September 18th, 2013

Kevin 1994

WSFS History: The Chris Carrier Motions

The WSFS Business Meeting has a love affair with the otherwise obscure procedural motion "Objection to Consideration," which allows a 2/3 majority of the meeting to kill a motion without debate as long as they do it immediately after it comes to the floor. (It's only in order before debate starts or before the Chair states a subsidiary motion, such as a motion to Refer to Committee.) This motion only exists in Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised, not any of the other alternative rules manuals. If you read it closely, you find that it really isn't supposed to be used on just motions that are wildly unpopular or thought to have absolutely no chance of passing; however, WSFS (for other reasons) has ruled out some of the more useful procedural ways of weeding out its agenda, so OTC is all that's left. Because the motion is obscure, and because you have to interrupt business and be fairly rude in the way you introduce it, and because it's not debatable (you can't say why you're objecting), it has a tendency to act like a 16-ton weight dropped on the heads of newcomers who don't see it coming, leaving them sitting there gasping for air and saying, "What just happened?"

OTC is really supposed to be used on motions that are highly objectionable, to the extent that they could cause harm to the organization if they actually got to the floor. It's rare than an OTC has been used this way in WSFS, but it has happened, and I was on the head table (as Parliamentarian) when it happened, back in 1993.

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Now this is all ancient history to some folks; after all, it was twenty years ago, and besides, both Robert Sacks and Chris Carrier are now dead; however, it does show a case where Objection to Consideration was used properly, and it also it one of the reasons I'm reluctant to introduce any proposal that completely eliminates it such as the otherwise-plausible idea of making motions with sufficient co-sponsors immune from OTC.