A view from Lick Skillet by Gerald Largen: If you're going to preside, learn the Rules!

-A A +A

Generous reader, we would propound to you the following proposition: No one should allow themselves to be elected, selected, or appointed to the position of presiding officer over any board, commission, or other governmental body without first thoroughly familiarizing himself with the provisions of Robert's Rules of Order.

The validity of this proposition is clearly demonstrated by the current brouhaha arising out of the Roane County School Board's proceedings in relation to the employment of Toni McGriff to continue as Director of Schools.

As you will have learned from Damon Lawrence's story in the News for 30 March, Chairman Darrell Langley sent out a notice of a special, called meeting for 8 March, “for the purpose of discussing the direction of the superintendent.”
However, at the meeting, Chairman Langley announced “this is a special called meeting on the consideration of director of schools contract.”

Putting aside the divergence in terminology between the word “superintendent” and the phrase “director of schools,” which is just sloppy, the action called for in the notice of meeting and the announcement of the chair is way beyond sloppy, it is in fact illegal, as shown by the comments of our old friend and colleague, Richard (Rick) Hollow, who cites as authority a Tennessee Court of Appeals opinion arising out of the town of Englewood.
We are not familiar with the Englewood case, but assume it says what Rick says it says, inasmuch as it expresses the law as we have always understood it to be.
Chairman Langley would also not need to be familiar with the Englewood case to know what the rule is, if he had read Robert's Rules of Order, for in that long-recognized authority the rule is stated thusly:
“... only business mentioned in the call of a special meeting can be transacted at such a meeting.”
Robert's Rules of Order by General Henry Martyn Robert (U.S. Army), various editions of various dates.
Gen. Robert once stated: "Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in is own eyes, there is the least of real liberty.”

The chairman doubtless did what he considered “right in his own eyes,” it was not right in the eyes of the law.
Even more troubling than his actions, however, were his statements to reporter Lawrence, who quotes the chairman as saying this:
“It was to discuss the superintendent. OK, well what are you going to do? Are you going to start a search or are you going to extend? That was up to the board. I just ran the meeting.”
Further he said: “When you discuss, anybody can make a motion at any public meeting. That was a public meeting.”
The chairman clearly does not understand what a chairman is supposed to do.
If, by law, a meeting can only do what is specified by the call issued for that meeting, then it is up to the chairman to see that the members comply with the law and act only upon the matters specified in the call.
And sometimes motions are not in order, and it is the chairman's duty to rule them out of order.
If the body disagrees with that ruling they can appeal the ruling of the chair and overturn it if the required number of members vote to do so.

It is particularly troubling that a board of education should act in such an uneducated fashion. These officials are supposed to be our best and brightest folks making decisions about the education of our young people.
What kind of message as to the value of education does such action by our board of education send to them, or to anyone?

Faithful readers will recall that a couple of weeks ago we discussed the critical comments from certain quarters about the moderate rate of population growth for the county as reflected in the most recent census report.
Well, we have now determined why this population growth (4.4 percent) is so much less than our neighbor Loudon County’s 24.2 percent.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reported in the issue of 31 March on a report on the collaborative work of The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute in developing health rankings for each county throughout the United States.
The News Sentinel’s story listed six areas of ranking for 11 East Tennessee counties, including Loudon and Roane.

Here’s how we compare:
Adult smoking: Loudon 26 percent; Roane 18 percent.
Adult Obesity: Loudon 31 percent; Roane 32 percent.
Excessive Drinking: Loudon 12 percent; Roane 5 percent.
Teens (15-19) giving birth: Loudon 61 per 1000; Roane 49 per 1000.
Access to healthy food: Loudon 60 percent; Roane 100 percent.
Poor or Fair health: Loudon 14 percent; Roane 27 percent.

So, there you have it.
We're fat enough and in poor enough health, but when it comes to smoking, drinking, and birthing babies, our county is just falling down on the job.
If we could just get our teenage girls to smoke more, drink more and engage in more sexual activity, we too might have a population explosion.
While in the opinion of some of us, this would deteriorate the local quality of life, we're not sure how it would effect the economy, other than liquor store, smoke shops, and maternity wards, but it would certainly boost the census figures, wouldn't it?

Somebody, and it may have been Sam Goldwyn, once remarked that he was feeling deja vu all over again.
Well, dear reader, if you happen to be of a certain age you too may be feeling deja vu all over again when it comes to some of the present political practices emanating from the Capitol's marble halls.

It seems that some of our Republican friends, instead of feeling the reverberations of the past actions of some of their great Republican statesmen are instead feeling nothing but the spirit of their great reprobates, especially Joe McCarthy and Tricky Dick Nixon.
Nixonesque is the recent call by three veteran GOP representatives, reported by The Associated Press, for the IRS to investigate the AARP with an eye to revoking the tax exempt status of that organization because it supported the Health Care bill.
Somewhere we are sure the ghost of the Trickster is smiling and saying, those are my boys.
And they are.