The special-interest driven majority of the Clark County Council has taken another step toward restricting the liberty of Clark County citizens, and silencing elected representatives who disagree with the Chairman.
The Gold Standard for conducting orderly meetings is Robert’s Rules of Order. This is a specific and detailed standard for conducting meetings that greatly reduces the potential that meetings descend into chaotic shouting matches. It allows business to be done in an orderly, efficient manner that can easily be documented in the minutes. It also ensures that everyone in the meeting gets a chance to be heard and present their concerns to the body of the meeting for consideration and action. They guarantee that the minority gets to be heard. These rules are extensive, and often large meetings appoint a parliamentarian who’s conversant on the rules to adjudicate when questions of procedure are raised.
Heretofore the Clark county Council has ostensibly operated under Robert’s Rules of Order. I say ostensibly, since they’ve frequently been observed more in the breach than in the observance.
Nevertheless, it’s apparently an irritant to Chairman Boldt when his high-handed silencing of comments and observations from Councilors Madore and Mielke is called out and identified as a breach of the accepted rules of order. Using Robert’s Rules is mandated in the Civil Service Rules for Clark County, Washington, section 2.05, which states, “Roberts Rules of Order shall be final authority on all questions of procedure and parliamentary law not otherwise provided by these rules.”
The corrupt majority of the County Council is presenting a new Rules of Procedure document, to be passed as a county ordinance, that discards Robert’s rules as an objective standard. In section XIX it states that “…the latest edition of Roberts Rules of Order may be used as a reference, although strict adherence is not required.” In other words, the County Chair will maintain a pretense of order as long as it suits him, and when another councilor says something he disagrees with, he will silence them and there’s nothing they can do about it.
What this means to you, the citizen, is that if you live in the eastern half of the county, you have no voice on the council, as the District 1 and 2 councilors rubber-stamp any contentious decision made by the council chair. Your councilors are not only in the perpetual minority, but their right to be heard in public council meetings has just been removed by ordinance and placed at the whim of a hostile and petty chairman. Given the egregious lack of respect and high-handed actions to silence the conservative minority, in spite of Robert’s Rules since the five-member council was seated, we can only expect it to be worse when the council is absolved from even the fiction of following Robert’s rules. Adherence to an objective set of rules, to be enforced by the moral standards of our public servants, is a key defense against the tyranny of the majority that John Adams warned against. Since the County chairman has demonstrated that his moral standards are at best negotiable, this move to discard an objective set of rules undermines the reason for a representative form of government.
Ironically, the prospect of removing meeting rules that enable minority conservative voices to be heard in council meetings has the left-leaning supporters of the progressive majority beside themselves with glee. In typical fashion, the Left preaches tolerance and justice, as long as you don’t disagree with them. It doesn’t bother them that when the rights of one group are removed, the liberty of everyone is eroded. The law you pass today to silence someone can easily be used to silence you tomorrow. Had this action been taken by a conservative majority to silence a progressive minority, you would be able to hear the howls of protest and condemnation of the council all the way to British Columbia. The extremely partisan local old media would be apoplectic.
Unfortunately, the Left will never live to rue their actions, because one of the first things a conservative majority will do upon taking office is to restore Robert’s Rules, so everyone gets to say their piece. Conservatives don’t just pay lip service to fairness and liberty.
This sort of dysfunction is no surprise. Opponents of the county charter warned us of this before it was ever passed. Furthering the dysfunction was the election of three politicians whose first loyalty is to special interests and building their power (Boldt, Olson, and to a lesser degree Stewart). Since the new charter was put in effect and these politicians elected, the property rights of rural citizens have been further placed in jeopardy and county expenses have soared. The current Council majority seems to have no regard for fiscal responsibility, and have systematically undone many programs which have demonstrably improved the quality of life for citizens and efficiency of the County Government. Their irresponsible, amateurish and vindictive style of governance has exposed the county to numerous legal liabilities. Property taxes will inevitably increase to pay for this foolishness. Don’t own property? You’ll still pay, because your landlord has to fund this liability somehow, and they will probably raise your rent.
ClarkCounty.info promotes wise and ethical government. Removing an objective and proven standard governing meetings to silence a minority is neither wise nor ethical.