|Changing Council Operating
Rules & Procedures
Councilors Object To "Mayor May I" Rule
Loveland - January 19, 2013
During Loveland's council off-site last year Mayor Cecil Gutierrez sought from his colleagues permission to revise the
operating rules and procedures for city council meetings. Like many thorny issues, the item was punted to staff to
later propose a solution while working with Mayor Gutierrez. Now, approximately one year later, staff provided
Gutierrez's proposed changes which de-emphasize Robert's Rules of Order (how the city council is supposed to
operate) and increase the mayor's discretionary authority.
Councilman Hugh McKean suggested the item be postponed until the council's next off-site on January 26, explaining
"because I think are things here that we need to actually talk about.....to pull individual things out of this as an
individual action items is going to be bloody"
Councilman Dave Clark commented, "It looks to me like this thing is designed to fix something that is broken, my
question is what's broken.....there are several things in there that are way too restrictive...."
Councilman Klassen added, "This item in my judgement does not rise to the importance of taking place at our
advance (off site meeting)." Mayor Gutierrez than suggested they postpone any discussion about the changes until a
later council study session complaining the off-site agenda is already too full.
While many of the proposed rules are fairly innocuous, Section X proposes to limit the freedom councilors have to
speak during meetings. The proposed text reads;
"A council member seeking to ask a question, to participate in the discussion, to make a comment or to make
a motion shall only do so after being first recognized by the Mayor."
One councilor told LovelandPolitics he believes Gutierrez is proposing this rule to prevent him from interrupting to
ask questions. However, the same councilor said he was elected to represent his constituents and in doing so
sometimes needs to ask questions of a person speaking before council without waiting half an hour when the topic
has passed for permission to speak.
After some discussion of when to revisit the apparently unpopular proposal, Councilman Phil Farley told the Mayor he
wanted to "call the question" and vote on a motion to delay the item to a later meeting. After some more discussion,
Farley said his motion (according to Robert's Rules) is not debatable. Gutierrez responded by saying they were just
debating it anyway while laughing.
The council voted to postpone the item to a study session (instead of adding it to the January 26, off-site agenda as
McKean first proposed). The council meets in "study sessions" every other week to hear from staff on more
complicated issues not requiring immediate action. Unlike a regular council meeting, no public comment is allowed at
study sessions nor does the council take any official actions.
While the council's current rules and procedures call for the use of Robert's Rules of Order in deciding legislation, this
city council only loosely adheres to those rules similar to past councils. According to Loveland City Attorney John
Duval, the proposed new rules are intended to reflect largely how the council currently operates with some
Courts have historically invalidated council decisions or ordinances when the council failed to follow its own rules or
procedures in passing an ordinance that was later challenged. According to one city staff member who was involved
in the process of developing the proposed rules, city legal staff fear the mayor's lack of familiarity with Roberts Rules
of Order may put city ordinances at risk if later challenged how the council deliberated. For example, the council
normally votes immediately after a motion is made since the debate usually takes place before anyone makes a motion.
In a legal challenge the court will normally look to the "deliberative" process used to arrive at a decision (especially
for quasi-judicial hearings) by the council. Technically, the deliberation cannot begin on a particular motion until after
the motion is made. Any court reviewing council proceedings would find no deliberations following motions since it
normally occurs first before many on council even know what the specific motion they are being asked to vote on is
Therefore, Duval is proposing relaxing the requirement the city council adhere to Robert's Rules of Orders while also
accommodating Mayor Gutierrez's desire that some colleagues be restricted from speaking freely at council meetings.
According to our source the city attorney doesn't expect the controversial Section X (see column at right) to pass in its
entirety. We were informed, "even Robert's Rules require anyone making a motion be first recognized by the
mayor but telling councilors they can't even ask a question before everyone has spoken is excessive control
nobody but the mayor probably supports."
|X. Council Questions,
Discussion and Comments
Except when making a point of order,
a councilmember seeking to ask a
question, to participate in the
discussion, to make a comment or to
make a motion shall only do so after
being first recognized by the Mayor.
No councilmember shall ask a
question, participate in the discussion
or make a comment on an item more
than once until all other
councilmembers have had an
opportunity to ask a question,
participate in the discussion or to
make a comment concerning that item.
The Mayor may limit or curtail
questions, participation and comments
as he or she deems necessary for the
fair, orderly or efficient conduct of the
Council’s business, except as
overridden by Council motion.
|Loveland City Council Top 3
Abuses of Robert's Rules of Order
1. Debating and discussing an issue
prior to a motion without suspending
the rules. The council may discuss an
item without a motion but only after
the rules are formerly suspended.
Loveland's City Council debates
issues and only makes a motion just
before voting. Under Roberts Rules
of Order, the motion and a second
are required before the body may
deliberate (discuss or debate) the
2. Asking the maker of a motion for
permission to amend the original
motion. Once a motion is made it no
longer belongs to the maker. If
anyone wants to propose an
amendment they need a second and
majority vote. It is not up to the
maker of the motion to only allow
friendly amendments but Loveland
councilors regularly seek permission
from the maker of the motion.
3. Point of Information abuse. A
Point of Information is not to provide
additional information from the one
making a point of information but the
contrary. The member asking for a
point of information is requesting
additional information from the chair.
|"...individual action items is
going to be bloody"
Councilman Hugh McKean
|"...there are several things in
there that are way too
Councilman Dave Clark
|See video clip of the council discussion
during their January 15, 2013 meeting