C00023 - GHD, Timely Minutes, too many meetings
Citizens Oversight (2009-12-05) Raymond Lutz
This Page: http://www.copswiki.org/Common/M914
(This topic is an email thread and is provided in reverse order, so read from the bottom up.)
Dear Mr. Jantz:
This topic will be called "C00023 - GHD, Timely Minutes, too many meetings" and can be found here:
We request that the draft minutes of the GHD be published on the GHD website in a timely manner, i.e. as soon as possible after the conclusion of a meeting (like within three days) so the public can review them prior to the generation of the agenda of the following meeting so that it is possible to reconsider an item.
We were provided with Rosenberg's Rules of Order
, which we understand are the rules of order in use by the GHD. According to that document,
The Motion to Reconsider
There is a special and unique motion
that requires a bit of explanation all by
itself: the motion to reconsider. A tenet
of parliamentary procedure is finality.
After vigorous discussion, debate and
a vote, there must be some closure to
the issue. And so, after a vote is taken,
the matter is deemed closed, subject
only to reopening if a proper motion
to reconsider is made.
A motion to reconsider requires a
majority vote to pass, but there are
two special rules that apply only to
the motion to reconsider.
First is the matter of timing. A motion
to reconsider must be made at the meeting
where the item was first voted upon
or at the very next meeting of the body.
A motion to reconsider made at a later
time is untimely. (The body, however,
can always vote to suspend the rules
and, by a two-thirds majority, allow a
motion to reconsider to be made at
Second, a motion to reconsider may be
made only by certain members of the
body. Accordingly, a motion to reconsider
may be made only by a member
who voted in the majority on the original
motion. If such a member has a
change of heart, he or she may make the
motion to reconsider (any other member
of the body may second the motion).
If a member who voted in the minority
seeks to make the motion to reconsider,
it must be ruled out of order. The purpose
of this rule is finality. If a member
of the minority could make a motion to
reconsider, then the item could be
brought back to the body again and
again, which would defeat the purpose
If the motion to reconsider passes, then
the original matter is back before the
body, and a new original motion is in
order. The matter may be discussed and
debated as if it were on the floor for the
In this respect, the Rosenberg Rules of Order do not differ from Robert's Rules of Order.
The rules of order unfortunately are not integrated with the rules of the Brown Act, which does not explicitly state whether an item to be reconsidered must appear in the agenda and posted for the public. I'm not sure but it seems logical that it is possible that a motion to reconsider may not be in the agenda as long as the item is simply approved for reconsideration at a future meeting. A good argument can be made that any item approved at one meeting may be reconsidered at the next, even if it does not appear on the agenda. But if so, the actual discussion and vote on the item should not be completed at that meeting but instead, should be scheduled for a future meeting so the public can be informed.
This would be comparable to the practice of briefly considering a request by the public during public comment to place an item on the agenda for a future meeting. As long as the body does not attempt to discuss the substance of the issue but instead only discuss whether it should appear on a future agenda, that discussion should logically be allowed.
In either case, it is necessary for the public to be aware of the outcome of any agenda item prior to the subsequent meeting so that any member of the public can discuss it with their elected representative and potentially get that board member to make a motion to reconsider. To facilitate public participation, the draft minutes of the meeting must be made public prior to the subsequent meeting. The current practice of publishing the minutes for two meetings at a time means that it is impossible to deal with the requirements of reconsidering agenda items by the public.
Furthermore, it is preferable to be able to place the possibility that any approved agenda item be reconsidered in the agenda so 1) the public will have a chance to be notified of the discussion to reconsider, and therefore be able to provide public comment on the decision, and 2) allow the actual consideration of the item to occur at that meeting. If this is not the case, it will simply delay the decision by another meeting, which is contrary to the general goal of finality.
Therefore, to allow the public to participate in the operation of the GHD Board, it is essential that the draft minutes be published as soon as possible after each physical meeting, perhaps within three business days after the conclusion of that meeting.
