Friday, October 4, 2013

You can get Robert's Rules of Order online, free.

by Melinda Pillsbury-Foster

Everyone uses Robert's Rule of Order. They are used in every legislature in the US, including Congress. They are used in business, at PTA meetings, and for meetings of garden clubs. These brief rules were originated by Henry Martyn Robert, first published, 1876. Henry, an officer in the U.S. Army was asked, without warning, to preside over a meeting. Embarrassed at his ignorance, he decided never to attend another meeting until he knew something of parliamentary law.

Today, nearly everyone knows, and follows, the rules Henry Robert compiled. My kids learned then when they formed their first club, just before they started pre-school. Robert's Rules allow everyone to participate. 
Ashtabula's County Commissioners don't use Robert's Rules of Order. Evidently, they have made up their own 'rules' which allow them to ignore the presence of citizens who take time to attend meetings. 
I've attended these meetings, a sharp contrast to the NFRW, or a meeting for the church vestry. With Robert's Rules eliminated there is no point where it is possible for citizens of the county to engage in dialog with the county government, for which they pay. 
The commissioners now in office, Dan, Peggy and Joe, have converted overseeing the business of the County to sovereign control of county government by eliminating the usual means for citizens to voice their insights and be part of the process of governing. 
Over the last months columns have appeared here pointing out the mis-management by our county commissioners on several specific issues, a partial list which could be much longer.
Included were problems with a 'recycling' program which failed completely, resulting in fines from the EPA, and the multiple complains about Ashtabula County Transport (ACT).

Ashtabula County Sheriff, William "Billy" Johnson, informed the Commissioners recently that the Sheriff's department will be $85,000 in debt by the end of the year. This, at the same time the Commissioners are planning a new website for themselves estimated to cost over $50,000. 
Sheriff Johnson's statement was a sharp contrast to others working for the County who simply send pleas for more money with no explanation at to what problems caused their miscalculations. These requests are generally approved without comment.
It does not take even a high school graduate to realize the time for questions is past. It is time for the citizens of Ashtabula County to demand answers, an audit, and real accountability from their employees.

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