Notes I use to prepare opening remarks and reminders for town meetings:
1. INTRODUCTION OF DIGNITARIES AND NEW TOWN OFFICIALS: (if any)
2. MOMENT OF SILENCE IN REMEMBERANCE OF:
List those who have served the Town and passed away since the most recent town meeting.
A. Nights scheduled: (list available dates)
B. Hope to be able to recess for night at 10:30 PM depending on start time.
Will not take up new business after 10:15 unless it will save an extra night.
C. Conflict articles: (substitute will be elected in accordance with charter)
(List of any articles for which recusal is required.)
D. Consent calendar articles: (list, if any)
E. Large Type and Audio Warrants available.
4. QUORUM Voters; Requirement is: ______(__________ registered voters); Count is:
Note: This is required by Charter.)
5. IF an ANNUAL and simultaneous SPECIAL Town Meeting are called for the same time
- PROCEDURE WILL BE:
A. Call annual towm meeting to order;
B. Recess the annual meeting "until conclusion of special";
C. Call special towm meeting to order;
D. Conduct special meeting;
E. Recess the special "sine die" (final adjournment); and
F. Conduct annual (consent calendar first).
5. PROCEDURAL NOTES & REMINDERS:
A. Please turn off all cell phone ringers; If you must use your phone, please do so in the lobby.
B. A summary of procedural rules has been prepared in accordance with the Charter and is in the warrant. In doing so an attempt has been made to balance two competing objectives: to be as complete as possible; and to be as concise as possible so that the summary will be a useful reference at town meeting. As a result, some of the less commonly occurring exceptions to the general rule have been omitted. If you are in doubt on a specific point you should consult the primary sources of authority: the Massachusetts General Laws; the Wellfleet Charter; and Roberts Rules of Order.
C. A reminder about the scope of permissible action under the last article. It is only for the extremely limited purpose of taking "non final" actions, examples of which are the creation of study committees and requests to town boards to bring matters before future town meetings. Policy statements, "sense of the meeting" or "sense of the Town of Wellfleet" type resolutions and such are not appropriate since the taking of such an action without inclusion of the subject matter in the warrant infringes the right of absentees to be informed of the nature of business to be transacted at the meeting.
D. Please keep your voter identification tag. Without the tag you will not be able to obtain a ballot for any votes taken by secret ballot and the Chair may not recognize you to speak. On standing counts the tellers are instructed to count voter cards; an arm raised without the card will not be counted.
E. To be recognized you must call "Mr. Moderator" when the floor is free. You must be at a microphone unless physical conditions make this difficult for you, in which case raise your hand which will make you more visible to the Chair.
F. If the Chair has not recognized you by name you must state your name at the beginning of your remarks. You may not speak without being recognized except to raise a point of order or point of personal privilege.
G. A POINT OF ORDER is a challenge to the legality of the proceedings. It must be made at the time of the infraction to which the point of order relates. You may interrupt a speaker to raise a point of order. You rise, and, without being recognized, state "Point of Order Mr. Moderator". The chair will ask you to state your point of order and will then rule on it. The ruling of the Chair is final. Points of order fall into the following general categories:
(a) Is the speaker entitled to the floor? (That is has he been properly recognized, exceeded his time limit, spoken to many times etc.?);
(b) Are the speaker's remarks relevant to the issue and within the bounds of decorum; and
(c) Is the motion proposed proper? (That is within the scope of the article, properly made and seconded, and consistent with any pending motions?)
H. A POINT OF PERSONAL PRIVILEGE is a means to bring matters of immediate importance to the attention of the Chair such as fire, inability to hear the speaker, announcement of a Police Officer, etc. To raise a point of personal privilege rise and state "Point of Personal Privilege, Mr. Moderator, I cannot hear the speaker." etc.
I. MOTIONS, including all amendments must be in writing and legible. I may make exceptions for very simple motions.
J. The PREVIOUS QUESTION is the method used to terminate all debate and vote immediately on the pending motion. The motion is "I move the previous question". It may not interrupt the speaker and may only be made after you have been recognized. It is not debatable and requires a 2/3 vote. Shouts of "Question" from the audience will be ignored by the Chair. Bear in mind it may be necessary to take a count to establish whether the motion passes; this may be more time consuming than allowing one or two more speakers.
K. RECONSIDERATION. A motion to reconsider must be made on the same night as the vote for which reconsideration is sought, after some intervening business (such as calling the next article), and within one hour of the vote to be reconsidered. It may only be made once. It may be made by anyone regardless of how they voted on the earlier motion. Action on the motion to reconsider can be deferred to a later time.
L. DEBATE You must speak to the issues. You may not make personal remarks about others or impugn their motives. Except for the petitioner and certain town officials you may only speak twice to a motion and your comments are limited to 10 minutes each time. All questions must be addressed through the chair. If you do so you do not lose the floor and the answer is part of your speaking time.
M. FIX THE MANNER OF VOTING. Voting is normally by voice vote unless the governing statute requires a 2/3 or greater vote in which case a standing count must be taken on all except unanimous votes. To take a secret ballot a motion to "vote by secret ballot" must be made and requires a majority vote. Any voter may request that a standing count be taken if the result of a voice vote is doubted.
N. Motions to Table will be discouraged. These motions are not debatable. They are generally inappropriate in a Town Meeting setting because, unlike a motion to indefinitely postpone, they can effectively kill an article without debate. The Chair has the power to decline to accept a motion to table if apparently made for such a purpose. The only exception to the general rule is a motion to table UNTIL A SPECIFIED TIME. Such a motion might be made to delay action on an article until an essential person (e. g. architect etc.) can be present, etc.
6. PRINCIPAL CHARTER DIFFERENCES FROM ROBERTS RULES OF ORDER:
A. Motion to reconsider discussed previously (J.);
B. Advance, postpone or otherwise take an article out of order requires a 2/3 vote;
C. Substitute moderators are to be elected rather than appointed; and
D. Articles lacking the recommendation of the appropriate board under section 2-7-3 of the charter require a 2/3 vote to be acted upon. Please note that the Chair regards a deadlock on the part of the appropriate board as the equivalent of a negative recommendation, thereby fulfilling the requirements of the Charter.
7. RULE OF THE MEETING: Robert's permits speakers to speak for 10 minutes. I ask unanimous consent for a rule of the meeting limiting debate to five minutes per speaker.