Monday, March 15, 2010

Let's go to Sturgis!

Article XII of the St. Louis County Libertarian Central Committee's constitution ("Parliamentary Authority") reads:

Meetings of the Central Committee shall be conducted according to Robert's Rules of Order as most recently revised.

Next month, I'll be formally proposing that we amend the article's title to "Parliamentary Procedure" and its text to:

Where consistent with this constitution, meetings of the Central Committee shall be conducted according to The Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure, 4th edition. The Standard Code shall be treated as a procedural manual and shall not be interpreted as endowing the Central Committee with any authority or power not provided for in this constitution.

Amending our county part's constitution is a two-meeting process, which means that this can get done (if it gets done at all) no earlier than May 12th.

Assuming that it does get done, that gives us the better part of a year to test things out at the county party level under two different sets of officers (we elect officers this August; I'm not seeking re-election as chair; I understand that our secretary and treasurer will likewise be standing down, and I hope and expect that our vice chair will run for chair) before proposing something similar at the state party level.

If the Standard Code (formerly known as the Sturgis Code) and a limitation on the scope of "parliamentary authority" are adopted at the state party level, that allows for another year or so of state party testing before the 2012 Libertarian National Convention, at which I intend to propose adoption of a similar measure.

Why bother? Yes, I guess I should explain.

The Standard Code (at 285 pages in length) is simpler and less confusing than Robert's (704 pages).

If the point of parliamentary procedure is to facilitate the conduct of orderly meetings, simpler and less confusing is better.

If, on the other hand, the point of parliamentary procedure is to allow intra-committee factions to conjure new powers for themselves out of thin air, or to arm individual committee members with the power to grind proceedings to a halt through arcane procedural maneuvers, then 704 pages of kitchen sink gobbledygook is just what the doctor ordered, isn't it?

Over the last few years, there's been a trend at the national and state levels of Libertarian Party organization toward the behaviors described in the preceding paragraph.

I'm moving for adoption of the Standard Code at the county level both as a prophylactic measure against that trend, and as a way of testing an antidote to the trend which can hopefully be administered upward.

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