Greatly simplified Parliamentary rules of order

By Steve Cichon
steve@buffalostories.com
@stevebuffalo

Most people who’ve ever served on a board or been a member of a large club have heard of Robert’s Rules of Order, which calls itself “the most widely used reference for meeting procedure and business rules in the English-speaking world.” First written in 1896, there have been eleven editions, and the paperback is as long as 816 pages.

These rules are supposed to make meetings more orderly, more fair, more concise, and geared to help accomplish more in less time.

Many of the basic ideas of Robert’s Rules are often woven into a group’s governing bylaws—things like recognizing a chairperson, quorum, executive sessions, the preparation and availability of agendas and minutes, etc.

We follow Robert’s Rules and we don’t even know it. Fundamental principles found in the book include ideas like having one question discussed at a time; one person, one vote; and a vote being limited to members present.

It’s basic Parliamentary procedure, which considers the rights of the majority, the minority, individual members and all of these groups taken together.

The National Association of Parliamentarians writes:

Parliamentary procedure refers to the rules of democracy—the commonly accepted way in which a group of people come together, present and discuss possible courses of action, and make decisions.

The most recent edition says Robert’s Rules should “enable assemblies of any size, with due regard for every member’s opinion, to arrive at the general will on the maximum number of questions of varying complexity in a minimum amount of time and under all kinds of internal climate ranging from total harmony to hardened or impassioned division of opinion.”

The book is written like that: Most sentences have to be read a few times. Basically, that last one said, “Lots of people. Every opinion counts. General will be done. As little time as possible.”

Knowing that most groups follow Robert’s Rules to some degree or not, even if it isn’t expressed, I like to introduce a very simplified version of Robert’s Rules for the very basic rules of discussion and meeting.

These are a few basic ideas discussed in Robert’s Rules over dozens of pages, boiled down into a few simple sentences to help facilitate better discussion for everyone, to put us all on the same page.


These shall apply to all board discussions both in person and email:

  • All comments are addressed to the chair.

To facilitate easier and more orderly discussion, members do not address to one another and discussion goes through the chair.

  • In order for any discussion to ensue, there must be a motion before the board, and it must be seconded. Discussion is limited to the motion before the board.

During these discussions, offering personal opinions and experiences and advocating for causes and beliefs is encouraged. Personal attacks, abuse language, and disparaging the ideas of others will not be tolerated.

  • Call the question

At any point during a debate, if half those present agree to end debate and vote, debate is ended and there is a vote.

 

Having clear, concise, fair rules are important to maintain order and civility, and when simple rules are spelled out, it becomes much easier for everyone to play along– or understand why they are being called out for not doing so.

John Otto’s Love Rubs Off: The best ever never lost his fire and passion

By Steve Cichon | steve@buffalostories.com | @stevebuffalo

johnottopicSometimes the way life lines a series of seemingly unrelated events like lights on an airport runway can make a guy pause and question his sanity, because the answer is almost too clear.

For the past three days, I’ve been filling in for John Zach on Buffalo’s Early News on WBEN. The four-hour news show starts at 5am, and John does most of the writing when he’s here. For me, that meant getting up at 2:45am, in order to give myself about 90 minutes to put the local news together. John gets here earlier than that, and has been doing it just about every day for most of the 50 years he’s worked in radio.

I question myself often, would I be able to do this; get up like this. I did early morning weekends for a few years, but in 19 years of broadcasting, never a regular Monday-Friday, in-to-get-the morning show ready gig. John, who has worked the morning shift in parts of 7 different decades has said, “You never get used to it.”

I’ve filled in on the shift before, even for just a week or two, and always walked around feeling like a two-hour old grilled cheese; still crusty and gooey, but crusty and gooey in the wrong places. I just didn’t feel right, and never felt like I sounded as good as I could or should. And it always bothers me that when I set my alarm for 2:45am, my wife is rattled awake, too.

But this week, in the midst of working this early morning shift, one of the guys at work was cleaning out some files and handed me an old envelope he thought I might be interested in labeled MASTER TAPES– JOHN OTTO HALL OF FAME. Aside from being a master of the English language, the father of talk radio in Buffalo, and one of the top 5 broadcasters to ever grace the airwaves in Buffalo, John is somewhat of a personal hero to me.

Needless to say, I snatched the envelope, and delved inside not only to find hours of reels, cassettes, and DATs (an early digital tape format), but I also found a paper-filled folder labelled “John Otto.”

