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Rosenberg's , <br />Parliamentary <br />Procedures for the 21st <br />he rules of procedure at meetings <br />;f should be simple enough for most <br />people to understand. Unfortunately, <br />that hasn't always been the case. Virtu- <br />ally all clubs, associations, boards, coun- <br />cils and bodies follow a set of rules, <br />Roberts Rules of Order, which are em- <br />bodied in a small but complex book. <br />Virtually no one I know has actually <br />read this book cover to cover. <br />Worse yet, the book was written for <br />another time and purpose. If you are <br />running the British Parliament, Roberts <br />Rules of Order is a dandy and quite use- <br />d handbook. On the other hand, if <br />you're running a meeting of a five - <br />member body with a few members of <br />the public in attendance, a simplified <br />version of the rules of parliamentary <br />procedure is in order. Hence, the birth <br />of "Rosenberg's Rules of Order." <br />This publication covers the rules of <br />parliamentary procedure based on my <br />20 years of experience chairing meetings <br />in state and local government. These <br />rules have been simplified and slimmed <br />down for 21st century meetings, yet <br />they retain the basic tenets of order to <br />which we are accustomed. <br />"Rosenbergs Rules of Order" are sup- <br />ported by the following four principles: <br />1. Rules should establish order. The <br />first purpose of the rules of parlia- <br />mentary procedure is to establish a <br />framework for the orderly conduct <br />of meetings. <br />2. Rules should be clear. Simple rules <br />lead to wider understanding and <br />participation. Complex rules create <br />two classes: those who understand <br />and participate and those who do <br />not filly understand and do not <br />fully participate. <br />3. Rules should be user. -friendly. That <br />is, the rules must be simple enough <br />that citizens feel they have been able <br />to participate in the process. <br />4. Rules should enforce the will of <br />the majority while protecting the <br />rights of the minority. The ultimate <br />purpose of the rules of procedure is <br />to encourage discussion and to facili- <br />tate decision-making by the body. In <br />a democracy, the majority rules. The <br />rules must enable the majority to <br />express itself and fashion a result, <br />while permitting the minority to also <br />express itself (but not dominate) and <br />fully participate in the process. <br />The Chairperson Should Take a <br />Back Seat During Discussions <br />While all members of the governing <br />body should know and understand the <br />rules of parliamentary procedure, it is <br />the chairperson (chair) who is charged <br />with applying the rules of conduct. <br />The chair should be well versed in those <br />There are exceptions to the general rule of free <br />and open debate on motions. The exceptions all <br />apply when there is a desire to move on. <br />by Dave Rosenberg <br />rules, because the chair, for all intents <br />and purposes, makes the final ruling on <br />the rules. In fact, all decisions by the <br />chair are final unless overruled by the <br />governing body itself. <br />Because the chair conducts the meeting, <br />it is common courtesy for the chair to <br />take a less active role than other mem- <br />bers of the body in debates and discus- <br />sions. This does not mean that the chair <br />should not participate in the debate or <br />discussion. On the contrary, as a mem- <br />ber of the body, the chair has full rights <br />to participate in debates, discussions <br />and decision-making. The chair should, <br />however, strive to be the last to speak at <br />the discussion and debate stage, and <br />should not make or second a motion <br />unless he or she is convinced that no <br />other member of the body will do so. <br />The Basic Format for an <br />Agenda Item Discussion <br />Formal meetings normally have a written, <br />published agenda; informal meetings <br />may have only an oral or understood <br />agenda. In either case, the meeting is <br />governed by the agenda and the agenda <br />constitutes the body's agreed-upon road <br />map for the meeting. And each agenda <br />item can be handled by the chair in the <br />following basic format. <br />First, the chair should clearly announce <br />the agenda item number and should <br />clearly state what the subject is. The <br />chair should then announce the format <br />that will be followed. <br />Second, following that agenda format, <br />the chair should invite the appropriate <br />people to report on the item, including <br />any recommendation they might have. <br />The appropriate person may be the <br />chair, a member of the governing body, <br />