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around itself as it moves forward.” Even the most competent elected official armed with a complete knowledge of the Open Meetings Law (FOIA) and “Robert’s Rules of Order” can find themselves on the verge of panic while trying to chair a meet- ing. One word of advice can aid in avoiding this public calam- ity: RESPECT. Let me further expand on the term “respect” by using an acrostic.



esponsibility — Te chair is responsible for implementing the rules that have been established.

Responsibility lies with the chair to clarify roles and rules, to follow the agenda, to be fair but firm, and to keep the meeting moving.

thics — Rightly or wrongly, the chair is always held to a higher standard than the other members

of the body, and projecting the air of a higher ethical standard is crucial to a cooperative environment.

uccinct — Often less is more, and making com- ments and rulings in a direct and succinct manner

helps avoid the sin of sermonizing to members of the body.



redictability Principal — Prior proper planning prevents poor performance. A successful meeting

does not just happen. Rather, it requires, above all, that the chair be prepared for what is to come.

ngage — Te chair is responsible for engaging all of the stakeholders in any public meeting. Leaving any of the stakeholders out of the process is a recipe for discord and disaster.

oordinate not Control — Te proper goal of the chair is to coordinate the rules with the compet-

ing interest, not to control the outcome of the meet- ing. A controlling chair will invite stern and vocal opposition and impair the ability of the meeting to accomplish any of its goals.

ime — In short, starting a meeting late and wast- ing time during a meeting are both rude. It’s rude

to your colleagues, citizens and staff. Te chair has the primary responsibility to call the meeting to order on time and to make sure that the meeting moves forward in a timely manner. Don’t wait on the perpetual tardy. Suggest a new motto: 5 minutes early is the new on time. Start every meeting promptly, and people will soon realize that you mean what you say.

Following these suggestions will foster respect both for the COUNTY LINES, WINTER 2017

chair and the body as a whole. Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Men are respectable only as they respect.” What if you’re a participant and not the chair — in this case a quorum court member not acting as chair? Here’s how to make sure your participation contributes to an effective meeting.

1. Focus on the issue. Avoid stories, jokes, and unrelated topics. Tese things waste time, distract the attendees and sometimes mislead. Save the fun and trivia for social events, when it’s more appropriate and will be appreci- ated.

2. Take a moment to organize your thoughts before speaking. Ten express your idea simply, logically and concisely. People are more receptive to ideas they understand — plus long complex explanations bore people.

3. Use positive comments in the meeting. Negative comments create defensive reactions or even retalia- tions that take people away from solutions. Negative comments also make you appear mean, uncoopera- tive, weak, or even incompetent.

4. Test your comments. Before speaking, ask yourself, “Does this contribute to an effective meeting?” If you sense it subtracts, keep your mouth shut.

5. Respect others. Different views force us to think. After all, if we were all the same, they would need only one of us. So, accept what others say as being valid from their viewpoint. Work to understand why others are expressing ideas that you find disagreeable.

6. Take a rest. If you notice that you are speaking more than anyone else in a meeting, stop and let others talk. You’re either dominating the meeting with monologues or conducting a conversation with a minority of the participants. In either case, you’re preventing the other attendees from participating.

Tese are but a few of the things you can do as a quorum

court member to contribute to a productive meeting. I want to discuss a few other things that I have not yet touched on. Tese tips are primarily for the chair of the meeting. But, remember that could be a member of the quo- rum court in the absence of the county judge.

• Summarize. After each agenda point, summarize the key decisions, opinions and actions. It’s your job to make sure those decisions and actions are clearly un- derstood and that they are moving in the right direc- tion to accomplish the meeting’s objectives. It is also a good idea, especially when there has been lengthy

See “MEETINGS” on Page 46 >>> 25

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