Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Libertarian Party of Florida: Two Things

Thing #1: Thanks to the Libertarian Party of Florida's executive committee for unanimously confirming me as the state's alternate appointee to the national platform committee at their Sunday night teleconference meeting!

As the alternate, I get to participate in the committee's discussions/debates, and to attend the physical meetings. I only get a vote in the event that the state's main representative, Frank Caprio, can't make it to one of those physical meetings and I am there (that's the main reason to have an alternate). My understanding is that there are usually two such meetings -- one between now and the national convention, and one at the beginning of the convention. I do intend to be there for both, finances permitting (and y'all know how I stretch a dollar -- I see a couple of bus rides and shared rooms or park benches in my future). And I'll try to represent the state well in any case. Thanks for the opportunity

Thing #2: At the state convention I proposed, and the delegates passed, a bylaws amendment as follows:

The Executive Committee shall use roll call voting on all substantive motions. On all roll call votes, the vote of each individual Committee member shall be recorded in the minutes.

During Sunday night's conference call, someone -- I forget whether it was secretary Suzanne Gilmore or rules committee chair Tony Sellers -- suggested that I be asked to write something up on exactly what the hell is meant by "substantive motion." So:

There are two kinds of motions in a meeting utilizing parliamentary procedure: "Procedural motions" and "substantive motions."

"Procedural motions" are motions relating to how the meeting is run. Adopting the consent agenda and accepting the minutes of the previous meeting are procedural motions, as is a motion to adjourn. "I move the previous question" is a procedural motion. "I move to suspend the rules to consider ..." is a procedural motion. "I appeal the ruling of the chair" is a procedural motion. And so on and so forth.

"Substantive motions" are motions intended to result (if passed) in the organization taking an action or adopting a policy. "I move to appropriate $500 for the purchase of brochures" is a substantive motion. "I move to suspend/revoke the membership of [insert name here]" is a substantive motion. "I move to affiliate [insert county organization here]" is a substantive motion.

I hope that clears things up. But I'm going to throw in a little more here to shed light on the intent of the change and help the chair run things smoothly vis a vis votes.

When the chair moves to to a vote on a motion and asks for its adoption "without objection," if there are no objections, in my opinion that would constitute a unanimous roll call vote -- it is known that each and every member voted "aye" on the motion (fulfilling the amendment's intent) without them all having to individually say so. Only if someone objects would the secretary have to go to the work of calling each member by name and getting an "aye" or "nay."

The intent of the amendment as I offered was simple: If there's an issue (a substantive, not procedural, issue) on which the executive committee is divided, the members deserve to be able to know who voted which way on that issue.  That way we know whether or not our representatives are, um, representing us in terms of the reasons we voted for them, and from that whether or not we should re-elect them when the time comes.

There was some concern that this change would lengthen the already very long executive committee meetings. I understand that concern, and have two things to say about it:

First, I suspect it may have the opposite effect. I believe that executive committee members will, because of the extra time it takes to conduct a roll call vote, likely be more inclined to act unanimously on issues that aren't of earth-shattering importance to them, instead of quibbling over the minor details of things that nobody will remember six months from now.

And if that's not the case, well ... yes, I know the members of the executive committee are volunteers. But they volunteered for a job that entails accountability. If the already long meetings go ten minutes longer because there are ten roll call votes instead of ten voice votes, it won't kill anyone and it will be worth the time in terms of creating information that's of value to the membership.

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