LEONARDTOWN, Md. — Although most government meetings could be considered calm, the St. Mary’s County Redistricting Board’s meeting on Nov. 30 started hot with the board chair Richard Johnson and the St. Mary’s County government’s attorney David Weiskopf loudly arguing throughout the first 30 minutes.
Immediately after initial introductions, a shouting match between Johnson and Weiskopf erupted. The arguing began when Weiskopf was yelling at Johnson from his seat for insisting the board use Robert’s Rules of Order, even though Weiskopf stated it was not approved for the board.
“If you are going to say St. Mary’s County boards use Robert’s Rules of Order, and you are going to read from something that I have signed. I am asking you to tell me the title,” Weiskopf said, asking Johnson to identify the document he said guided him to this procedure. “The other governing bodies in this county do not use Robert’s Rules of Order.”
Pictured: David Weiskopf(Left) and Richard Johnson(Right).
For those who do not know, Robert’s Rules of Order is a manual for a parliamentary procedure that governs most organizations with a board of directors. The newest version comprises 700 pages of procedures, which can make it difficult to reference during a meeting.
However, Weiskopf mentioned that Robert’s Rules of Order should not apply in this situation either way, since this is a board of five rather than a parliament. The proper procedure would be to use the rules of order for small governing bodies approved by the St. Mary’s County Board of Commissioners rather than the regular Robert’s Rules of Order, which has been customary for St. Mary’s county for years. If not that, then follow Robert’s Rules for small boards.
As the meeting went, Weiskopf continued to criticize Johnson for his methods. Johnson continued dominating the meeting as he discussed public testimony and talking points, which Weiskopf mentioned were outside the agenda.
Then, Johnson tried to approve the board’s draft maps since he believed that the three members who voted to approve it would not rescind their votes. As he tried to adjourn the meeting, Weiskopf ran to the front and stopped him.
“You’ve gone completely nuts. You can not do that. There was no vote on the meeting,” Weiskopf said.
After the previous discussions ended, two board members rescinded the maps. Johnson had issues with the members rescinding their votes because of the procedure through Robert’s Rules of Order.
Draft map to be revised before the final meeting.
However, the board looked at the revised maps and found some key issues. For example, board member Lance Johnson said the odd shapes of multiple districts looked problematic.
“It looks like we’re doing a lot of gerrymandering,” Johnson explained.
Vice-Chair Matthew Burgan also said the original map looks gerrymandered. The discussion closed with board member Patricia Richardson motioning for a revised map to be approved that can continue to be fine-tuned, and they passed it 5-0.
Even with this vote, the final vote will not be until Dec. 7, where it will be forwarded to the St. Mary’s County Commissioners by Dec. 14.
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