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AAC


SEEMS TO ME... How to run a meeting — the right way


mom wore a mood ring. When she was in a good mood it turned blue. In a bad mood, it left a big red mark on my forehead. I didn’t know it then, but apparently, she attended a lot of meetings. Why have a meeting anyway? A great many important matters are quite satisfactorily conducted by a single indi- vidual who consults nobody. A great many more are resolved by a letter, a memo, a phone call, or a simple conversation between two people. Sometimes a few minutes spent with several people separately is more effective and productive than a meeting with them all together which can last who knows how long. Certainly a great many meetings waste a great deal of everyone’s time and seem to be held for historical rather than practical reasons. However, county


N T


othing like the announcement of a “meet- ing” to get most people in a bad mood. The words “meeting” and “fun” go together like cheese and Nutella. When I was a boy, my


he quorum court is required by state law to meet no less than one time a month. Te


court’s organizational ordinance must establish the


government is a public entity — a political subdivision of the state for the more convenient administration of justice and the exercise of local legislative authority related to county affairs [§ 14-14-101]. Being a representative government, we must conduct our business in the open. Te residents of our counties have the legal and moral right to know how their local government business is being conducted and how their tax money is being spent. Te legislative power of county government is vested in the quorum court of each county, subject to the limitations imposed by the Arkansas Constitution and by state law. Each county quorum court is made up of 9, 11, 13, or 15 mem- bers depending on the population of the county. Te county judge, as the chief executive officer of the county, serves as the presiding officer of the quorum court without a vote but with the power of veto. Te quorum court is required by state law to meet no less than one time a month. Te court’s organizational ordinance must establish the regular monthly meeting date, time and


14


regular monthly meeting date, time and location. Tis ordinance may also provide for additional monthly meetings; regular committee meetings; and should


declare the court’s rules of procedure, whether by Rob- ert’s Rules of Order or otherwise.


location. Tis ordinance may also provide for additional monthly meet- ings; regular committee meetings; and should declare the court’s rules of procedure, whether by Robert’s Rules of Order or otherwise. Most county quo- rum courts use Robert’s Rules of Order as their guide. Henry Martyn Robert was an engi- neering officer in the Army. One day he was asked to preside over a meeting and he realized he didn’t know how. But, he tried to run the meeting anyway and before it was over he was humiliated with embarrass- ment. With that bad experience under his belt, he decided he would learn all he could about parliamentary procedure so he would never experience that situation again. What he found was a lot of chaos about how to run a meeting. Everywhere he went, he found people with differing ideas of how meetings should be conducted, based primarily on what they had become accustomed to. Every one of us has probably been guilty of saying something like, “But, that’s how we’ve


always done it.” Mr. Robert decided he would establish one standard pro-


cedure and try to make a little order out of what he had seen, which was a procedural nightmare. We know that standard as Robert’s Rules of Order, which most Arkansas quorum courts use — or at least say they do. Te original version was pub- lished in 1915. Today you can find the 12th revision available in most bookstores and online. I encourage all county judges; all quorum court members — who are called justices of the peace; all county clerks as the secretary to the quorum court; all county attorneys, and any other personnel employed by the quorum court to have a good understanding of Robert’s Rules of Order — at least the basics. You should also know the types of motions such as a privileged motion; a subsidiary motion; a main motion;


COUNTY LINES, FALL 2020


Eddie A. Jones County Consultant


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