Source: Sherman Publications

Council nixes sergeant-at-arms for unruly

by David Fleet

October 16, 2013

Goodrich- Unruly council meetings will not be refereed at least for now.

On Monday night the village council took no further action to establish a sergeant-at-arms following a suggestion on Sept. 9 by Council President Pro Tem Mark Baldwin.

“It’s the rule of order,” he said. “We are all neighbors, we have to have respect for all at the village meetings.”

Baldwin’s suggest comes after several heated exchanges between council members and those in the audience. Many times the three minute public comments at the start of the meeting have prompted responses from not only council members, but also those attending.

“Do we want a sergeant-at-arms?” asked Rick Horton, council president. “Several years ago we even had a police officer at the meetings. We don’t really need it. Ninety-nine percent of the time board members just listen. Very seldom does the board get in a conversation with those in the audience. If it gets out of control—they can go outside although they might not like it.”

A sergeant-at-arms measure would be needed, Baldwin had suggested, “to help us follow protocol and parliamentary procedure.” A sergeant-at-arms could issue two warnings before having people removed from the property for not following procedure.

“We had many conversations going on in the audience,” Baldwin said.

According to the Michigan Muncipal League, such a move would be a rarity in the state where sergeant-at-arms positions are no longer a common feature at public board meetings.

“There’s no need for a sergeant-at-arms,” said Doug McAbee, council member. “It’s our job to not let (meetings) get out of control. We need to set a good example and help control the unruly.”

Councilmembers Pete Morey and Richard Saroli were absent from the meeting on Monday night.