Using a parliamentary ruse that was erroneous, a majority of Horry County Council voted to have no discussion before extending, for 60 more days, the emergency ordinance controlling countywide requirements and restrictions with respect to the ongoing Covid 19 situation.
Council member Al Allen requested the item calling for an extension of the emergency ordinance be moved from the consent agenda, where there is no discussion on any item before a vote, to a discussion item, where discussion of the extension would have occurred before a vote.
Immediately upon Allen making the request the ruse began. Council member Dennis DiSabato called a point of order stating that changing the agenda in such a matter requires a two-thirds majority vote of council.
County attorney Arrigo Carotti, who also acts as council’s parliamentarian, confirmed to council that this was a requirement.
Subsequent to Carotti’s input, a vote was held in which a motion to move the item to discussion failed by a 5-7 vote with the Deep Six (DiSabato, Harold Worley, Bill Howard, Cam Crawford, Gary Loftus and Tyler Servant) plus Orton Bellamy voting no.
The entire episode appeared to be orchestrated. I don’t believe DiSabato is sharp enough to come up with the objection he raised on his own and Carotti was too quickly on his feet to support DiSabato’s objection.
Orchestrated or not, voting on any council member’s request to move an item from the consent agenda to the regular, or discussion, agenda is counter to over 20 years of precedent on the council dais.
I have covered many county council meetings in the last two decades since the use of a consent agenda came into being under Chad Prosser’s term as chairman. Prosser initiated the consent agenda to accommodate the many rezoning requests of the late 1990’s and early 2000’s by not having each read and considered separately when the reading did not require public review.
Numerous times over that span, a council member has requested an item be moved from consent agenda to a discussion item. The move was always made by the chairman without a vote. I cannot recall one instance in which the change was even questioned.