Palatine Township agrees to hire parliamentarian to run meetings

  • Palatine Township board members have approved a policy that allows the hiring of a parliamentarian to run their meetings. It's part of an effort to keep meetings cordial and handle business properly.

      Palatine Township board members have approved a policy that allows the hiring of a parliamentarian to run their meetings. It's part of an effort to keep meetings cordial and handle business properly. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 1/23/2018 4:56 PM

Palatine Township board members have approved a policy that allows the hiring of a referee of sorts to run their meetings in an effort to remain cordial and handle business properly.

Under the resolution authorizing the hiring of a parliamentarian, the board must select someone "without regard to political affiliation and solely on the basis of fitness to perform the duties of the position." Parliamentarians are experts on meeting rules and enforce decorum, such as having only one speaker at a time and keeping personal confrontations at bay.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The township will pay an unspecified stipend to the parliamentarian, which officials expect to be more than an initially discussed $50 per meeting. To avoid conflicts or interest or appearance of impropriety, the parliamentarian can't be a township resident, have affiliations with sitting board members or be a current or former office holder.

Township Supervisor Sharon Langlotz-Johnson is among the elected officials looking forward to having the parliamentarian.

"Having a parliamentarian option for our board gives us the benefit of a person's expertise on meeting rules," Langlotz-Johnson said. "We hope to learn from the parliamentarian, the nuances and other rules none of us have complete knowledge of."

According to the resolution passed Monday night, the township must appoint someone accredited by the National Association of Parliamentarians, the American Institute of Parliamentarians or the Illinois Association of Parliamentarians. That appointment would be for regular voting board meetings and committee sessions, both of which typically are once a month.

Some township officials said they wanted the parliamentarian, in part, to end personal attacks at meetings. For example, minutes from an Oct. 23 meeting show Langlotz-Johnson stated she apologized in a telephone call to Trustee Andy-John Kalkounos for remarks she made to him at a September session.

In addition to being masters of the commonly used Robert's Rules of Order and other methods to ensure well-run meetings, a parliamentarian is expected to make sure board members keep their comments relevant to what is being discussed and prevent crosstalk.

While uncommon at suburban governments, parliamentarians are frequently used for larger legislative bodies, such as the U.S. House of Representatives.

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