Finding # 11: Action item votes did not follow proper parliamentary procedure.
Building upon the amateurish behavior outlined in the previous finding, we continue the exploration into proper conduct while sitting in the seat of official power.
When I use the word amateurish, I really performed a disservice to anyone who has ever done something the first time … in an amateur kind of way.
Therefore, I apologize to Dennis Shingledecker for throwing him in the mix. Dennis, is actually the only member of the trio who has no previous “parliamentary experience”. Unfortunately for Dennis, he is surrounded by seasoned politicians who have lately become better known for their disdain for the rule of order and common decency in the public interactions from the dais. Ed MacKay has been on the RCSD board previously (for 8 years in the 1990s) and Olaf Landsgaard served on the school board and on the Rosamond Municipal Advisory Board for a combined 7 years; therefore, I contend that this finding highlights their contempt for the rules.
What do rules for parliamentary procedure do for us?
To which rules am I referring? In this case, Roberts Rules of Order Newly Revised, 11th edition.
“The application of parliamentary law is the best method yet devised to enable assemblies of any size, with due regard for every member’s opinion, to arrive at the general will on the maximum number of questions of varying complexity in a minimum amount of time and under all kinds of internal climate ranging from total harmony to hardened or impassioned division of opinion. (Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised)”
“Roberts Rules” covers every aspect of parliamentary functions. Let’s briefly look at how motions are to be seconded. When “Seconding Motions. As a general rule, with the exceptions given below, every motion should be seconded. This is to prevent time being consumed in considering a question that only one person favors, and consequently little attention is paid to it in routine motions. When the chair is certain the motion meets with general favor, and yet members are slow about seconding it, he may proceed without waiting for a second. Yet, any one may make a point of order that the motion has not been seconded, and then the chair is obliged to proceed formally and call for a second.
The preferred method is when a motion is not at once seconded, is for the chair to ask, “Is the motion seconded?” In a very large hall the chair should repeat the motion before calling for a second in order that all may hear. After a motion has been made no other motion is in order until the chair has stated the question on this motion, or has declared, after a reasonable opportunity has been given for a second, that the motion has not been seconded, or has ruled it out of order.
Except in very small assemblies the chair cannot assume that members know what the motion is and that it has not been seconded, unless he states the facts. A motion is seconded by a member’s saying “I second the motion,” or “I second it,” which he does without obtaining the floor, and in small assemblies without rising.”
Here’s how it typically goes at a Rosamond Community Services District Board Meeting, when an item is up Ed will look at Olaf and ask, “do you want to make a motion?”, and then say to Dennis or Al “are you going to second that?” So in effect ignoring the stated rule above and essentially placing words into each other’s mouths sometimes.
I realize this seems petty, evidently the grand jury didn’t think so. It’s a finding, that’s why we are talking about it.
While Roberts doesn’t really address recusal of one’s self from voting, it does state “It is a general rule that no one can vote on a question in which he has a direct personal or pecuniary interest.” Roberts also goes on to state, “A sense of delicacy usually prevents a member from exercising this right of voting in matters affecting himself except where his vote might affect the result.”
In actuality, this places the responsibility to recuse one’s self at the internal moral compass held by the person who should take the recusal action. In this case, I am unaware of any instance of any member of this group ever exercising their moral compass in the board room. Now for an example of the Board ignoring the parliamentary procedures.
Background: In a meeting on December 8, 2014, John Gibson was fired when the meeting was called to order. Mr. Perez was in the conference room, Mr. Glennan stood up and declared that meeting was illegal and left the Dias and sat with the audience. Mr. Wallis then got up and joined him in the audience leaving the three new board members up there alone. Mr. Landsgaard gave detailed instructions about John Gibson and at Olaf’s direction, the other rookie members, voted to fire him.
The event: On December 10, 2014 there were two agendas, the one they wrote on Sunday, December 7, 2014 and the official one posted by the RCSD on Thursday, December 4th. It was during this meeting that there was more discussion concerning Attorney, John Gibson and the status of General Manager, Steve Perez. At this meeting Mr. Landsgaard, made all of the comments he wanted to make and then (at the advice of his well-paid, attorney, he left the room). His attorney, Alison Burns, was in the audience on both days at the invitation of the Mr. Landsgaard; even though she had not yet been retained as legal counsel; she was giving legal advice from the audience on the 8th. This was the very meeting that she gave her opinion that the meeting was “NOT illegal”.
Furthermore, on December 10, 2014 she gave an opinion on the two agendas and she advised Olaf to “recuse himself”, which he did; but not before rendering his opinion and motion recommendations to the remaining members of the trio and Mr. Wallis. The in turn voted exactly as instructed by Mr. Landsgaard.
From what you have read; if you have come to the inquiring conclusion of, “How can you screw up something as simple as Roberts Rules of Order…what else remains?”
For more information on Roberts Rules of Order, here’s a link: http://www.rulesonline.com/
====================== Finding # 11 states: “Action item votes did not follow proper parliamentary procedure.”
The RCSD’s official response to Finding # 11: “The Board is without sufficient information by which to ascertain the action items to which the Report refers and, on that basis, disagrees with this finding. The Board notes that the Report is unclear as to the date, time and participants relating to the alleged improper parliamentary procedure. The Board notes that on June 4, 2015 all directors participated in a parliamentary procedure course.”
To read the next section click here: The Midnight Writings: Finding 12 – “Distract and Disenfranchise”