The needler in the haystack.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

What is a 'special emergency Council meeting' anyhow?

Image of meeting notice received.

I got a communication from the Clerk's office about tonight's 'special emergency' Plainfield City Council meeting.

The Council had originally scheduled a 'special' meeting to address the introduction of a temporary budget as we enter (today) the new fiscal year.

Since fund transfers between between appropriation lines in the FY2010 budget did not get enacted Monday (the  Council had expected changes from the Administration's original proposal, which turned out not to be forthcoming), the Council hoped to take up the matter at Thursday's already-noticed meeting.

This would have required some dexterity in order to meet the 48-hour notice requirements of the Sunshine Law (never mind that just about everybody who is interested in the meeting was in the room when the discussion took place).

I am guessing the notice requirement could not be met, and the decision was made to take up the item as an 'emergency'.

An emergency it may be, but a 'special emergency meeting' is like a jackalope -- you'll not find one in the real world.

Here's what I learned at 'Clerk U.' (I won't bother you with all the citation thingies; we are, after all, heading into a holiday weekend): there are three kinds of meetings of public bodies --

Governing bodies are required by law to adopt a schedule of regular meetings at the beginning of each year and publish same. A regularly scheduled meeting may be canceled or, with proper notice, rescheduled.

Special meetings are 'special' -- they were not contemplated when the regular schedule was adopted and may be held, with proper notice, to address SPECIFIC items of business. They are limited to the items listed in the notice -- which supposedly means that WALK-ON items are not allowed, nor is DISCUSSION of any other business than that called for in the notice. (So now, explain me the 'walk-on' items at the recent Board of Ed special meeting.)

When a situation exists where action is deemed emergent and must be taken before the 48-hour notice period, an EMERGENCY meeting can be called. Again the notice must state what items will be taken up and the meeting is limited to those items. Notice must be posted in the Clerk's office, but the meeting will be legal even though notice may not appear in the designated newspapers before the meeting takes place.
These three. That's it.

As Julia Child used to say, 'Well, what would you do?'

Probably schedule the emergency meeting to start five minutes after the special meeting was slated to get under way.

So, you actually would have a meeting-within-a-meeting.

But that's only if you care about niceties.

Let's just hope they are able to get something done tonight.

Niceties can wait.

The Jackalope.

-- Dan Damon [follow]

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olddoc said...

If one should wonders what is wrong in Plainfield's governing organizations one can start with the BOE and Council and Corporation Counsels apparent lack of knowledge of basic Parliamentary procedures.

Anonymous said...

Do you really expect proper language from this administration?