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Municipal Technical Advisory Service (MTAS)

Original Author: Norris, Margaret
Date of Material: 05/17/2019

Meetings--Planning and management
City council--Procedure

MTAS on Robert's Rules of Order

Reviewed Date: 07/16/2021
A series of brief, instructive articles explaining the use Robert's Rules of Order for cities and towns in Tennessee. The series starts with the history of the Robert's Rules parliamentary procedures and delves into everything from making a motion to adjourning a meeting.

Article 1. Introduction and History

MTAS legal and management consultants often receive inquiries into parliamentary procedures and questions as to whether a motion passed or not. Many cities have chosen to adopt Robert’s Rules of Order as their guideline for conducting meetings. This is not a requirement since municipalities may opt to create their own rules of procedures. There are a few examples of other options in Knowledgebase. However, with so many Tennessee cities and towns choosing to adopt Robert’s Rules of Order we will be reviewing some of the key points and common misconceptions in the attached articles. This first article provides a bit of history about who “Robert” was. 

The following excerpt is taken from the “Official Robert’s Rules of Order Website”:

Henry Martyn Robert was an engineering officer in the regular Army. Without warning he was asked to preside over a public meeting being held in a church in his community and realized that he did not know how. He tried anyway and his embarrassment was supreme. This event, which may seem familiar to many readers, left him determined never to attend another meeting until he knew something of parliamentary law.
Ultimately, he discovered and studied the few books then available on the subject. From time to time, due to his military duties, he was transferred to various parts of the United States where he found virtual parliamentary anarchy since each member from a different part of the country had differing ideas of correct procedure. To bring order out of chaos he decided to write Robert's Rules of Order as it came to be called.
The tenth, current, edition has been brought about through a process of keeping the book up to date with the growth of parliamentary procedure. All editions of the work issued after the death of the original author have been prepared by persons who either knew and worked with the original author or are connected to such persons in a direct continuity of professional association.

The additional attached articles cover some of the most common issues that councils and boards encounter in the course of conducting the business of the city or town. If you have additional questions, contact your MTAS management consultant.

Main Document(s):
file Introduction and history.doc
file 11th edition of the book.doc
file Abstain versus pass.doc
file Adjourning.doc
file Agendas.doc
file Amending the Minutes.docx
file Consent agenda.doc
file Debate Part I.doc
file Debate Part II.doc
file How to make a motion.doc
file Mayoral voting.doc
file Minute acceptance.doc
file Minute Taking.doc
file Motion Makers Rights and Responsibilities.docx
file Motion to table vs motion to postpone.doc
file Nominations.doc
file Phrase that pays - words to use when making different motions.docx
file Point of order.doc
file Reconsider - rescind - amend something previously adopted.doc
file Rights and Repsonsibilities of Mayor.doc
file Roll call voting and voting order.doc