I said in this space some time back that the City of Hazlehurst is in chaos. Anyone who doubts the accuracy of that statement need only watch videos of council meetings held last week, on May 18 and 21.
To point out just one of the strange parts of the meetings — and there were many more than one — let’s look at one that was of particular interest to me: entering into a contract to allow an out-of-state company to erect a tower in downtown Hazlehurst.
In a column last month I clearly stated my opposition to the matter, saying, in part, “The council has the power to nip that idea in the bud. I hope they’ll do the right thing. I hope. I hope.”
Well, of course, the council approved the contract last Thursday night. No surprise to me.
But how it was done was, well, odd …. to say the least.
At last Monday’s meeting, Council member John Bloodworth told the council he would be out of town for Thursday’s meeting and wanted more time to think about the tower matter. He made a motion to table the matter for a month, Council member Diane Leggett seconded the motion and it passed without opposition.
Three days later, with both Bloodworth and Leggett absent from the meeting, the Mayor made a motion to enter into a contract to have the tower erected. Council member John Ramay seconded.
During discussion, Council member Dywane Johnson pointed out that, at Monday’s meeting the council agreed to put it off a month, per Bloodworth’s motion.
After a short while, it occurred to the three council members present that the matter had to be taken off the table by a majority vote of the members present and voting.
So, with a motion already on the floor, the Mayor made a second motion — to take the matter off the table. That motion carried 2-1.
Then, when the Mayor started to move on to another matter, it was pointed out to him that all they had approved was to take the matter off the table, but had not voted on his earlier motion to enter into the contract.
So they backed up and voted on that motion and it, too, passed 2-1.
The city council meetings are not conducted to the letter of Robert’s Rules of Order but they general try to operate in an orderly manner. This was not orderly.
Perhaps Bloodworth’s Monday motion should have been to postpone the matter “to a certain time,” in this case, it appears that’s what he meant and that “certain time” would have been the June council meeting.
When that “certain time” arrives, the consideration of the question would be picked up where it was left off when it was postponed.
The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure does not allow the motion to be reconsidered which, in effect, was what the council did Thursday night: On Monday Bloodworth asked that the matter be postponed a month, but Thursday the council members present reconsidered.
But, as I said, the council doesn’t follow the letter of Robert’s Rules of Order and few, if any, small governing bodies do. Robert’s Rules of Order were designed for large assemblies such as the House of Representatives, the Senate, State Houses, etc.
The option to postpone the matter to a certain time was available to Bloodworth but that’s not the way he worded his motion.
Nonetheless, Bloodworth, in good faith, asked for the courtesy to put off the matter for a month, a courtesy he should have been granted.