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Thread: Questions about Town Meeting Rules

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
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    3

    Default Questions about Town Meeting Rules

    I have some questions about the rules of Town Meeting after last night, and I was hoping someone could explain some things for me.

    1) It seemed to me that same person brought up the same point of order a second time after the moderator ruled against it the first time. (We always tell our kids the ref is always right, even if he's wrong--is that the case here? Or can a ruling be appealed?) Is that legal? Or was it not the same point of order? Things were very confusing.

    2) If time dies on an article, can that article still be brought up for reconsideration at the end of Town Meeting? If an article is passed over, can it be reconsidered at the same Town Meeeting?

    Things were so murky last night, and this election session has been so divisive, that I hope going forward at least the rules will be clearer. I'd really like things to be voted up or down clearly on their merits. I think the moderator usually does a good job, but things got a little lost in the fog last night.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Wayland MA
    Posts
    1,431

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Mary Beth Finch View Post
    I have some questions about the rules of Town Meeting after last night, and I was hoping someone could explain some things for me.

    1) It seemed to me that same person brought up the same point of order a second time after the moderator ruled against it the first time. (We always tell our kids the ref is always right, even if he's wrong--is that the case here? Or can a ruling be appealed?) Is that legal? Or was it not the same point of order? Things were very confusing.
    All of my comments here are my understanding of the rules. Ultimately, the Moderator decides. With respect to points of order, a single person may raise the same point as many times as he/she likes. The Moderator may rule the same way each time, may change his/her mind, or may even refuse to recognize the person wishing to be heard.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mary Beth Finch View Post
    2) If time dies on an article, can that article still be brought up for reconsideration at the end of Town Meeting?
    Based on my understanding of the rules, yes. In fact, it can be brought up for reconsideration any time. Note that there's a distinction (or, at least, there used to be) between moving to reconsider before and after the disposal of an article (indicated by the Moderator's gavel).

    I think that a motion to reconsider before an article is disposed of requires a majority vote and is dealt with right away (this may no longer be the case--I don't see mention of it in the Moderator's Handbook or the Warrant, referenced below).

    After disposal, the motion can be made any time, but the discussion and vote on reconsideration (requiring a 2/3 vote) doesn't happen until all other articles have been handled. If the reconsideration motion passes, a new motion can then be made under the motion. The Moderator's Handbook (pp. 20-21) helps with some of this, as does the Warrant (pp. 79-80).

    Quote Originally Posted by Mary Beth Finch View Post
    If an article is passed over, can it be reconsidered at the same Town Meeeting?]
    I think that disposal by passage, failure, and being passed over are all the same with respect to reconsideration, so yes.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Posts
    1

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    1. You may be right: but if I recognize someone a second time, he or she “has the floor” and can raise a point of order a second time. My job is to rule on the point, which I was not prepared to do for some time last night. My rulings can not be appealed. See page 77 of the Warrant.

    2. Yes and yes. See paragraph IV C 10 of my Rules which begins at the bottom of page 79 of the Warrant.

    3. Things became murky, because I was unable, for some time, to rule on a variety of points of order as the time for debate wound down; a situation we had not experienced before, because the sixty minute time limit rule is relatively new and untested; but I finally made my rulings and the Selectmen’s truncated motion was finally voted upon the merits. I will try to do a better job of explaining things next time.

    C. Peter R. Gossels
    Moderator of the Town of Wayland

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Posts
    726

    Default For a more detailed response...

    Peter Gossels wrote a Guest Column in the Town Crier about Thursday's Town Meeting.

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