Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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Business Meeting Commentary

I spent today doing as little as possible. Aside from going down to the BASFA meeting tonight and putting in a 6 km walk after breakfast, I napped, read e-mail, and mostly didn't do a bunch of the things I thought I'd get done this Labor Day weekend. I did, however turn in my marked-up draft of the WSFS Business Meeting minutes. I now have a somewhat better idea of what happened during the Pluto Motion, thanks to pmcmurray's note-taking.

You think I'm joking? When you're presiding, it's often very difficult to follow the parliamentary big picture, because you have to concentrate on the immediate situation. It wasn't until I went back through the meeting minutes that I could elaborate on why I did the things I did, in footnotes. (Assuming Pat agrees to leave them in.)

I made one ruling that is technically against the letter of one rule, and one ruling that was flat-out wrong. The first, IMO correct, ruling was to allow a motion for the Previous Question when there was no debate time left. WSFS rules say this motion (which shuts off the debate and the making of lower-ranked subsidiary motions) is out of order with less than one minute of debate time left. Well, zero is obviously less than one, but I've ruled that the intent of the rule is to prevent wasting debate time, but you can't waste debate time when there is none left; however, you can pester the meeting with undebatable subsidiary motions like Amend and Refer to Committee. Therefore, Previous Question has a substantive purpose, which is to shut off those subsidiary motions and bring the question to a vote. Besides, as I've observed in footnotes, the motion Suspend the Rules has the same vote requirement (2/3) as Previous Question, so one could move to Suspend the Rules and move the Previous Question anyway.

The one I didn't get right was a point of order raised that there had been no substantive debate on the Pluto motion, on account of all of the debate time had been used up by technical arguments and subsidiary motions. I ruled the point not well taken on account of the Previous Question having been ordered; however, there is a WSFS rule that says that in such cases we're suppose to allocate two minutes substantive debate to each side of the question. Well, I'm not sure how well I could have enforced this rule in light of the bloodthirsty mood some of the members were in, but I think I would have liked to have seen some actual debate instead of a twenty minute display of parliamentary gamesmanship.
Tags: wsfs business meeting

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