Thursday, October 01, 2015

Civility Rules: My Suggestions

                                         Photo credit: Nancy Sikes-Kline
-----Original Message-----
From: easlavin
To: ilopez
Sent: Thu, Oct 1, 2015 10:21 am
Subject: Re: PROPOSED St. Augustine Commission Rules of Civility, Decorum and Ethics -- Preliminary Suggestions by Ed Slavin
Please acknowledge receipt.   Speaking of "civility" and "decorum," you could even start saying "thank you." It costs you nothing.  What do you reckon?
-----Original Message-----
From: easlavin <>
To: ilopez <>
Sent: Wed, Sep 30, 2015 10:36 pm
Subject: PROPOSED St. Augustine Commission Rules of Civility, Decorum and Ethics -- Preliminary Suggestions by Ed Slavin

Dear Isabelle:
Below are my first six suggestions -- still waiting to see the fruits of your legal research.  Please share with everyone tomorrow. Meanwhile:
1.  Please omit language without definitions, e.g., "personal attacks," "relevance," etc. as void for vagueness, overinclusive, underinclusive and unconstitutional by reason of constituting a standardless delegation run riot and presuming to pronounce a crime has occurred for First Amendment protected activity (disruption of assembling language).
2. Please omit language that illegally cabins rights of residents to hire a lawyer to speak for a group presentation, pursuant to state law.
3. Please delete three minutes and substitute five minutes -- no principled reason exists for such a short limit. Please provide for comment on each agenda item, as at St. Johns County and the City of St. Augustine Beach.  No exceptions.
4. Please place commissioners and citizens on an equal footing -- e.g., Commissioners must be civil to one another and to the public. Equal protection/14th Amendment.
5. Please provide for two public readings before adoption, with public comment at each reading, and amend our 12/8/2015 procedural resolution.
6. Please add appropriate language from St. Johns County Commission Board of County Commissionefrs (SJC BCC) Rules  2.206 and 4.401 to 4.406:

RULE 2.206
Specific Findings. All orders/recommendations shall give specific findings and reasoning for the decision/recommendation.
Presence During an Appeal. If a decision is appealed before the Board of County Commissioners, a member of the Board/Committee will be present at such hearing.
Budgets. Each Board/Committee shall submit, within the time and in the manner provided, an annual budget for the public funds which it deems necessary for the performance of its functions. If a budget is appropriated by the Board of County Commissioners, it shall be administered as a part of the appropriations to the County Administrator. Should funds be needed during the year, the request shall be made to the Board/Committee’ s County Commission Liaison, who will bring the matter to the County Administrator to be placed as a scheduled agenda item on the Board of County Commissioners Regular Agenda.
Annual Reports. Each Board/Committee must submit an Annual Report to the Board of County Commissioners by April 1st indicating its activities and accomplishments for the previous calendar year. The report should include the mission statement of the Board/Committee, projections for the current calendar year and any other relevant information, such as the proposed budget.
Boards Subject to Certain Laws. Each Board/Committee is subject to applicable Florida law, including but not limited to the provisions of Chapters 112, 119 and 286, Florida Statutes (regarding Public Officers & Employees, Public Records and Government in the Sunshine, respectively). Each prospective member of a Board/Committee shall be provided with a copy or summary of Chapters 112, 119 and 286, Florida Statutes. The rules of each Board/Committee shall have County staff
If a County Commission Liaison is not assigned, the Staff Support will proceed as follows:
  1. Meet with the Chair of the respective Board/Committee to discuss the situation and possible alternatives for resolution.
  2. Meet with the County Administrator to discuss the situation and determine the most appropriate plan of action.
  3. The agreed upon matter for proceeding will be committed in writing and implemented, and a follow-up report will be conveyed to all pertinent parties as necessary.
as custodian of the records of the Board/Committee, who shall be responsible for the records’ safekeeping on County property and administration, according to Chapter 119, Florida Statutes.
County employees may not serve as voting members on any County Board/Committee. For the purpose of this paragraph, County Commissioners shall not be considered County employees.
  1. Employee Harassment Policy. St. Johns County expressly prohibits any form of unlawful employee harassment based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, Veteran status or status in any group protected by state or local law. Improper interference with the ability of St. Johns County employees to perform their expected job duties is not tolerated. Board/Committee members shall comply with this policy in their interactions with County employees. See section 406 of the Administrative Code to reference the complete policy.
  2. Rules of Decorum and Civility. Each Board/Committee and members thereof shall reasonably comply with Part 4 Rules of Decorum and Civility. Board/Committee members are encouraged to make constructive comments and policy recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners but shall avoid disrespectful commentary.

