Worcester City Council Procedure Questions

If you didn’t read last night’s City Council Peanut Gallery, you may have missed the following exchange:

Jose: Can someone explain to me why they keep immediately voting to reconsider, then voting exactly the same way?

Tracy: Jose, they do that so no one can call up tomorrow or the next day and say they want to “reconsider” the item, in which case it would go back on next week’s agenda.
Tracy: that means it’s done tonight
Tracy: but they have to suspend the rules to reconsider, so they have to vote to suspend the rules, then vote on whether they want to reconsider
Jose: Do they plan that ahead of time? Or Just do that for “big” votes?
Tracy: they do it for things that HAVE to move forward this week, always
Tracy: There are ones that they do plan ahead of time (that’s when you’ll see the Mayor say to the clerk, “do we need a reconsideration?’). Or sometimes they ask the Manager “Do you need this this week?”
So, you’ll see some times where there’s a vote taken, and someone (usually Clancy) will immediately say, “Motion to suspend the rules.”  Now, that councilor does not actually want to reconsider the vote.  What s/he wants is to make sure that the item they voted on happens this week.  (See Reconsideration in this helpful list of terms compiled by the City Clerk.)
The Council has to have a roll call (individually name-called by the clerk) vote on whether to suspend the rules to reconsider, and then have another roll call vote on whether to reconsider the original vote.  So, you’ll see the motion to suspend the rules, everyone (usually) will vote yes, and then you’ll see the motion to reconsider, and everyone (usually) will vote no.
Very confusing, and happens all the time.
(I personally find half the things that go on in the Council chambers confusing.)
Are there any other things that go on in Council meetings that you have questions about?   If you do, leave a comment below and we’ll find an answer (and eventually try to compile a FAQ for Council procedures).  And no, “does agreeing with Mike Germain mean that he’s right or that I’m crazy?” is not an acceptable question!
(Mad props to Tracy for providing such a good answer!) 

One thought on “Worcester City Council Procedure Questions

  1. Tracy says:

    The other reason it’s done is if you want something not to come back up. There are rules on how long a subject has to wait before being refiled, so if you don’t want to see something come back for months, you vote to reconsider, and then it won’t come back up for some time.
    And no problem. Glad to help. The only reason I know this (and thus was prepared to do this in School Committee) is from watching lots of Council meetings and occasionally asking the City Clerk a question. Mr. Rushford is very kind to those who want better to understand.

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