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Guest Confused

Can a motion supersede a by-law?

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Guest Confused

Our city council was requested to attend a special meeting in executive session by the city manager/clerk (manager for ease of writing). All proper procedures were followed for the calling of the meeting and the proper executive session reasons were cited. 

When council requested the details of the meeting and requested the usual confidential documentation, they were informed that it was just for "information purposes" only and that no documentation was required. 

At the meeting, the manager presented a motion for councils approval. During the debate, council was led to believe that it was "normal" procedure for the request and reluctantly they passed the motion by resolution. 

However, days after the meeting, it came to councils attention that there is a by-law already in place that the newly passed motion contradicts. 

It's now felt that council was blindsided and a different outcome would have most likely ensued if they had been given the proper documentation. 

Some background for clarification: 

1. The city manager drafts all agendas and resolutions for council. This is in the procedures.
2. This is an entirely new council (very recently appointed) who have no experience sitting as council members. They don't yet know the proper procedures or what they can or cannot do and rely solely on the manager to guide them. 
3. Council agreed to attend the meeting so there was quorum, but assumed that addition information would be provided to understand the content of the meeting. They knew the general nature of the meeting, but not the details.
4. The by-law was only passed a couple of years ago and was created by the manager - it is felt that it wasn't an oversight that it wasn't presented.
5. Without giving too much information, the by-law and new motion relate to a monetary matter. 

The question is: 
1. Can a motion/resolution supersede an existing by-law? 
2. Would council have to bring forward a motion to "cancel" this motion even if it wasn't valid? How would they change this?

I suspect that the by-law should have been amended rather than passing a contradictory motion and that the motion is null and void. 
There is nothing in the by-law that states it can be amended or suspended and no other document that speaks to this situation. 

Thanks in advance.

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If you feel the motion was improperly adopted because it violates some provision in the bylaws, at the next regular or properly called meeting a point of order can be raised by any of the council members to that effect.  The chair's ruling on this point of order can usually be appealed.  If, in the end, it is determined a violation of one of the breaches noted on p. 251 has taken place, the action is null and void and there is no need to "cancel" or rescind the adopted motion. See RONR (11th ed.), p. 251

You should also check with the council's attorney on this matter.

Edited by George Mervosh

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Guest Jack

Another note of caution: many "open door laws" say that with a governmental unit no voting can occur except in an meeting open to the public so voting in an executive session would not be allowed.

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Guest
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