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A point of order ...

Procedural move redefines Health Board as a three-member panel

July 19, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — Although the most overt talk at Monday's Town Council meeting revolved around citizen's forum concerns about the landfill, the most significant almost flew by in passing.

Over the course of about 30 seconds, Councilor Richard Logan cited Robert's Rules of Order and a couple of Charter sections to ask Chairman Steven Lazo to rule the 2004 bylaw creating a five-person Board of Health "out of order."

Lazo did so, using a procedural rule to define that panel as the three-person board the charter says it is.

"This idea that the council can create a bylaw that circumvents the charter hasn't sat well with me," Logan said afterward.

Since almost everyone in the room later noted they'd had no clear idea of what had just happened, Logan explained his process. He said he told Lazo he was looking into the idea as a "heads-up," but didn't say much out of fear of violating the open meeting law.

Specifically, Logan said he posted a question as "John Higgins" regarding the conflict between charter and bylaws on the forum at RobertsRules.com, the official site of the association that issued and periodically revises the rules, which are the basic handbook of parliamentary procedure used by most government bodies and many private organizations.

Logan's question from the forum, dated June 20 at 3:22 a.m. was, "Several years ago my local government approved an action. It turns out this action violates our town charter. What is the proper way for the government to rescind or repeal this action?"

See Wednesday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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