On top were a couple dozen e-mails and cards sent to WGR in the days following John’s death. Touching memories from fans and friends far and wide. Beautiful and filled with raw emotion. Then came John’s handwritten professional biography, tracing his radio career from the early 50s to the late 90s, only a year or so before his passing.

johnottoautograph

But what I found most gratifying were the notes that had been sent back and forth over the years to a succession of 5 or 6 supervisors at WGR. And while even a John Otto note complaining about a co-worker’s tardiness or an equipment problem flows across the paper the way a ballerina glides across the stage, that’s still not the point.

It started to strike me when I saw the note he wrote in 1995 asking to work Christmas Eve, Christmas, New Years Eve, and New Years Day. He was begging to work those days. Days most of us would curse the boss who forced us to work, but here, 43 years into his broadcasting career, and John’s tone was nearly inconsolable, worried that some other program might pre-empt his conference call of all interested parties.

In case the point be lost, John writes it quite plainly in one note. “The very principle on which I’ve always conducted myself, to wit, if one is in radio, you want to be on radio at every opportunity.”

After an illness took him off the air for a spell, he wrote in another missive that he’s ready to come back “if you’ll have me,” adding, ” My appetite is restored, miracle of all, my taste buds are a-bloom once more. You’ve got no idea what life is like without the ability to taste… ’til you’ve not got it.”

John Otto, almost 50 years into his career had such a fire in his belly for it. Not a soul better, universally lauded; but still fearful that it could be taken away. Would that we all felt that way about anything in our lives, let alone our job.

It made me think of my friend Ed Little, who was that way, too. He worked a tremendous 62 years in radio, starting as a child actor. I was with him in 2000 when he delivered his last newscast on WBEN, also the last program to originate from the studios on Elmwood Avenue.

Septuagenarian Ed couldn’t get a handle on the new computers, despite going through extra training on his own. Within a few months, he passed away. His heart was bad, but I know it was a broken heart, too.

Twenty years ago, my fire was inexhaustible. I can remember going to work as an 18 year old within hours of my grandma’s cancer death.

Thinking back on it, it makes me sad that I went in to board op Buffalo’s Evening News that night, and didn’t spend the time with my family. But that’s what I was and what I did. I think I’ve learned a little about life and about work since then.

Family’s much more important. I write books. I have a website. I’m on Boards of Directors, and I give talks about Buffalo History. I also work a pretty much 9-5 job these days. It’s not often I’m challenged to see how hot that fire burns.

I know it there, because it has to be there to be working in radio, or in any number of jobs similar in that there really isn’t much money. And its not the fame or the notoriety,either. Its having the blessing of doing a job that thousands would line up behind you to do for free. And just having that job, and being blessed with the gift of it, and being able to live a dream. And not wanting to give it up for the world.

So I’ve been thinking about whether or not I could work the morning shift, and the answer is of course. And though I sometimes play the curmudgeon, and complain about getting up early on those days when the job calls for it, the fact of the matter is, I’d do just about whatever they told me to do to keep it going. And this week, I even loved the early mornings. Loved every minute of hosting that show with Susan Rose. Loved it with that John Otto fire.

Just today, I read a Forbes Magazine article, which talks about the only three questions employers need to ask perspective employees. I say, you only need to ask one of those three. Will you love this job?

If the answer is no, go find something else. When I say love, I mean LOVE. Not ‘like the hours,’ or the pay, or the doors it might open. Love the job. Put your heart into it. Life is just too short.

“You know me,” John Otto closes one note with, “I just want to be on the radio.” Me too.

Jack Anthony’s Legacies: Squeezing out Every Last Opportunity to Give

jackanthonyJack Anthony is larger than life in many ways.

His physical presence is commanding. At first it’s the tall frame and broad shoulders of a man you wouldn’t want to tangle with that you notice, but then it’s the smirk and gleam in his eye that capture your attention and leave you to wonder what fun this guy’s about to get into.

And while most of us hope to leave a legacy of some sort, Jack lives among legacies too many to count. He’s hoping to add one more big one.

Having grown up in the Parkside neighborhood, Jack has been a civic leader here for parts of seven decades. A lifelong member and leader at Central Presbyterian Church, he was also a co-founder of the Parkside Community Association 49 years ago. The reason for that first meeting in his parents living room was the invasion of unethical real estate people whispering that ‘blacks are moving in and it’s time to sell.’

Jack stood up to say ‘yes they are, and welcome.’ It wasn’t a popular notion in 1963, but it gained steam, and helped save the neighborhood we love today from being overrun by those sales people only looking to make a fast buck by buying low and selling high at any cost.

His most recent neighborhood effort was at the forefront of getting The People’s Park up and running, where dozens enjoy a nice break next to the TriMain Building on Main Street.

