Updates given on water and wastewater projectsIn the infrastructure department, the council received an update regarding the ongoing water and wastewater project. Mark Bingham from Chastain and Associates provided updates on the Phase 1 project on the sanitary sewer system. Bingham would reveal an estimate for project completion for late August or September. Plans to start Phase 2 of the project should start in the spring of 2022. Those plans includes construction of a new water plant. As sirens are crucial infrastructure for emergency management in the event of potentially deadly weather or disastrous environmental event, there was discussion on the matter of replacing the current siren, which is still in operational shape, with tax increment financing, otherwise known as TIF funds. Mayor Roger Cox would state there was an estimate of roughly around $24,000, but there was no presentation of an actual figure. The matter was tabled until an exact amount was presented to the council. Little discussion about the placement of the current siren took place. There was no plan following removal from its current location within the business district.
Who has authority on municipal parliamentary procedure?The City of Assumption adopted Robert’s Rules of Order (RONR) as the authority on parliamentary procedure in 2018 via resolution 18-6, as informed to the Golden Prairie News prior to the meeting by Alderman Joe Cochran via a phone call. As evidenced in several prior meetings, there have been descriptions of what could be construed as a lack of decorum in debate as set forth in RONR.
Assumption city attorney not well-educated on RONRCity attorney Jordan Klein presented to the council guidelines governing municipal meetings from both RONR and the Illinois Municipal League (IML). Klein believed that what IML provides is more sufficient for the parliamentary procedure for its meetings. However, upon further research post-meeting, IML mentions nothing on its website regarding the council’s ongoing issue with a lack of decorum in meetings and in debate. Also, upon inquiry of several known parliamentarians in the area, they attest that IML guidelines do not supersede that of RONR if the council had already adopted it as its rules of parliamentary procedure.
Details on decorum in debates during meetingsHowever, RONR has clear rules on decorum in meetings and during debate, as set in RONR 12th Edition (2020), guidelines 43:19 through 43:28, which do not have limitations to the following:
Confining themselves to the issue in questionDuring debate, a member must confine themselves to the issue in question before the assembly and must avoid personality attacks at all times.
Arraignment or belittling motives or remarks of members not allowedIt is not allowable for a member to arraign or belittle the motives or remarks of a member. However, the nature of consequences of a measure can receive condemnation in strong terms without resorting to personality attacks.
Proper procedures for speakingIf one desires to inquire of a member of the body speaking, there are proper procedures for handling these matters while avoiding cross-talk.
Defined parliamentary procedureWith the adoption of RONR, there are specific procedures that should take place. This includes members making certain privileges known, such as a point of order, a point of parliamentary procedure, and a point of information among others. Points of order also respond to the issue of a lack of decorum, as it is a lack of order in meetings.
Consequences for being out of orderThere are consequences for disobeying points of order as set forth in RONR, as a body – much like the Assumption City Council – can opt to censure a member of its council for comments that are out-of-line and considered conduct unbecoming for an elected official. Instances of disorderly conduct in meetings can result in the city clerk reading back those remarks. If there is a ruling that it is out of order, then it can be stricken from the record. In some severe cases under RONR, continued misconduct of a member has included physical removal for the remainder of a meeting and a vote of no confidence to remove a member of an elected body. (In contrast, IML does not have rules that necessarily protect an elected official from removal from any form of government.)
Other business before Assumption councilAmong other items of business during the meeting include:
- The council passed minutes from the July 7 general and July 22 special meetings.
- In addition to approval of City Treasurer Debbie Damery’s report, the council approved payment of bills specified on received warrant sheets.
- Two disbursements for the sewer system were given approval for a total of $171,167.52: $148,769.68 to Petersburg Plumbing and $22,397.84 for engineering services.
- The council gave their approval for the construction of a facade from TIF funding, as well as for the upcoming Assumption Fest.
- There was a discussion regarding an ordinance to allow for remote meeting attendance. The final language will be on the agenda for the September meeting with the intent to exercise the permissive method for remote attendance.
This is an extended version of an article published in the August 11, 2021 edition of the Assumption Golden Prairie News and Blue Mound Leader.
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Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.