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hope812

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Our City Council was meeting as Committee of the Whole (COW) called to hear delegations from citizens on a major and controversial municipal project. The membership of COW is the same as for full Council - 24 members. Quorum for both is a majority or 13. Because of difficulties maintaining quorum (which was clearly stated as the only reason for the motion), the Committee passed a motion waiving the rules of order and changing the Committee to a sub-Ctee of Council with 16 members and a quorum of 9. It passed on a vote of 13 in favour and one opposed and the meeting proceeded after a short recess as a Sub-Committee of Council with a quorum of 9. I have asked for a copy of the City's Rules of Order but am wondering if in principle this would be a legitimate way to proceed. Members of the public had been expecting to speak to at least a quorum of full Council if that makes a difference.

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Our City Council was meeting as Committee of the Whole (COW) called to hear delegations from citizens on a major and controversial municipal project. The membership of COW is the same as for full Council - 24 members. Quorum for both is a majority or 13. Because of difficulties maintaining quorum (which was clearly stated as the only reason for the motion), the Committee passed a motion waiving the rules of order and changing the Committee to a sub-Ctee of Council with 16 members and a quorum of 9. It passed on a vote of 13 in favour and one opposed and the meeting proceeded after a short recess as a Sub-Committee of Council with a quorum of 9. I have asked for a copy of the City's Rules of Order but am wondering if in principle this would be a legitimate way to proceed. Members of the public had been expecting to speak to at least a quorum of full Council if that makes a difference.

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Our City Council was meeting as Committee of the Whole (COW) called to hear delegations from citizens on a major and controversial municipal project. The membership of COW is the same as for full Council - 24 members. Quorum for both is a majority or 13. Because of difficulties maintaining quorum (which was clearly stated as the only reason for the motion), the Committee passed a motion waiving the rules of order and changing the Committee to a sub-Ctee of Council with 16 members and a quorum of 9. It passed on a vote of 13 in favour and one opposed and the meeting proceeded after a short recess as a Sub-Committee of Council with a quorum of 9. I have asked for a copy of the City's Rules of Order but am wondering if in principle this would be a legitimate way to proceed. Members of the public had been expecting to speak to at least a quorum of full Council if that makes a difference.

It looks to me that the belief that it would do any good to try to go into a committee of the whole is psychotic gibberish buried in pseudo-parliamentary technobabble.

Also if the members of the public wanted to speak, I don't think Robert's Rules would prohibit it. -- Understanding that their speeches would have little to no significance, since there was no quorum. (Not that there would be any significance, under RONR,if their speeches had been made with a quorum present.)

And, um, I wish I knew what Joanna meant to add.

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the Committee passed a motion waiving the rules of order and changing the Committee to a sub-Ctee of Council with 16 members and a quorum of 9.

While it's possible that a board could create a (smaller) committee (with a smaller quorum), the board would then have to adjourn its meeting and the committee would have to call its own meeting to order. Needless to say, the committee would not enjoy the authority the bylaws give to the board.

Beyond that, I don't see what effect this would have on public input. If the public has a (non-RONR) right to address the board (i.e. the council), then addressing the committee won't do.

But maybe I'm missing something here.

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... Committee of the Whole (COW) called to hear delegations from citizens on a major and controversial municipal project.

... the Committee passed a motion waiving the rules of order and changing the Committee to a sub-committee of Council with 16 members and a quorum of 9.

It passed on a vote of 13 in favour and one opposed and the meeting proceeded after a short recess as a Sub-Committee of Council with a quorum of 9.

I have asked for a copy of the City's Rules of Order but am wondering if in principle this would be a legitimate way to proceed.

Members of the public had been expecting to speak to at least a quorum of full Council if that makes a difference.

That last sentence is a real kicker.

You don't need a quorum to hear from the public.

So this whole mess of "committees" juggling could have been finessed by just continuing the meeting in its quorumless state.

There's nothing wrong (i.e., it violates no rule of Robert's Rules of Order) to have a public comment (i.e., nonmember speech) ongoing without a quorum.

Indeed, one thing you can do without a quorum, and even without a meeting, is TALK.

Especially with NONMEMBERS.

Oh! And by the way: Without a quorum, you cannot create, un-create, or modify, a COMMITTEE.

So that is Kicker #2 in the whole deal.

Sheesh! :blink:

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...

Oh! And by the way: Without a quorum, you cannot create, un-create, or modify, a COMMITTEE.

So that is Kicker #2 in the whole deal.

...

Although the whole maneuver sounds convoluted and unnecessary, they apparently did have at least 14 people present (exceeding their normal quorum requirement) when the vote was taken:

...Quorum for both is a majority or 13....the Committee passed a motion waiving the rules of order and changing the Committee to a sub-Ctee of Council with 16 members and a quorum of 9. It passed on a vote of 13 in favour and one opposed...

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Although the whole maneuver sounds convoluted and unnecessary, they apparently did have at least 14 people present (exceeding their normal quorum requirement) when the vote was taken:

So? A Committee of the Whole has no power to create committees or suspend the rules. Be sure you're clear about what RONR (10th ed.), p. 516, ll. 4-12, says.

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So? A Committee of the Whole has no power to create committees or suspend the rules. Be sure you're clear about what RONR (10th ed.), p. 516, ll. 4-12, says.

I did not intend to contradict your earlier point regarding the powers of the committee of the whole. I was simply pointing out that the body DID have quorum. If the council wished to create a committee, they had the numbers to do that. They had the numbers to rise and return to the status of the assembly, and the council could then have created a committee. Presumably the council could then have adjourned its meeting, and the committee could have started a meeting of its own (called together by the committee chair, as described on p. 482).

I don't think one can argue that the assembly is stuck in its relatively powerless 'COW' ( :) ) incarnation for the entire meeting either, since RONR p. 517 ll. 30-31 says 'a committee of the whole cannot adjourn or recess, but must rise in order that the assembly may do so.'

Sure, some steps were skipped, and the use of recess doesn't make sense as a mechanism to go from a meeting of one body to a meeting of a different body:

...the meeting proceeded after a short recess as a Sub-Committee of Council...

However, from a parliamentary point of view, couldn't the council have achieved exactly the same end (leaving the confused public talking to a commitee rather than to the full council) by taking the proper steps, with exactly the same vote margins as described in the original post?

Despite the sloppy procedure, I don't see that there are any parliamentary grounds for complaint after the fact (especially if the improperly formed committee didn't DO anything)... unless there is some other rule or statute in play, perhaps guaranteeing the public a right to a hearing with the full council in this situation...

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However, from a parliamentary point of view, couldn't the council have achieved exactly the same end (leaving the confused public talking to a commitee rather than to the full council) by taking the proper steps, with exactly the same vote margins as described in the original post?

Despite the sloppy procedure, I don't see that there are any parliamentary grounds for complaint after the fact (especially if the improperly formed committee didn't DO anything)... unless there is some other rule or statute in play, perhaps guaranteeing the public a right to a hearing with the full council in this situation...

I think this sums it up very nicely. :)

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