In the wake of July’s chaotic Warren County Commission meeting, county officials are working to create guidelines to help control meeting behavior.
A new committee has been formed for this purpose called the Legislative Committee. Members are Joseph Stotts, Carl D. Bouldin, Carlene Brown, Daniel Owens and Robert Hennessee.
They have met once to begin reviewing a resolution that regulates conduct during committee meetings and full County Commis-sion meetings.
The resolution has 17 rules and members reviewed the first four during their first two-hour session.
Current rules governing commissioners:
• They have the right to address the chairperson and the board at any appropriate time after raising a hand and being recognized by the chairperson.
• Commissioners must rise to speak, unless unable to do so.
• Comments should be limited to four minutes.
• Commissioners are allowed to speak twice on any one topic.
• After speaking once, the commissioner must wait until everyone has been allowed to speak once before speaking again.
• Commissioners should not be interrupted, unless they agree to yield to a question.
• Comments must be confined strictly to the question under debate.
• Personalities should be avoided.
Stotts said commissioners should pay close attention to avoiding personalities and restricting comments to the topic.
“Obviously this is in here for a reason so we’ll stay on topic,” said Stotts. “If emotions get too high, then we forget what we’re even talking about.”
Bouldin stated, “We don’t have to agree on every subject, but we need to stay civil.”
The resolution provides any member of the commission the authority to call for a point of order, an objection to misbehaviors or violations of the rules by another member. When that objection is made, the individual speaking must immediately sit down and wait for a ruling by chairman Jimmy Haley.
“The chairperson has just got to take control,” said Brown.
Stotts replied, “During the tax vote, I attempted to call point of order at least three to four occasions during multiple exchanges that I felt like things were getting out of hand and I was not recognized. I was eventually recognized about five or 10 minutes later. What I’m saying is we need to work on that and make sure we are recognizing points of order.”
Added Brown, “We need to educate the chairman on what the policies are and make sure he understands it.”
Legislative Committee members verbally agreed commissioners calling for a point of order should stand, rather than raise a hand. The act of standing would make sure they are recognized and their objection ruled upon.
“Any member may stand and call to order,” said Brown. “The member who has been called to order is supposed to sit down. Then, the chairperson will determine what he’s going to do.”
Legislative Committee members added an appeals process. If the individual called to order does not agree with the chairman’s ruling, he or she may call for a majority vote of the commission to decide the appeal.
Originally appointed to the Legislative Committee was Scott Rubley, not Hennessee. After a recount by County Court Clerk Lesa Scott, it was discovered a miscalculation when the votes were tallied during the selection process by the Warren County Commission on Aug. 19.
Among other business conducted by the new committee, Brown was named chair, Stotts vice chair and Owens secretary. Its next meeting is scheduled for Monday, Sept. 9, at 6 p.m.