Citizens' Oversight Projects (COPs)
On 12/18/2009 8:12 AM, Barry Jantz (GHD) wrote:
As a follow up to my prior email (below) regarding the justification for two meetings per month, I also wanted to get back to you on the question of the timing for approval of the board meeting minutes.
I have reviewed this from both a legal standpoint and from the standpoint of that which best serves the public.
First, there is absolutely no legal requirement to publish the board meeting minutes of the prior meeting at the very next scheduled meeting. Further, there is nothing that precludes the board from changing the minutes based on public input at the meeting on the third Friday of the month, just as we have it scheduled now. Moreover, it has been our practice that a board member may ask for reconsideration of an item if they request it. Certainly, only a month’s time passing since a board action would not preclude a member of the board from requesting reconsideration of a matter.
As I noted in my prior email, the reason we now have two meetings per month is to allow the board an opportunity to concentrate on matters related to the Prop G Bond Projects at the meeting on the first Monday of the month. We have designated it as a regular meeting to honor the spirit of the Brown Act because we did not want to be in the position of scheduling too many special board meetings, which could be perceived as a means of not providing adequate notice to the public.
Not only are the board meetings on the first Monday of the month typically for the purpose of focusing on Prop G issues, historically they also are not as well attended by the public. Approving minutes at that meeting would allow less of an opportunity for public input and comment.
The current practice of approving minutes during the third Friday board meeting, which we have used for many years, is sound and allows the public the best opportunity to review and comment on all of the meeting minutes at one time.
Thanks again for your input on this subject. As indicated previously, I have shared your communication with the board members and will share this correspondence with them as well.
Please feel free to continue to contact me with any issues or concerns you may have.
>Date: Sun, 6 Dec 2009 00:38:21
>To: Raymond Lutz<firstname.lastname@example.org>
>Subject: Re: Lack of timely minutes; too many meetings
Thank you, this will go to the Board as well. The minutes process will be reviewed for any needed revisions.
On your second point, the justification for going to two meetings was and remains the volume of issues to consider in a timely manner related to GO bond construction, and the schedule delays and cost impacts that would easily result from waiting one month in between meetings.
When we have had a lack of agenda items, we have indeed cancelled meetings, and will do so in the future as may be warranted.
In determining to have two meetings per month, the board decided it was far better to notice the public of such, and cancel specific meetings when required, than have one regular meeting per month with several specially-called meetings in between.
Lastly, for each meeting the open session items listed may or may not completely reflect the necessity of having that particular meeting. The legally scheduled closed session items often dictate the need for timely meetings, sometimes with gravity far outweighing the few items that may be listed on the open agenda.
Again, I will share this with the board. Thanks again for addressing your input and concerns to us.
>From: Raymond Lutz
>To: Barry Jantz
>Subject: Lack of timely minutes; too many meetings
>Sent: Dec 5, 2009 3:51 PM
Dear Mr. Jantz:
Please copy this to the GHD Board.
Please publish the minutes of the meetings of the GHD in a timely
manner. Since you have now opted to have two regular meetings, it is
essential to have the minutes completed prior to the subsequent meeting
so that it is possible to raise an issue with our representatives, so
they can reconsider any issue completed at the prior meeting. Under
Robert's (and other popular) rules of order, it is not possible to
reconsider an issue beyond the current or immediately subsequent
meeting. If the minutes are not published, then it is impossible for a
board member, in response to advice from the public, to reconsider the
issue at the next meeting because the public will not have that
information available. Therefore, it is necessary for the (draft)
minutes to be published concurrently with the current agenda. Please
correct the current procedure.
Secondly, in looking at the recent volume of work for the board, I
recommend that the GHD discontinue having two meetings per month and
return to a single monthly meeting. Meetings are not free, and I feel
this is a misuse of public funds to continue to operate the meetings
without sufficient agenda items to warrant two meetings per month.
Perhaps you can draft a justification document that explains why it is
cost effective to operate twice a month as opposed to once per month.
Citizens' Oversight Projects (COPs)
Raymond Lutz, Coordinator
Citizens' Oversight Projects (COPs)
1265 Avocado Blvd, Suite 104 (#335)
El Cajon (San Diego Cty), CA 92020 USA