Robert’s Rules Of Order Are Out Of Order In Naperville

In college, I took a physics class as a required course. It had nothing to do with my major. The entire class consisted of kids in the same situation. The professor lived and breathed for physics. The course book was the size of a Chicago phone book with the smallest font possible. After the first test, which everyone failed, the professor realizing he wasn’t teaching students majoring in physics, chose a different textbook, one matching our need to understand physics, which was nearly non-existent. The new book had large font, lots of pictures, and few pages. Perfect for me. I felt tremendous accomplishment earning a solid  C- as my final grade.

Now comes news that the Naperville city council wants to replace Robert’s Rules Of Order with their own set of rules and procedures. As a ‘Robert’ myself, I am personally offended by this assault on anything named ‘Robert’. It’s not Frank’s Rules of Order, or Ginger’s Rules of Order. It’s Robert’s. It’s been around since 1876. It’s been refined 11 times over the years. It took that long to finally get it right, and now the Naperville city council wants to throw it in the dumpster and be done with it in favor of creating their own rules and procedures.

So the Naperville city council is actually admitting that they don’t understand parliamentary procedures because they are too complex, and worse yet, they don’t have the desire or capacity to learn procedures that have been used for 140 years. Are we left to believe that previous Naperville city councils were brighter, wiser, and smarter than this group.

I get it that trying to understand the difference between a subsidiary, privileged, and incidental motions is not easy, but it wasn’t easy for me to learn how high a golf ball will bounce off of a marble floor. And it might be difficult for our council members to know the difference between ‘lay it on the table’, ‘place it on the table’, or ‘take it from the table’; and where exactly is the table? Nobody said it would be easy becoming a council member, but it wasn’t easy for me to figure out how far a bowling ball would roll down a hill on a hot, humid day in August, but I did it, at least until I took the test.

Just as I signed up for a major with required classes, council members campaigned for office knowing Robert’s Rules Of Order were part of the deal. I don’t need to know how fast a train will accelerate going down a two-mile hill without brakes, unless of course I am on that train. Naperville council members can’t walk away from something just because it’s difficult. They need to make the effort to learn the ‘tools of their trade”. I’m sure it’s difficult for most presenters during public forum to speak up, but they do it.

The only thing I remember learning in my physics class was, ‘how far can a grasshopper with a wooden leg kick a pancake into the forest?’ The answer is ‘half-way, because then he begins kicking it out of the forest’. That’s it. My folks would have been proud knowing that they paid part of my tuition for that.

The council can’t give up on ‘Robert’. There may come a time when they wish they had  ‘Robert’s Rules Of Order’ for a procedure they hadn’t planed on.I wish I would have learned why it is that when I drop anything, it always rolls under something.

Show 1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Ray Courney

    Good report. “Let’s kill all the lawyers”, but when we need one ………

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *