Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

Mayor Himmelrich Quashes A Motion Critical of Her Meeting Misconduct

Mayor Sue Himmelrich, with the assistance of new City Attorney Doug Sloan, refused to allow a vote on a motion by Councilmember Oscar de la Torre at last night's City Council meeting. The kicker? De la Torre's motion was an attempt to address Mayor Himmelrich's regular and significant violations of parliamentary procedure, which hinder efficient, effective, and fair City Council meetings.

De la Torre raised a question of privilege affecting the assembly:

In the spirit of improving our meeting protocols and governance, I want to raise a few concerns and offer some solutions.

The City Council has endured some conflicts, you know, in terms of how we run our meetings, and so the presiding officer's responsibilities to adhere to parliamentary procedure as required by City Resolution 11360, which outlines City Council meeting rules of order and procedure.

This is not just a technicality. A proper parliamentary procedure is critical to having smooth, efficient, and fair meetings. Robert's Rules require the presiding officer to:

- clarify and restate motions immediately after they are seconded

- allow all other Councilmembers to speak before adding her own opinion

- give the floor to individual speakers in turn, and

- prevent back and forth discussion.

The presiding officer's regular procedural violations have prevented Councilmembers from:

- speaking

- having equal access to the floor

- making motions

- addressing motions that have been made, and

- knowing precisely what they're voting on.

These breaches:

- unduly influence deliberations

- unnecessarily prolong our meetings

- prevent equal participation of all Councilmembers in discussion, and

- interfere with the democratic governance of the city.

Therefore, I have a request and a motion.

I request that the City Attorney commit to vigilantly monitor City Council meetings and intervene as often as necessary to ensure City Council adherence to Robert's Rules of Order and to protect the rights of all City Councilmembers.

And because:

- Almost everybody on the council is fairly new

- Soon there will be at least two new Councilmembers

- We want to create healthier habits and equip Councilmembers to adhere to parliamentary procedure

- And it can simply and effectively shorten our meetings, I hope,

I move that the City Manager or City Attorney arrange for all Councilmembers to receive a crash course of training in Robert's Rules of Order by a professional parliamentarian within 30 days, in a public forum that is broadcast live by video so everyone-including residents and board and commission members-can learn from it.

After the City Attorney advised to agendize the motion for a future meeting, Councilmember de la Torre stated he would make sure to bring it back.

This was the second time in two weeks that Mayor Himmelrich prevented Councilmember de la Torre from making a motion at a City Council meeting.

Editor's Note:

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Reader Comments(1)

Samo writes:

Headline should read: “De La Torre makes two attempts to violate the Brown Act in Tues Council Meeting”