Municipal Building
100 North Drive
Sewickley, PA 15143
Phone: 412-741-6555
Fax: 412-741-7062
info@aleppotownship.com
For Emergencies, Call 911

Hi, Neighbors. Engaging residents in their local government is one of our primary goals at Aleppo Township. As you know, we’ve developed a revolutionary system of recording our meetings, posting them to YouTube, and circulating a digest of what was discussed. The goal of this process is to make it possible for residents who can’t attend the meetings to stay connected with what is going on.

To make this system work, though, we’ve realized that what happens at the meeting needs to change a bit. The process of board action needs to be altered slightly to reflect the fact that a large portion of our audience is not present in the room and cannot respond to proposals that are made in real time. Our system needs to allow time for residents to provide feedback and keep track of action and proposed action from one meeting to the next.

In an effort to keep everybody on the same page about how this process works as it is evolving, we recorded a video explaining the fundamentals of the system. We covered some of the basic vocabulary of meeting procedure, explained how we’re trying to do it in Aleppo, and illustrated how we track it all. We hope that if everybody understands why we’re doing some of the things we’re doing, it will make it easier to participate.

The video is not long at about 20 minutes, but it’s got lots of information. If you want to watch it from the beginning, click here. Otherwise, feel free to click the links below to jump to portions of the presentation that are interesting to you.

Here’s what we covered:

General Principles And Sources of Rules

  • The rules of procedure for our meetings are governed by a document called the Rules for Board of Commissioners Meetings (the “Aleppo Meeting Rules“).
    • Click here to jump to this portion of the video.
    • Click here to read the Aleppo Meeting Rules themselves.
  • The president of the Board of Commissioners is the presiding officer of meetings. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)
  • The Aleppo Meeting Rules are not to be used to confuse issues or cause members to be hampered by needless procedural questions. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)
  • My overarching goal is to make residents aware of what is going on in their local government. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)
  • Our process for board action is designed to work with the digest system and get feedback from residents who watch the meetings online. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)
  • The Aleppo Meeting Rules adopt Robert’s Rules of Order as our general guide for procedure. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)

Basics Of Motions

  • A motion is a request that the Board take action. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)
  • The Board cannot take action without a motion. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)
  • Motions must be specific. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)
  • Writing motions in advance expedites the process. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)
  • Residents cannot accurately provide feedback to nonspecific motions. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)
  • A motion must be made before a topic may be discussed. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)

Main Motions and Subsidiary Motions

  • There is a difference between a Main Motion and a Subsidiary Motion. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)
  • A Main Motion brings substantive business before the Board. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)
  • A Subsidiary Motion aids in the disposal of other motions. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)
  • Subsidiary Motions may be used to change the Main Motion, postpone voting on the Main Motion, or get more information about the Main Motion. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)
  • Each Subsidiary Motion must be decided before the Main Motion is resolved. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)

The Meeting Process In Aleppo

  • Aleppo holds two meetings every month: a Workshop Meeting and a Legislative Meeting. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)
  • We generally vote on Main Motions of Importance only at the Legislative Meeting. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)
  • To have Main Motions ready for a vote at the Legislative Meeting, they need to be made and seconded at the Workshop Meeting the week before. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)
  • We may vote on Subsidiary Motions or inconsequential Main Motions at the Workshop Meeting. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)

Keeping Track Of Our Motions

  • We use a program called WorkFlowy and a list within WorkFlowy called the Action Log to track motions from one meeting to the next.
    • Click here to jump to this portion of the video.
    • Click here to watch a quick video about how to navigate in WorkFlowy.

How It All Works Together

  • We make our motions at Workshop Meetings and type them into the Action Log. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)
  • When we have a Main Motion of significant importance, we move to defer that Main Motion for one week to the next Legislative Meeting. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)
  • Between the Workshop Meeting and the Legislative Meeting, we send out a digest that includes the proposed action, a link to the video of the Workshop Meeting, and a request for feedback. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)
  • Residents should watch the video of issues that interest them and provide feedback by reply email. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)
  • At the Legislative Meeting, we will read any email received from citizens, re-open the subject for discussion, then vote. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)

Closing Thoughts

  • We welcome feedback on ways to improve this process. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)
  • We appreciate your patience as we work to make this system everything that it needs to be in order to support our goal of increasing citizen participation. (Click here to jump to this portion of the video.)

It’s really not as complicated as it may seem! I love the challenge of making this process better and better so that we get more and more residents involved. It’s your government and our goal is to make it easy for you to participate.

Thanks for watching!

Best wishes,

Matthew Doebler

Aleppo Township Commissioner