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Point of Personal Privilege


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I was attending a city council meeting where council members wanted to make complimentary speeches about the outgoing mayor at his final meeting. The council follows RONR in all ways relevant to this question except that normally there's a strict rule that items must be listed on the agenda in order to be addressed by council. The council probably didn't want to add an agenda item specifically for praising the outgoing mayor (it's unusual, didn't want to give away the surprise, a framed gavel was being presented, etc.) So, after all items on the agenda except adjournment had been addressed, a council member said, "I rise to a point of privilege." They were recognized by the mayor and then made their laudatory speech. Each member of council made the same "point" of privilege request and a speech. This was clearly by unanimous assent of the assembly, and no harm done, but still seems like a misunderstanding of a question of privilege. I think the proper method would have been for a council member to obtain recognition and say, "Mr. Mayor, before a motion to adjourn, I request the assent of the council for an open forum to recognize your service to the community." I'm referring to "Good of the Order, General Good and Welfare, or Open Forum" in RONR (11th ed.), pp. 362-363. Do I have this right?

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I agree with Mr. Honneman and would add that it is the procedure followed in all of the many legislative bodies I follow, including our state legislature and its committees and several city councils. I think it is the same with the Congress.  Whether technically proper or not, that’s just the way it is done.

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