THE SAUGUS ADVOCATE – Friday, June 28, 2019 Page 7 A resolution on resolutions Special Town Meeting votes unanimously to set up procedures on nonbinding resolutions By Mark E. Vogler T own Counsel John Vasapolli told members at Monday’s Special Town Meeting that he still doesn’t feel comfortable with members considering nonbinding resolutions that aren’t on the warrant. Vasapolli advised members that no action of a Town Meeting is valid unless it first appears on the warrant. But in the end that didn’t bother Town Meeting members who voted 36-0 for the new measure that allows any member to submit a nonbinding resolution within 48 hours. “Stop the nonsense once and for all,” former Town Moderator Bob Long told the 50-member body. Long took the position that resolutions have been introduced for decades on the floor of Saugus Town Hall without a need to require they appear on the Town Meeting warrant. “This nonsense of whether it should be on the warrant or not really is that [nonsense],” Long said. He added that anyone knowledgeable of Robert’s Rules of Order would have no problem understanding why resolutions should be permitted without having to put them on the warrant. Veteran Town Meeting Member William Stewart shared a recent email exchange he had with Town Meeting Moderator Steve Doherty. Stewart told Doherty he was “very disappointed” when Doherty announced he had contacted moderators from towns around the state to obtain a ruling that would not allow Precinct 5 Town Meeting Member Ron Wallace to introduce his resolution supporting school custodians. “If you had contacted either Richard Barry or Robert Long, both former Moderators of Saugus [Town Meeting], you would have found out that Robert’s Rules of Order is the booklet that has been used for the last century to determine the method of communication in Town Meeting,” Stewart wrote. Doherty responded that it wasn’t the first time he had heard of Robert’s Rules and its position in Town Meeting resolutions. “If you can tell me where, in Robert’s Rules, it mentions ‘Town Meetings’ or ‘Town Warrants,’ I’d love to know. Because I couldn’t find any reference to either,” Doherty wrote. “Robert’s Rules is a guidebook of meeting etiquette. Our Town Charter, Town By-Laws and State Laws are where our meeting rules-of-the-road are found,” he said. To that, Stewart answered, “1) While I cannot show you where Resolutions are authorized, neither can you show me where they are forbidden, 2) Saugus Town Meeting has a history going back at least 50 years of allowing Resolutions, 3) The Boston City Council allows Resolutions, 4) The state Legislature allows Resolutions.” Former Saugus Town Meeting Member Peter Manoogian contributed to the discussion with a 2009 opinion he had received from Vasapolli. “Nonbinding resolutions are provided for in Roberts Rules of Order,” Vasapolli had written Manoogian. “I believe you have introduced a number of resolutions over the years which have been voted by town meeting. All resolutions are nonbinding. A committee may be created by resolution,” Vasapolli wrote. “However, any action of a committee created by a resolution could only be valid after being voted upon by town meeting on subject matter contained in a warrant.” Article 3, which was passed by the Annual Town Meeting, adds a new section 214.00 to the Town of Saugus Bylaws in subcategory 200 of “Government of Town Meeting” that will be titled ‘Resolutions”: Any Town Meeting member may propose a nonbinding resolution, with 48 hours written or electronic notice to the Saugus Town Clerk not counting weekends and holidays. The Saugus Town Clerk will promptly notify the Moderator upon receipt of said resolution and forward said resolution to Town Meeting Members. Resolutions may not seek to appropriate funds, propose zoning or general bylaw changes or have any binding effect on the operation of town government. 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