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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Dunedin commissioners debate civility -- again

Dunedin City Commissioner Julie Scales has again found herself at the center of a squabble about civility (or rather, her alleged lack thereof) toward her fellow commissioners.

The topic came up this time as commissioners last week were having what was expected to finally be a non-eventful discussion and vote on a very controversial city contract with Dunedin Causeway vendor Sail Honeymoon.

As the mayor was asking if anyone else had questions or comments, Scales proclaimed that she was “calling the question” – invoking a Robert's Rules of Order parliamentarian procedure that requires debate to cease and for panel members to take an immediate vote.

“So you’re really going to shut your five commissioners down from closing comments? Is that what you’re saying?” Mayor Dave Eggers asked Scales.

“I repeat, I’m calling the question,” she said.

The item passed 5-0.

During the commission discussion segment at the end of the meeting, Vice Mayor Julie Ward Bujalski called Scales’ move “highly disrespectful” to her colleagues and audience members who may have wanted to weigh in.

“Parliamentary procedure,” Bujalski said, “is used at meetings to keep things orderly and to give everyone a fair chance to speak. So when we call a question, you call the question after a leeeeegnthy debate. And even Robert’s Rules themselves say it’s to be done very rarely.”

She asked her colleagues to be more considerate when using the rule in the future.

Scales replied that, “I certainly am in full support of our conducting the meetings in accordance with Robert’s Rules of Order. So I think we all should observe that.”

To which Eggers piped up: “We’ve also talked up here frequently about civility and working with each other and being respectful. I think that’s what we’re talking about too. ... Being a cohesive group up here. That goes beyond what’s written necessarily.”

He asked the city attorney to research whether a majority of commissioners are able to override use of the “call the question” rule.

Watch video of last week's discussion here.


[Last modified: Friday, May 10, 2013 12:27pm]


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