Author Topic: Tuesday morning: Oops, a big oops  (Read 1032 times)

Richard Johnson

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Tuesday morning: Oops, a big oops
« on: August 06, 2019, 10:26:03 AM »
After worship at the opening plenary, the secretary is called upon to report on a problem, for which he takes complete responsibility. It turns out the vote on the bylaws amendments last night did not meet one of the requirements for advance notice of the amendments (they have to be presented at least the day before they are voted on). That means the seating of the church council members as voting members was invalid. Which in turn means the first ballot for bishop was invalid. Which means Bishop Eaton has not yet been elected to a second term.

This is a nightmare for any secretary.

So the two actions are declared invalid, and now the constitutional amendments are brought back to the floor (legally). A voting member from North Dakota, who is a former church council member, suggests that the giving of the vote to church council members is too important to rush through and moves to postpone until an opportunity for hearings. A member from my synod whom I don't know opposes the motion in a somewhat incomprehensible way. Another member speaks in favor. She admits that when she voted yesterday she didn't really know what she was doing and was just following the crowd, wondering if the other 2/3 of members who are first-timers felt the same way. In response to a question, Sec. Boerger says that NO current member of the church council was elected as a voting member to the assembly by their synod, though that has sometimes happened in the past. Another member comes to ask a question: If we postpone the amendment, does that automatically postpone ballot for bishop? (He actually realizes the answer is no, but just wants it stated clearly.) Another member asks which synods exactly allow their synod councils to vote at the assembly, but the Secretary hasn't a clue. A member from Chicago Metro Synod asks if they can vote again on the other amendment (related to the Endowment) immediately. Yes. If the council members are added, do they add to the total, or do they take away seats from synod electees. They add to the total.

Another first time member says that the council SHOULD be voting, they are the most informed and experienced. A member wonders if we could ask bishops in synods where councils do vote at assembly to stand. The vice president (in the chair) thinks that really isn't relevant to the motion to postpone, but is convinced to allow it. Perhaps 20 or so stand. Bp. Riegle reminds the assembly that this is just a procedural motion to postpone, and we shouldn't be discussing the merits of the proposal (count this as a campaign appearance for this potential nominee for Secretary--he knows his parliamentary proprieties).

More inquiries and statements. Too bad people didn't think about this last night. A member tries to move the previous question, but because he spoke an explanatory sentence before making the motion, the chair rules the motion out of order. The next speaker moves the previous question. The chair calls for a vote, but there is confusion about what's being voted on. When he clarifies, all the green cards go up. But then the motion to postpone is defeated. So we're back to the motion to adopt the amendments en bloc.

An aside: this new provision that requires people to "check in" at the mic with their "voting card" is slowing things down.

A member calls for a division of the house on the previous motion to postpone (ridiculous; it wasn't close, but I suppose that's hard to see if you're sitting in the midst of the house. From the perspective of the chair, it was an easy call--and a correct one, from my perspective; but now we get to try the voting machines again).

The issue here really is whether the church council will be allowed to vote for presiding bishop. Hard to know whether their votes made a difference; my hunch would be that they would be largely supportive of Eaton, but who knows?

Parliamentary inquiry about whether a motion to postpone requires 2/3; parliamentarian rules a simply majority. On the motion to postpone, Yes 204, No 670 (see, I told you it wasn't close).

Back to the main motion: Now using the cards "in order to ensure that church council members are not voting". Large majority approves.

Now a motion to allow chair to amend agenda in order to have the election at the most opportune time. Request from chair for consent to extend plenary 15 minutes to allow for this ballot. Approved.

VP calls for bishops to distribute ballots for presiding bishop, but they don't have them. A moment of vamping. Calls for credentials report, and the committee reports 929 voting members--obviously not really right, since it includes church council members. A member raises that question, and it is confirmed that it includes church council members.

The vote is finally completed, to the relief of the vice president, and we stand to sing "Come thou fount."
« Last Edit: August 06, 2019, 09:48:12 PM by Richard Johnson »
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Richard Johnson

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Morning plenary post-oops
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2019, 11:12:41 AM »
The chair now calls on the chair of the nominating committee, who explains in detail the procedures for electing all the non-officer positions (church council, various agencies, etc.). It's a convoluted process, with nominations coming from various synods for various slots. By the time it comes to the assembly, there are generally two nominees. Floor nominations are accepted, if they follow an elaborate procedure, which the chair now outlines.

Now the presentation of the proposed statement on Faith, Sexism and Justice. Several leaders of the task force do the presentation, one of whom is co-chair Viviane Thomas-Breitfeld--who, as I mentioned above, has recently resigned from her position as bishop of the South Central Synod of Wisconsin at the nudging of her synod council. No mention of that here, of course. She is introduced as "bishop" though she apparently resigned as of yesterday. The other co-chair, Brad Wendel, now takes his turn. He is a professor of ethics at Cornell Law School. Both cochairs have called upon other task force members to speak about their own experiences.

Wendel admits that the statement is LONG. "We decided there was no way to avoid a long document if we were to take our responsibilities seriously." That's why there is a "short statement" and a "long statement." There will be hearings tonight on the social statement, and plenary discussion not until Friday.

Chair now calls on Wyvetta Bullock for first presentation on budget proposal. The proposal essentially projects a flatline income over the next three years (actually a very slight rising trend). Total income 2020: $89,878,325; 2021 $89,942,034; 2022 $90,007,018. Behind that, though, it should be noted that mission support--unrestricted money coming directly from congregations--actually shows a projected decline from $42,000,000 to $41,000,000. The proposed expenditures for 2020 are the same as income.

« Last Edit: August 06, 2019, 11:26:19 AM by Richard Johnson »
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS