagement experience so far, I have found that the best question to ask to break through apparent barriers that limit our ability as citizens to act is simply, why? I tell people to keep asking it over and over...after a few times, the answers may no longer make sense or may stop coming altogether. Then, you know you can begin to address the real issue. Thank you for your posting.

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