Last week, Inweekly asked Pensacola City Attorney Lysia Bowling for an opinion on Councilman Larry Johnson’s recommendation for the Community Redevelopment Agency to reconsider its August action that rejected all RFPs submitted for the Hawkshaw property on South Ninth Avenue.
Councilman Johnson had written a viewpoint on the his recommendation, and the daily newspaper had a feature article on it.
Inweekly questioned whether the council’s policies allowed the councilman to make the recommendation, since he had voted against the August action.
Here is our Wednesday, Sept. 9 email:
According to Robert’s Rules of Order, motions that have been voted on can only be brought for reconsideration by “one on the prevailing side who has changed position or view.”
Councilman Larry Johnson has placed on the agenda for next Monday’s CRA meeting a recommendation that the CRA board to reconsider the action taken on August 17 – 091415CRAa. Johnson was not on the prevailing side. He voted against the winning motion to reject all the proposals for Hawkshaw, along with Andy Terhaar and Jewel Cannada-Wynn.
Maybe the CRA doesn’t follow Robert’s Rules. Ms. Bowling, could you confirm whether Councilman Johnson’s reconsideration item is a valid recommendation?
We never received a reply from Ms. Bowling. However, a new CRA agenda was sent out after 5 p.m. on Friday. Councilman Johnson’s recommendation was no longer on the agenda. See 091415CRA_amended.
Note: This isn’t the first time the newspaper has asked Ms. Bowling for clarification on an issue and not received a reply. In July, we asked her about Planning Board member Scott Sallis voting on his client’s project. Ms. Bowling didn’t reply but two weeks later Sallis submitted a voting conflict form to the state ethics commission, and the planning board announced a voting policy at its next meeting.
On Sunday morning, we received an email from Councilman Johnson. Special Liaison Rusty Wells, who served as city attorney under the city manager form of government, had investigated the matter.
Wells agreed that a motion to reconsider could only be made by someone on the prevailing side. However, he said that a motion to rescind or amend is possible from any council member at subsequent meetings. Or, if the chairman allows it, a motion to renew could be made.
Subject: Rules of Procedure – Considering Issues Previously Decided
President Terhaar and Members of City Council –
Several recent agenda items have generated inquiries and discussion of the application of the Council’s Rules and Procedures, and Robert’s Rules of Order to situations where a member may wish to revisit an issue that has previously been voted upon and decided by the Council. This brief summary is intended to give some guidance on that subject, for your convenience.
When an issue has been moved, seconded and voted upon, it has been decided by either passing or failing. If a member of Council (or the CRA) wishes to have the issue considered again, these are the principal options:
1. At the same meeting on the same day –
– Both the Council’s Rules (Section 1.14) and Robert’s Rules permit a Motion to Reconsider, but it can only be made by a member who voted on the “prevailing” side. A member who was not on the prevailing side may take the floor and urge his/her fellow members to reconsider the previous vote and may request that a member on the prevailing side make the motion to reconsider. The parliamentary rule publishers state that a motion to reconsider is an American addition to the original Robert’s Rules of Order, and that it is intended to rectify an action taken in haste or based upon a mistaken fact or circumstance – that is why it is limited to being made on the day that the previous action was taken, so that it may be corrected without undue delay. It is further limited to being made by a member on the prevailing side to prevent a member in the minority from raising it repeatedly. It may only be made once at the same meeting.
– Robert’s Rules permit any member to make a Motion to Rescind (also referred to as a motion to repeal or annul) a previous action. There is no restriction on who may make this motion or when it may be made. Its effect is to cancel or countermand a previous action or order. If notice of an intent to make the motion was given at a previous meeting or appears in the published agenda of the current meeting, the motion only requires a majority to pass. If no such notice was given, the motion requires a 2/3 majority (6 votes) to pass. However, the motion cannot be used to reverse something that is not possible to undo, or to reverse a resignation, an election or an expulsion.
– Robert’s Rules also permit a variation of the Motion to Rescind, which is a Motion to Amend Something Previously Adopted. It has the same characteristics as the motion to rescind, and it is used to substitute a different version of what was previously adopted, or to alter only a part of it.
2. At a subsequent meeting –
– Motion to Rescind (see above)
– Motion to Amend Something Previously Adopted (see above).
– If a motion failed in a prior meeting, any member may make a Motion to Renew at any subsequent meeting, unless there is a specific rule preventing a motion to renew (as previously existed in Council’s Rules and Procedures). The principal limitation on making motions to renew is the power and authority of the Chair to prevent dilatory tactics by ruling such a motion out of order or improper. The Chair’s ruling is, of course, subject to appeal and may be overruled by the Council.
These are the principal motions and limitations available under the Council’s Rules and Procedures and Robert’s Rules, which have been adopted by Council and the CRA. Additional items to be mentioned are that in the event an issue has been voted upon at a prior meeting, and in retrospect it is believed to have been improper or out of order, the Council’s Rules allow it to remain decided if it was lawful and clear (see Sec. 1.11), and that the Council may choose to waive its rules at any time by a 5-vote majority (see Sec. 2.09).
If any member requires any further input on this subject, please do not hesitate to contact the Office of the City Council.
William D. Wells
Assistant City Attorney – Special Liaison
This explains why Councilman Johnson’s recommendation to reconsider disappeared from the CRA agenda.
The Hawkshaw property will still be discussed today. Councilman Andy Terhaar has added a discussion item on the sale of the Hawkshaw property. He wants to sale the property to the highest bidder willing to meet the development requirements of the Gateway District.
In regards to Councilman Johnson’s motion, the question remains how did it even get on the CRA agenda. Had Wells, Bowling and City Administrator Eric Olson reviewed the agenda and the proposed recommendations, they could have helped the councilman draft the proper recommendation and save him this embarrassment.
Council President Andy Terhaar needs to meet with the mayor’s office and walk through the review process for the agendas for both council and CRA meetings to avoid further miscues in the future.