Pella Chronicle

April 16, 2013

Controversy at Board of Health meeting


Journal-Express

Knoxville — Director Karen Goff of the Marion County Board of Health threatened to walk out of Tuesday morning's meeting because of the way the meeting was being run. 

Chair Pat Van Zante, along with Public Health Director Kim Dorn, recently attended a Governor's Conference. At this conference, they attended a session that addressed Robert's "Rules of Order" and its proper use during board meetings.

The bylaws of the Board of Health, adopted June 20, 2006 and revised Dec. 12, 2012, indicate that Robert's "Rules of Order, Revised" will govern board meetings in all cases wherein they do not conflict with the board's bylaws. 

Van Zante was concerned about the way the previous board meeting ran and wanted to provide some structure to the meetings. Goff also expressed concerns about the "interruptions and side conversations" that took place in March. 

"I thought we were interrupted a lot," Goff said. 

Goff's actions regarding Robert's Rules was triggered with a discussion regarding Dorn's evaluation. Dorn's last evaluation was held in November, but Van Zante proposed moving Dorn's next evaluation to May, to align it with other personnel reviews. 

Craig Agan, who represents the Marion County Board of Supervisors on the Board of Health, disagreed. 

"I wouldn't support that," Agan said. "Kim has been instructed to do her employee evaluations before we do hers." 

Agan made a motion to move the evaluation. Moving the evaluation was not listed on the posted agenda, and Van Zante indicated that motions had to be written. 

Agan stated that it would have been more proper for the decision, to closely follow Robert's rules, be made by the entire board. Goff agreed, saying that she is not comfortable with her role on the board yet. She was concerned about making decisions on things she was not fully informed about. 

"I don't like coming to meetings I'm not prepared for," Goff said. "I will not be a part of a Board of Health that operates like this." 

At this point, Goff threatened to walk out of the meeting. This would have left the board without a quorum. There are five voting members on the board, with only three present (Agan, Van Zante and Goff). If Goff had left, the meeting would have had to end. Board members Bryan Schaffer and Rebecca McKay were absent. 

Agan and Van Zante each asked Goff to reconsider leaving. Goff ultimately stayed. Van Zante offered more explanation as to why she was trying to implement Robert's rules.

"We're trying to impose some structure," Van Zante said. 

"Most organizations don't follow Robert's Rules of Order," Agan said. 

"This board has been out of control for some time," Van Zante said. She reaffirmed that the Board of Health's bylaws stated that Robert's Rules would be followed.

"The bylaws are a concern themselves," Agan said. 

Goff asked why the rules were going to be followed now. Tuesday's meeting was only Goff's second on the board. She asked why other board members had not received more advanced notification that the rules would be followed in this way. 

Van Zante explained that there were family conflicts that impeded her ability to notify them properly.

"I'm sorry it got thrown at you so hard," Van Zante said. 

"It doesn't look to me like we're prepared to do this," Agan added. His motion eventually passed, and Dorn's evaluation will be held in November. Van Zante wanted to defer this decision until the entire board was present. This was not approved. 

The discussion about Robert's Rules continued during Dorn's Director's Report. 

"Robert's Rules are very restrictive," Agan said. He said he took a class on this subject at an Iowa Association of Counties meeting, and believes a discussion should take place before the board commits to further implementing Robert's Rules. 

Van Zante supports the use of Robert's Rules, given the amount of power the Board of Health can wield. She believes it puts the board on more solid, legal ground. 

The decision of whether or not to continue with Robert's Rules is expected to be on the board's next agenda. 

Much more discussion and action took place at Tuesday's meeting. Look for a full report in an upcoming edition of The Chronicle.