Joe Levi:
a cross-discipline, multi-dimensional problem solver who thinks outside the box – but within reality™

Severe Problems with Syracuse City's newly proposed "rules"

Apparently I was correct regarding Syracuse’s apparent lack of Rules of Order and Procedure.
That said, there are some problems with Resolution No. R11-33:
  1. The resolution is titled wrong. According to Utah Code 10-3-606 a legislative body “shall adopt rules of order and procedure to govern a public meeting of the legislative body”. As such, this resolution should be entitled “A resolution of the Syracuse City Council adopting Rules of Order and Procedure to govern public meetings of the legislative body“. Bylaws have nothing to do with the State regulation, and the State law provides that these rules only apply to “public meetings”.
  2. The first WHEREAS, after “operation of the City to” should be replaced to read “adopt Rules of Order and Procedure to govern public meetings of the legislative body; and
  3. The second WHEREAS, after “have reviewed the attached” should be replaced with “Rules of Order and Procedure and desire to adopt the same;
  4. Section 1 should be changed to read “Adoption. The Rules of Order and Procedure attached hereto as Exhibit ‘A,’ and incorporated herein by reference are hereby adopted by Syracuse City.
There are also SERIOUS problems with the Rules mentioned in the “Exhibit A”:
  1. These are not supposed to be “Bylaws and Rules of Procedure”, under Utah Law they are supposed to be “Rules of Order and Procedure to govern public meetings of the legislative body”.
  2. The “Purpose” of the rules provides that the rules are non-binding because “nothing in these rules shall be interpreted to provide [a] basis for invalidating or in any way altering a final decision of the Council”… in other words, the Council isn’t bound to follow their own rules since the Public has no recourse should they break them. This makes the rest of the rules moot.
  3. 2A: Why is the role of Mayor being defined in the rules? It’s already defined in Syracuse Municipal Code 2.03.010 which has an ENTIRELY different definition. In fact, this “new” definition says the Mayor is the “chief legislative [and] judicial […] officer for the city. She’s the chief law maker and the chief law enforcer? That’s a conflict of interest and violated the “separation of powers” that we have in higher governments. This entire section should be stricken.
  4. 2B. Again, duties of the Mayor are defined in 2.03.010. This section should be stricken.
  5. 2C. Mayor Pro Tempore is defined in 2.03.030. This section should be stricken.
  6. 2D. City Recorder is defined in 2.05.070. This section should be stricken.
  7. 3. Duties of City Councilmembers are defined in Chapter 2. This section should be stricken.
  8. 3F, Decorum should be promoted to an actual “rule”. Additionally, why was the Mayor excluded from this rule?
  9. Much of section 4 is covered in 2.02.030, and redundant items should be removed from the “rules”.
  10. 4D contains a typo “members of the Council is the business of the City requires it”. “IS” should be “IF”, but “business of the City” isn’t defined anywhere. Also, the circumstances that trigger the “requires” clause are not listed or defined.
  11. 4H, a quorum is defined by 2.02.090. This section should be stricken.
  12. 4I effectively restricts the Citizen’s ability to address the Council for any item not on the agenda. Councilmembers Kimmel, Ocana, Shingleton, and Clark all mentioned they were against this during the last Special Meeting of the City Council. Also, “groups” are not defined and the Mayor is given the power to restrict these “groups” to only one spokesperson, and in turn restrict that person’s time limit, this is nothing more than a power-grab to allow the Mayor to silence concerned citizen’s voices from being heard in public meetings of the legislative body. This section should be stricken.
  13. 4I also violates Utah 10-3-608 that says a person can only be removed by a two-thirds vote of the governing body. As such, this provision of this section is blatantly unlawful and MUST be removed.
  14. 4J says the Council can circumvent prior notice by invoking “additional guidelines as necessary”. This section essentially nullifies these rules by allowing the Council to come up with their own rules outside a formal resolution. This section should be stricken since we already have in place a method to change rules, regulations, and ordinances.
  15. 5Aiii is confusing. Why should all motions “be repeated at the direction of the Mayor”? Does this imply that if the Mayor does not direct a motion be repeated that it has not been recognized and won’t be considered? It seems that way to me.
  16. 5B doesn’t say who must second a motion. It allows the Mayor to second a motion. It also allows a member of the audience to second a motion. It does not refer back to 5A.
  17. 5C essentially says that a Motion that has not been stated by the Mayor or read by the City Recorder isn’t recognized, and allows “selective deafness” to defeat motions and (to use the Mayors words) “hold the meeting hostage”.
  18. Why is there no mention of debate on the motion? Why is there no mention of “calling the question” to move to the final vote?
  19. 6B should defer to 2.02.100(3) regarding how and when the Mayor shall or shall not vote.
  20. 6C requires that “members declaring a conflict of interest […] shall leave the room”. Although with holding from discussion or final vote may be appropriate, forcing the declarant to leave the room is not appropriate, and since the member is a member of the public, under Utah Law (previously cited) they can only be removed by a 2/3 vote, NOT by a provision in “rules of order”. Since this provision is unlawful, it should be removed.
And lastly, how much money has been spent drafting, discussing, and modifying these rules? Please include attorney time, staff time, councilmember and Mayoral time, and printing costs in this figure.
Now, with the budget shortfall the City finds itself in, why didn’t you just adopt Robert’s Rules of Order, which would have taken all of 5 minutes, and brought the city in-line with what both the State and Federal governments have already done? Doing so would have saved all that money.

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