City Council ditches Robert’s over Rosenberg’s Rules of Order for conducting meetings and other functions

City Hall on Thursday, June 14, 2018. Eddy Martinez/The Signal
After an intense debate over the mayoral rotation for the new year last month, the Santa Clarita City Council may soon have formal changes to its norms and procedures for all its functions, including how the council appoints mayors from within its own ranks. Council members Tuesday during a regular meeting voted unanimously to direct staff to bring forward at a later date a formal proposal the City Council could adopt, specifying the council would adopt Rosenberg’s Rules of Order for the conduct of meetings. To come to this agreement, however, council members found themselves divided once again, as they debated how each would like to follow the rules. “It’s not my desire to make any changes to the council leadership process,” said Mayor Pro Tem Cameron Smith, who asked the matter to be itemized following the debate last month. “But I do think that it makes sense to simply have a parliamentary process in place for this council and future councils to just provide guidance on any items that are up for debate.”   They had to consider adopting either Robert’s or Rosenberg’s Rules of Order, to which each voiced in favor of following the latter after City Attorney Joe Montes gave a brief rundown of each. Robert’s Rules, based upon rules governing the conduct of the U.S. Congress, has been expressed by several jurisdictions as more complex and lengthy when compared to Rosenberg’s — the option Santa Clarita has unofficially practiced. Under Robert’s Rules, nominations are submitted without the requirement for a second, unless the City Council requires so. Under Rosenberg’s Rule, developed by state Supreme Court Judge Dave Rosenberg and recommended by the League of California Cities, motions require a second but nominations are not specifically addressed. Votes would take place in the reverse order nominations or motions are made, which helped Mayor Marsha McLean earn the title in December as the first nomination went to Smyth, followed by one for McLean.   Montes said modifications could be made should they choose Rosenberg’s Rules. Councilman Bob Kellar motioned for Rosenberg’s but said consideration of nominees should be made in the order the nominations are made until a nominee receives a simple majority vote. Councilman Bill Miranda countered Kellar’s motion by presenting a motion to adopt Rosenberg’s Rules as is, meaning considering nominees in the reverse order nominations are made. They each then took a vote for both motions. Only McLean and Miranda voted “yes” for Miranda’s motion and the rest “no.” A 3-2 result was also counted for Kellar’s motion. Seeing that a consensus existed in favor of Rosenberg’s Rules with voting on the first motion first, this was sufficient for staff to return with a proposal for mayoral rotations. City Manager Ken Striplin said, “In order to resolve this, I think it’s whatever the majority of the council chooses to do in terms of which motions to choose to take first would be sufficient under your current rules, because we don’t have an adopted rule.” Montes clarified that what is chosen for motions under Rosenberg’s Rules can be separate and distinct from what they do for nominations and selection for mayor and mayor pro tem. Although the council asked the staff to return with a written plan by the next regular meeting on Jan. 22, Striplin said staff would require additional time. The matter could return sometime next month.

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About the author

Tammy Murga

Tammy Murga

Tammy Murga covers city hall and business for The Signal. She joined in the summer of 2018, previously working in Northern California as an assistant editor and reporter for the Lake County Record-Bee. In 2016, she graduated from Mount Saint Mary's University, Los Angeles. Have a story tip? Message her on Twitter or at tmurga@signalscv.com.