    The Board expressly recognizes that promoting and preserving decorum and civility best enables the Board to fairly and expeditiously conduct the business of the County.
    While the Board is in session, the Chair shall preserve order and decorum. A Commissioner shall neither by conversation nor otherwise delay or interrupt the proceedings or the peace of the Board, nor disturb any Commissioner while speaking or refuse to obey the orders of the Board or its Chair.
    No Commissioner shall speak on any question or discuss any matter, nor interrupt another, nor make a motion without first being recognized by the Chair. When two or more Commissioners seek recognition by the Chair, the Chair shall name the Commissioner who is to speak first. No Commissioner shall be interrupted by another without the consent of the Commissioner who has the floor, except by rising to a question of order. A Commissioner, in speaking on any matter, shall confine him/herself to the question, or matter before the Board, shall not use unbecoming abusive or unparliamentary language and shall avoid commenting on personalities or character of other Board members, former Board members, other officials, staff, or the public.
    page41image11536 page41image11696
    RULE 4.403
    A. Always focus on what’s best for the County, and represent the entire County as well as your individual district.
    B. Maintain respect for the Board and its members. Visibly demonstrate respect for, and fairly represent, each other.
    C. Demonstrate that it is fine to disagree but not to be disagreeable.
    D. If reasonably possible, avoid surprising your fellow commissioners or staff; except positive surprises.   [delete -- may violate Sunshine --- ES]

    Any person disrupting a Board meeting by making personal, impertinent or slanderous remarks or by boisterous behavior while the Board is in session, may be removed from the meeting by the Sheriff's office. Such removal may be requested by the Chair in his/her discretion, or by consensus of the Board, or by the Sheriff's office if there is perceived to be an immediate threat to any person. No demonstrations of approval or disapproval from the audience shall be permitted; and if, after warning by the Chair, such demonstrations are made and result in a disruption of the meeting, the person(s)page41image23768
    creating such disruption may be removed from the meeting; or the Chair may recess the meeting until order is restored. The Chair shall call upon the Sheriff's officers or other security officer who may be present during the meeting to enforce directions given by the Chair for any violation of this Rule.
    Board members are expected to observe timely appearance at Board of County Commission regular, workshop, special meeting, or other official Board function. Any member who is unable to timely attend any such meeting or function will notify either the Board Chair or the County Administrator, prior to the meeting, if possible so that notice may be conveyed to all Board members. Any member present at any meeting of the Board will give notice to the Chair if leaving the meeting for an extended period of time.
    To ensure the timely business of the Board proceeds with limited distractions and to respect public speakers, a certain portion of the County Auditorium is designated as “Official Use Only” as shown in Exhibit B. This Official Use Only area encompasses the dais area, including the sections designated for staff and the public speaker podiums. During public meetings, those permitted in the Official Use Only area shall be limited to the Board of County Commissioners, County staff, and members of the public expressly recognized by the Chair, such as public speakers and proclamation recipients. Unless expressly recognized by the Chair, members of the public and media shall remain in the non-designated area of the Auditorium during public meetings. 
Please send us the next iteration when finished. 
Thank you.
With kindest regards, I am,
Sincerely yours,
Ed Slavin

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