Richard Brown

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Everything posted by Richard Brown

  1. The word "consensus" is used in RONR only once, on the last page of the introduction, in a rather lengthy explanation of why it is not a good method for a deliberative assembly to use in making decisions. Here is the full text of that paragraph. The word "consensus" is used only once, in the first sentence: "Robert was surely aware of the early evolutionary development of parliamentary procedure in the English House of Lords resulting in a movement from "consensus," in its original sense of unanimous agreement, toward a decision by majority vote as we know it today. This evolution came about from a recognition that a requirement of unanimity or near unanimity can become a form of tyranny in itself. In an assembly that tries to make such a requirement the norm, a variety of misguided feelings—reluctance to be seen as opposing the leadership, a notion that causing controversy will be frowned upon, fear of seeming an obstacle to unity—can easily lead to decisions being taken with a pseudoconsensus which in reality implies elements of default, which satisfies no one, and for which no one really assumes responsibility. Furthermore, what is apparently taken to be the sense of the meeting may well be little more than a "least common denominator" of such generality as to contribute little to the solution of the practical problem involved, thereby leaving such matters to officers or staff or the meeting's organizers to work out according to their own intentions. Robert saw, on the other hand, that the evolution of majority vote in tandem with lucid and clarifying debate—resulting in a decision representing the view of the deliberate majority—far more clearly ferrets out and demonstrates the will of an assembly. It is through the application of genuine persuasion and parliamentary technique that General Robert was able to achieve decisions in meetings he led which were so free of divisiveness within the group. " (Note: "Robert", as used in the first sentence, refers to General Henry Robert).
  2. You can probably insist on pulling out that one item, but it depends on the exact nature of the situation. The motion "Division of a Question" is treated in RONR on pages 270-276. If the contracts to be approved are separate contracts, it seems to me they each involve a different subject matter and must be divided upon the demand of a single member. However, that is a determination that must be made depending on the circumstances. It seems to me, from my distant vantage point, that each contract is a separate and distinct subject. However, I don't get to have a say in this. Here is the rule from page 274 of RONR re when a motion must be divided upon the demand of a single member: "MOTIONS THAT MUST BE DIVIDED ON DEMAND. Sometimes a series of independent resolutions or main motions dealing with different subjects is offered in one motion. In such a case, one or more of the several resolutions must receive separate consideration and vote at the request of a single member, and the motion for Division of a Question [page 275] is not used. Such a demand (which should not be confused with a demand for a division of the assembly—that is, for a rising vote) can be made even when another has the floor, as in, "Mr. President, I call for a separate vote on Resolution No. 3." This demand must be asserted before the question on adopting the series has actually been put to vote. "
  3. That is, unfortunately, something your own board or executive committee must determine for itself... and hope that the general membership agrees with it lest the membership seek revenge of some sort.