JackAnthonyBuffaloNewsJack’s also a family man, with second and third generations of his big mixed clan involved in the affairs of the neighborhood. Spending decades as a Buffalo school teacher, he spread a message of being good to one another to a couple generations of kids.

But even with all those accomplishments and legacies, the biggest impact came as the Director of Cradle Beach camp. Jack gave his summers for decades so thousands of kids who may not have had much else to look forward to had not only some fun, but maybe walked or wheeled away with a slightly different outlook.

After a life of service to others, Jack is spending more time this days trying to keep his own brain going properly. He suffers from Lewy Body Dementia, as you may have seen when his photo (right) was featured in the Buffalo News a little bit ago.

Even as dementia slowly steals away the mind of the man who has spent a lifetime giving so much, he’s working on the biggest plan yet, and hoping to raise $125,000 to build the Jack Anthony pavilion at Cradle Beach Camp, so that he might continue to help future generations of campers once he’s no longer able to be there physically.

Many of you know Jack, and will want to help. Even if you don’t know Jack, and have enjoyed a Parkside Tour of Homes, Chili Cookoff, Halloween Party, or even a nice walk through our beautiful neighborhood, you owe Jack. Please consider a donation to help this great man and man of the people fulfill another selfless wish–

https://www.cradlebeach.org/donation

Buffalo in the 50’s: Downtown, Black Rock First Ward, and The Fruit Belt in Color

Buffalo, NY – Here are dozens of beautiful photos showing downtown, areas along the Black Rock Canal that have been replaced with the 190, and photos of the Fruit Belt neighborhood devastated by the building of the 33 Expressway, great old downtown flicks, a few from the First Ward, and even some shots from “out in the country.”

These photos are mostly from 1957 & 1958.

Becky Harbison had a car trunk full of old slides rescued from the home of a relative, who obviously had a great love for some of the more interesting scenes around Buffalo in the late 50s.

Read more about William Harbison (and see a few more GREAT slide) here. We scanned in the slides, and here they are… Along with a few other slides I had laying around.

Church & Franklin
Church & Franklin
Cherry & Goodell
Cherry & Goodell
20a near Orchard Park
20a near Orchard Park
Thruway toll booths
Parkside-Zoo streetcar, Erie overpass
Downtown
Downtown
Lafayette Square, Kleinhans
Lafayette Square, Kleinhans
West Side Rowing Club
Washington at Virginia
Tug Oklahoma, Irving L Clymer. Black Rock Canal, 1957
South Wales Depot
Sewer Authority
Sacred Heart Academy Washington Street
Rt 16 in Holland
219– road to Bradford
Public School 15 from Ellicott Square Bulding
Ash & Genesee, Police Precinct 4
Old Police Barns
Ohio St, Louisiana St, St Clair St, First Ward
Niagara Section (I-190) anf Massachusetts Pumping Station
Michigan & South Park
Michigan & Scott
Michigan & Genesee
Massachusetts Ave Pumping Station
Goodell & Washington
Goodell & Washington
Goodell & Demond Alley Lux Funeral Home
Goode3ll & Demond Alley
Franklin & Court
Forest Lawn/Mt St Joseph Academy
Forest Lawn Millard Fillmore grave
Forest Lawn
Foot of Erie Street
Ferry Street from Gull Street
Foot of Ferry Street
Ferry St Bridge
Ferry St Bridge
Ferry St Bridge
Ferry St Bridge
Ferry St Bridge
Ferry St Bridge from Bird Island
Ferry St Bridge from Bird Island
Ferry St Bridge
Ferry St Bridge
Ferry Street and Rowing Club from Canada
Niagara St & Ferry St
Niagara St & Ferry St
Niagara St & Ferry St
Niagara St & Ferry St
Niagara St & Ferry St
Niagara St & Ferry St
Fairmont Creamery
Fairmont Creamery
Edmund P Smith
Edmund P Smith
Edmund P Smith
Edmund P Smith
Delaware & Huron
Delaware & Huron
County Hall, Delaware Ave Side
County Hall, Delaware Ave Side
Cotters Grill, First Ward
Cotters Grill, First Ward
Cotters Grill, First Ward
Cotters Grill, First Ward
Coal Dock from canal terminal
Coal Dock from canal terminal
Church & Franklin NFT Bus
Church & Franklin NFT Bus
Central Book Store
Central Book Store
Barge Robert M Trotter and tug at Black Rock
Barge Robert M Trotter and tug at Black Rock
SS Irvin L Clymer at Black Rock
SS Irvin L Clymer at Black Rock
Pioneer at Black Rock
Pioneer at Black Rock
Niagara Mohawk at Black Rock
Lydon at Black Rock
Lydon at Black Rock
HL Gobeille at Black Rock
HL Gobeille at Black Rock
Freighter at Black Rock
Freighter at Black Rock
Black Rock Canal at Ferry Street
Black Rock Canal at Ferry Street
Black Rock shoreline tug boat
Black Rock shoreline tug boat
Ball Brothers, Black Rock Canal
Ball Brothers, Black Rock Canal
Black Rock Canal
Black Rock Canal, Meyer Malt
Bird Ave at Soldiers Pl
Bird Ave at Soldiers Pl, Frank Lloyd Wright Heath House
Allegheny State Park
Allegheny State Park
Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com
Reformatted & Updated pages from staffannouncer.com finding a new home at buffalostories.com

