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Stotts requests rules on conducting meetings
Joseph Stotts.jpg
Stotts

Warren County commissioners will delve into guidelines for conducting meetings in an effort to prevent them from descending into mayhem as they have in the recent past. 

During Monday night’s Warren County Commission meeting, Commissioner Joseph Stotts suggested a new five-member Legislative Committee be set to begin establishing rules for conducting meetings and those guidelines be used to help prevent disagreements and disruptions during the decision-making process. 

“Having a formal set of bylaws and rules for this governing body is greatly needed,” he said. “This is in specific regards to the operation of this governing body and the specific functions and duties of all individual committees. Due to recent divisiveness that has permeated through this court and individual committee meetings specifically, I have done some research and homework on this issue.”

Discovered was a rules and regulations document passed by the commission in October of 2002 with a vote of 12 to 11. 

Stotts suggested that members of the committee review that document, update it and present a new one for its consideration with a motion to establish the committee and nominate/ appoint five commissioners to fill it. 

The motion received a second. It was followed by a motion to amend, a suggestion to change Stotts’ motion, and a motion to table.  

Commissioner Steven Helton made the motion to amend.

“Would we not need to approve this committee before taking nominations,” he said. “If we approve the committee and it passes, then, we can do nominations. It would avoid confusion. If it doesn’t pass, there’s no sense in doing nominations. I’d make an amendment that we remove or strike the nominations from his motion.”

The motion to amend received a second.

Stotts objected, “I would like to keep it one full motion, if we can. If we need to separate them, we can. I can simply restate the second. The first motion would be for the development of the committee, if we need to separate that. Nominate and appoint five commissioners would be the second motion.”

Commissioner Ron Lee suggested chairman on each of the county’s various committees appoint a member to the committee, so each is represented, rather than undergo a nomination process.

County Executive Jimmy Haley stated, “We do have a procedures committee that is made up of all the chairmen.”

Stotts objected to that change in his motion.

Commissioner Tommy Savage made the motion to table stating, “I might be out of order here, but I would like to make a motion to table this until next month. Our next year starts next month, and I would like to make a motion to table this for more discussion.”

His motion received a second. 

Commissioner Gary Prater objected.

“I don’t think we need to table this,” he said. “I think we need to come up with something now. I know what happens when we table things.”

Haley commented, “We haven’t even voted on the first motion yet.”

Stotts requested that his original motion, the first on the floor, be considered.

Haley requested guidance from Charles Curtiss, who is the Executive Director of Tennessee County Commissioners Associa-tion. 

“Once someone makes a motion to table, you must dispose of it first,” said Curtiss.

The motion to table failed 15-9. 

Against tabling the measure were Commissioners Michael Bell, Carl D. Bouldin, Randy England, Steve Glenn, Richard Grissom, Helton, Lori Judkins, Gary Martin, Prater, Scott Rubley, Tyrone Sparkman, Joseph Stotts, Phillip Stout, Cole Taylor and Blaine Wilcher, while Commissioners Carl E. Bouldin, Carlene Brown, David Dunlap, Deborah Evans, Robert Hennessee, Ron Lee, Daniel Owens, Christy Ross and Savage voted to table.

Stotts’ original motion passed 20-4. Against the measure were Commissioners Brown, Evans, Grissom and Ross. 

When the process to appoint commissioners started, Stotts was nominated.

Haley questioned how the vote should be taken – a roll call vote where each commissioner is polled individually or a collective “yea” or “nay” by all commissioners – and then selected collectively to save time. 

Stotts was unanimously appointed.

Carl D. Bouldin’s nomination and vote was unanimous.

Brown was nominated. At least two descending voices were heard.

“Do a roll call,” suggested Prater. 

Haley stated, “We didn’t do a roll call on the others. We’ll need to go back then and do a roll call on all of them. I think that might be a better solution. Let’s just take all the nominations. I want to retract this. Mr. Curtiss, if you’ll come back to the podium.”

Curtiss stated this disorderly way of conducting business is why setting rules to follow is necessary.

“This is the very reason that you need rules,” he said. “If you had rules, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”

Commissioners Stotts, Carl D. Bouldin, Brown, Owens, Rubley and Hennessee were nominated and agreed to serve. 

Each commissioner was allowed five “yes” votes. Hennessee was excluded. 

Curtiss gave advice on setting the guidelines. 

“If you have a five-member committee, that’s fine,” he said. “As they go through this, all of you need to have input in it. You don’t need to create a Bible. Four or five pages should be adequate.”

The county currently operates under Roberts Rules of Order, said Curtiss, and advised a limit be placed on how long each commission member can speak during meetings. 

“Under Robert’s Rules, each one of you has the right to speak two times, but you can’t speak the second time until everyone who wants to speak the first time gets to speak,” he said. “Next then, each one of you has got 10 minutes to talk, first and second time. Most people put in their local rules that you can only speak three minutes. I noticed your old rules, that he alluded to earlier, it says four minutes. You certainly don’t want to operate under pure Robert’s Rules or you’d be here all night. Local rules are good.”

The first meeting of the county’s Legislative Committee is set for Monday, Aug. 26 at 6 p.m. in the Early Voting Room at Warren County Administrative building on Locust Street.