  4. I disagree. I don't believe that submitting a resignation in writing to the secretary is the only way that a member can resign. I believe that if the officer verbally resigns IN A MEETING of the body which can accept her resignation, and if the body does in fact accept the resignation, the officer has in fact resigned and is no longer an officer. The resignation could be accepted directly, either by a vote or unanimous consent, or indirectly by the body appointing someone to fill the vacancy or calling for an election to fill the vacancy, whichever method is appropriate in this society. There are several reasons I take this position, among them the simple practical aspects of it all. Do any of us really expect the hands of the society to be tied for possibly months because the officer (director) who resigned in front of the whole board or the whole membership leaves in a huff and refuses to submit anything in writing to anyone? Sure, at some point the society can take the position that the director has abandoned her position, but how long will that take? Do we really expect the society to go through a removal from office procedure? Another reason is that I interpret the bylaw provision regarding submitting a resignation in writing to the secretary to be in the nature of a rule of order... a procedural rule.... which is the society's preferred way of trying to insure that the officer really intends to resign and to avoid a "he said, she said" reliance of an alleged and undocumented resignation by phone. Nothing can be much more certain and intentional that a resignation made before the entire body with no objection being made when the body proceeds to accept the resignation. If the resignation is accepted by unanimous consent or by more than a two thirds vote, there should be no question of its validity. In addition, RONR itself, on page 291 provides that "A resignation is submitted in writing, addressed to the secretary or appointing power." That is virtually identical to the provision in Paula's bylaws. But, RONR goes on to provide a resignation may also be submitted verbally in a meeting. One more factor is that the O.P. stated that resignations have been submitted verbally and accepted on prior occasions. If so, a precedent has certainly been established. For all sorts of reasons, I just do not accept that the ONLY way this board member can resign is by submitting it in writing to the organization's secretary. Now, having said all that, I still maintain that IN THIS CASE I don't know that we can say whether the resignation was effective or accepted and whether this board member is still a board member. I believe that is a judgment call that the society itself must make. I stand by these two paragraphs from my post above (which is post # 10 and would have been marked as such before the forum gurus decided to "improve" the forum): "It is ultimately up to your organization to determine for itself whether this officer's verbal resignation has taken effect. That can be done by a ruling of the chair at the next meeting and then an appeal from the ruling of the chair if two people (a mover and a second) desire to do so. Bottom line: I think the assembly (the board) could have accepted the officer's resignation on the spot, but it did not do so and the matter was never even placed before it for action. Therefore, it is my own personal opinion, from what I have read, that the officer may withdraw the resignation... but the decision isn't mine to make."
  5. I agree with smb. I certainly see no ethical duty to speak up and I'm not convinced there is a moral one either. Although I certainly understand that someone might feel compelled to speak up because he believes it is the right thing to do, I do not believe there is any duty to do so. I also share smb's concern about not wanting to set a bad precedent. I see that as a more compelling reason to speak up than either an ethical requirement or a sense of duty to "do the right thing".
  6. Guest voting qualifications, I'm assuming you are talking about the same organization as the original poster. If not, please post your question by starting a new thread. The people who are eligible to vote would have to be determined by your own bylaws. Per RONR only members have the right to vote, but it appears you have customized rules.
  7. Oops. Thanks for the catch. I was using voice to text on my cellphone. It still has bugs and gremlins. And even emotions, obviously!
  8. Guest TJG, I would also note that it would be highly unusual to be able to vote on a proposed bylaw change at the same meeting at which it is proposed. RONR requires previous notice of proposed changes and most bylaws do as well.
  9. No. Unless there is a state law to the contrary, once the absence of a quorum is noted, no further business can take place other than the four things permissible in the absence of a quorum. Those four things are to adjourn, take a recess, take action to obtain a quorum, and set an adjourned meeting.
  10. O.P., would you tell us what you mean when you say discussion was interrupted? Exactly what discussion was interrupted? Was the motion at issue being debated?
  11. I agree with Mr Katz, but I think in order to answer the original poster's question we need to know what he meant when he said the discussion was interrupted. If the motion was being discussed (debated), then it was properly before the assembly and it would come up at the next meeting as unfinished business. The failure of the chair to State the motion is waived if debate ensues notwithstanding his failure to state the motion. If the discussion which was interrupted was about something else, or if the original poster meant simply that before there was any debate another motion was made, then I believe the failure of the chair to state the emotion motion effectively killed it.