Donuts & Booze: Happy Birthday 60th Birthday, Dad

By Steve Cichon | steve@buffalostories.com | @stevebuffalo

Today my ol’man would have been 60 years old. I miss him, but he’s really not that far away… He fills my heart and my brain.

For example, were he around today, it would’ve gone like this: We’d walk in the door, and he’d yell in an exaggerated voice, “WHERE’S MY PRESENT? DID YOU BRING ME A DONUT?”

He was racked with pain and depression most of the time towards the end, and it was always nice to see him happy and fired up.

Now as far as that present, I think he knew more often than not what I’d be giving him, but I don’t think he allowed himself to expect it. To add the gravitas of it all, I often brought it over unwrapped in it’s natural state.

The boisterousness would instantly turn to whisper, and his Marine Corps-bred instincts would kick in.

DAD DRINKING AN OLD MILWAUKEE TALL BOY, 1984
DAD DRINKING AN OLD MILWAUKEE TALL BOY, 1984

“Don’t tell your mother,” he’d much too loudly whisper, brown bottle in hand. As he’d begin to think of a good hiding spot, it would dawn on him.

“Why didn’t you get me the bigger bottle?,” he’d demand, back in that same tone as Where’s my present but at a hushed volume.

It was an ongoing discussion between Dad and me. He’d rather have a $7 two gallon jug of whiskey from the paint thinner aisle of the liquor store, but I’d always buy him one of those smaller, flat-plastic-flask-shaped bottles, like you find laying around the park on a Saturday or Sunday morning. The kind of bottles they keep behind the counter. The kind of bottles Kesslers or Old Grandad don’t usually come in.

Dad wanted more, and wanted it to be cheaper for me. I wanted to give my ol’man a taste, but not too much. He was a diabetic, was on about a million pills. The booze messed with his blood sugar and some of those pills. He didn’t care. He liked a little whiskey in his iced tea or diet ginger ale or diet lemon-lime.

The bottle also had to be plastic, because the diabetic neuropathy dad had in his hands was so bad, he could barely feel them. His hands didn’t work too well.

So it was a small plastic bottle, and I was happy to be the ol’man’s hook up. Of course you hope he’ll live forever, but if you told my dad that by giving up booze he’d live another six months, he would have comically shoved a glass in your face and told you to Fill’er up.

He smoked on and off from the time he was in grade school, and ate more donuts than any other diabetic heart patient in the history of man. Those were his choices. And though they made me sad, and I’d encourage otherwise constantly, I couldn’t make the decision for him. Same with the booze. The only thing stopping him from having a drink was his inability to get to the liquor store.

Now he wasn’t an alcoholic or anything, but he liked a drink. And didn’t care what it did to him. His rough physical state of well being was actually better than his sorry emotional state, so making him happy was important to me. And I’m pretty sure getting that bottle as a gift made him happier than the actual drinking did.

Also, inevitably would come the reminder that we had to be nice to him because it was his birthday, and because he was moving soon, and not going to tell us where he was moving to.

“Some honey just told your ol’man he looks like he’s about 28,” he’d say, just like he had at probably every birthday since he was 29.

Dad died way too young, but I’m glad not before at could laugh at his stupid jokes and the dumb things he’d say over and over again. I see a few people I’m close to finally appreciating their parents as people for the first time, and enjoying them with all their faults. It’s tough with parents, because it’s literally a lifetime’s worth of baggage we carry in dealing with them.

For dad’s birthday, please do him the honor of trying to accept some of the stupid stuff your mom or dad might do. And please give them a hug and tell them you love ’em.

I did that all the time with dad, and it still doesn’t feel like it was enough.

Happy birthday, ol’man.