December 22, 2011
It wouldn't come as a shock that the city commission's newest member, Ward II's Rev. Ivey Hines, would have an issue with alcohol consumption. After all he is a pastor.
But based on his voting record in his first two official meetings, Hines has picked up a trait from his neighbor at the table from Ward I -- voting against everything dealing with alcohol.
But with Hines, it hasn't been a simple matter of voting against alcohol-related issues per se, he abstains from voting on each alcohol vote which isn't counted as "NO" vote, but also isn't counted as "Yes" vote.
Roberts Rules of Order, the standard guideline for parliamentary procedure, defines an abstention as "a decision not to make a decision" on any given issue.
**The phrase “abstention votes” is an oxymoron, an abstention being a refusal to vote. To abstain means to refrain from voting, and, as a consequence, there can be no such thing as an “abstention vote,” Roberts Rules of Order website.
And, under the city charter, an issue brought before the city commission can't pass unless it receives at least FOUR votes.
Ordinarily, Hines' decision to abstain from voting usually wouldn't have an impact. But if, on any given voting meeting, two or more commissioners are absent and Hines and Howard are present and vote the way they have typically, any and all alcohol permits and licenses would fail.
At Tuesday's voting meeting, Howard and Ward VI Commissioner Tommie Postell were absent and all of the alcohol-related issues past by only four votes -- Albany Mayor Willie Adams, Ward III Commissioner Christopher Pike, Ward IV Commissioner Roger Marietta and Ward V Commissioner Bob Langstaff.
Typically elected officials or appointees on government boards abstaining from voting for one of two reasons. Either they have a conflict-of-interest with some facet of the issue being considered or they don't have enough information to make an intelligent decision on the matter, and typically city commissioners and county commissioners give some sort of reason as to why they're abstaining when they do. But, at this point, Hines has not.