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Dave Askins

Approval of 14-year old minutes?

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Here's the scenario: A city council (legislative branch of city government) will be asked in 2020 to approve 70 pages worth of meeting minutes from 2006. Of the nine people currently serving, two were on the city council back in 2006. The city council defers to RR on any matter not covered under its own rules of procedure. 

Question: Does RR provide any direction as to what the approval of minutes actually means? If someone votes "yes" to approve, are they saying anything more than: "Yes, this is the document the clerk is giving us." Or does a "yes" vote mean that: "Yes, I attest to the best of my knowledge that this is an accurate record of the proceedings." Or something else? What's a reasonable way for a councilmember to handle this? Any direction to specifics of RR much appreciated. Thanks. 

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I think it is safe to say that proper parliamentary procedure does not contemplate the reading and approval of minutes fourteen years after the meetings.

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8 hours ago, Dave Askins said:

Here's the scenario: A city council (legislative branch of city government) will be asked in 2020 to approve 70 pages worth of meeting minutes from 2006. Of the nine people currently serving, two were on the city council back in 2006. The city council defers to RR on any matter not covered under its own rules of procedure. 

Question: Does RR provide any direction as to what the approval of minutes actually means? If someone votes "yes" to approve, are they saying anything more than: "Yes, this is the document the clerk is giving us." Or does a "yes" vote mean that: "Yes, I attest to the best of my knowledge that this is an accurate record of the proceedings." Or something else? What's a reasonable way for a councilmember to handle this? Any direction to specifics of RR much appreciated. Thanks. 

A “yes” vote means “Yes, I attest to the best of my knowledge that this is an accurate record of the proceedings.” Generally, minutes are approved more promptly than 14 years later. Since this is nonetheless the situation the council finds itself in, however, I suppose it would be prudent for the council members to defer in this matter to the judgement of the two persons who were members of the council at that time, since they will have at least some knowledge (however limited it may be due to the passage of time) of what occurred at those meetings.

How did this unfortunate situation arise?

Edited by Josh Martin

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Agreeing with Mr. Martin, I will add that since this is a public body, there might well be state statutes or local rules which actually require that the council maintain minutes of each its  proceedings. Like Mr. Martin, I’m rather stunned  that this was not done for 14 years!

Just out of curiosity, in your standard order of business, is reading and approval of the minutes of the previous meeting not the first item in the order of business? If it’s not, it should be. 

I don’t think that RONR actually requires that you go back and re-create 14 years of minutes, but it certainly does not prohibit you from doing so. 

Edited by Richard Brown
Typographical correction

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The only thing I can add to the above is: there should not be a vote on approving the minutes. The chair declares the minutes approved once all corrections have been dealt with. 

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