Commission met under ‘rolling quorum’

CNJ staff

Curry County commissioners probably didn’t violate any rules by voting on issues without a majority of commissioners present on Tuesday, officials said.

When the meeting began, Frank Blackburn, Robert Sandoval and Caleb Chandler — three of the five county commissioners — were present. But Chandler was soon called away for a family emergency, Sandoval announced.

Sandoval and Blackburn continued with the meeting, approving a 12-item consent agenda, three agreements and a resolution.

Commissioner Wendel Bostwick joined by telephone later in the meeting, in time for a presentation on a judicial complex needs analysis and voted his approval.

County Attorney Stephen Doerr said the commission conducted the meeting under what’s classified as a “rolling quorum,” meaning as long as a quorum is present at the meeting’s start, it doesn’t matter if members come and go while business is conducted.

Sarah Welsh, executive director of New Mexico’s Foundation for Open Government, agreed no state sunshine laws appear to have been violated.

Welsh said unless a body has parliamentary rules prohibiting a rolling quorum (or majority), it is fairly common practice for public bodies to conduct business if they begin with a quorum and something arises that causes members to leave unexpectedly.

“I wouldn’t want to see it become a regular practice,” she said. “From the standpoint of what the people elected them to do, it’s probably a good idea to have a quorum.”