The Rhino Times article on Wednesday, Jan. 4, “Substitute Motion By Councilmember Hightower Gets Ignored,” raised questions about how Greensboro City Council meetings are conducted.

The article maintained that, according to Robert’s Rules of Order Newly Revised, Hightower made a legitimate motion to amend the main motion and it should have been voted up or down.  However, Mayor Nancy Vaughan with the support of City Attorney Chuck Watts ruled that the motion to amend had to be accepted by Councilmember Tammi Thurm who made the original motion.  And with that ruling Hightower’s motion to amend was ignored.

According to Roberts Rules of Order, one way to amend a motion is by substitution, and Hightower did refer to her motion as a substitute motion, which technically is not correct, but it is not uncommon for city councilmembers to “misname” motions, usually those motions are considered despite the councilmember calling it by the wrong name.

But the issue has brought up the question of what rules govern Greensboro City Council meetings.

City Attorney Chuck Watts stated in an email about the way the Greensboro City Council conducts meetings, “We do not use RROO [Robert’s Rules of Order].”

But, there is strong evidence that the City Council is in fact required to conduct its meetings according to Roberts Rules of Order.

The Greensboro – Code of Ordinances Sec. 2-22 states “Rules of Procedure. Except where otherwise provided by law or ordinance, the procedure of the city council shall be governed by Robert’s Rules of Order.”

According to city ordinance, the meetings are required to be conducted according to Robert’s Rules of Order, which is the most popular guide to parliamentary procedure in the country with about 80 percent of organizations using it to conduct meetings.

And it raises the question: If Robert’s Rules of Order are not being used to conduct City Council meetings as required by ordinance, what rules are being used?