  12. Paula, an item, such as a motion (or in this case, the board member's verbal resignation... a request to be excused from a duty) is placed before the assembly by the chair STATING that it is before the assembly just as the chair does when stating any other motion. A motion, even one that has been seconded, is not "before the assembly" until the chair repeats the motion to the assembly after it has been seconded (or the assembly proceeds to debate it or vote on it even without the chair having stated it). In this case, the proper procedure would have been for the chair to have to placed the matter of the resignation before the assembly. That could be done with a statement as simple as, "Is there any objection to accepting the member's resignation?" "Hearing none, the resignation is accepted". Or, the chair could have asked, "Is there a motion to accept the member's resignation?" As Mr. Huyhn pointed out, it is not clear to me whether the resignation has been acted upon by placing it before the assembly. Once it is before the assembly, it cannot be unilaterally withdrawn. It is not clear to me that anything was done or said to place the resignation before the assembly or that the assembly did anything to indicate that it had "accepted" the resignation. It does appear from your bylaws that a resignation must be accepted and is not effective "when received" as some bylaws provide. If the assembly had proceeded to fill four vacancies, rather than three, that would have created a pretty strong indication that the assembly did in fact believe that the member had resigned and that the position was vacant. The election of someone to fill the position is tantamount to accepting the resignation. It is ultimately up to your organization to determine for itself whether this officer's verbal resignation has taken effect. That can be done by a ruling of the chair at the next meeting and then an appeal from the ruling of the chair if two people (a mover and a second) desire to do so. Bottom line: I think the assembly (the board) could have accepted the officer's resignation on the spot, but it did not do so and the matter was never even placed before it for action. Therefore, it is my own personal opinion, from what I have read, that the officer may withdraw the resignation... but the decision isn't mine to make. Edited to add: You might read "How a Motion is Brought Before the Assembly" on pages 32-42 of RONR for more information on placing a matter before the assembly. Or, read "How a Motion Gets Before a Group" on pages 20-23 of RONR in Brief.
  13. I think it is necessary for your organization to interpret its own bylaws to determine whether the intent of the voting requirement is a regular "majority vote", which is a majority of those members present and voting, or "the vote of a majority of the members present". Those two requirements are not at all the same. Then, as others have mentioned, if your board has both voting and non voting members, you have to factor that in and determine for yourselves exactly what it means. Your bylaws use non-standard language in establishing the vote requirement, so your organization must interpret its own rule. You might read pages 400-406 of RONR for the preferred language of different vote requirements and the meanings of different phraseology. Any time you deviate from the norm, even slightly, you create problems such as the one you have.
  14. I'm not sure that I agree fully with Mr. Goldsworthy's answer. I believe we must first know, or ascertain, whether the BOARD has the authority to create such a "one man committee". I suspect the Sergeant at Arms is expected to serve in such capacity at meetings of the general membership and not just at board meetings. I'm not so sure this board has the authority to create such a position regardless of what it is called. I'm interested in hearing what others think. Edited to add: My original post of about five minutes ago has been deleted, edited and hereby re-posted as edited.
  15. This sounds like a straw poll to me as well. However, I would point out that the prohibition in RONR against straw polls is a rule of order which can be suspended by a two-thirds vote or a vote of a majority of the entire membership. I can envision situations where such a vote or poll could be beneficial in determining whether to proceed with certain negotiations, for example. I can also see how the whole issue of a straw poll can be avoided by someone simply making a motion that, for example, the president be authorized to continue with negotiations with organization B regarding subject XYZ and to report back to the assembly.
  16. Paula, what, exactly, do your bylaws say about resignations? Please quote the full provision.
  17. Georgia Bulldawg, it's ultimately up to your organization to interpret its own bylaws and to determine what rights "advisory non-voting members" of committees have. RONR does not provide for members such as those and considers "members" to be only members who have all rights of membership, which would include the right to vote. Any other classes of members and their rights would have to be set out in your bylaws or determined by your organization by interpreting its bylaws. The following definition of a "member" or an organization from page three of RONR might be of help: "A member of an assembly, in the parliamentary sense, as mentioned above, is a person entitled to full participation in its proceedings, that is, as explained in 3 and 4, the right to attend meetings, to make motions, to speak in debate, and to vote. No member can be individually deprived of these basic rights of membership—or of any basic rights concomitant to them, such as the right to make nominations or to give previous notice of a motion—except through disciplinary proceedings. Some organized societies define additional classes of "membership" that do not entail all of these rights. Whenever the term member is used in this book, it refers to full participating membership in the assembly unless otherwise specified. Such members are also described as "voting members" when it is necessary to make a distinction. " I wish we could help you more, but RONR simply does not get into the rights of people who are less than full members with all rights of membership. Good luck. Sincerely, An Ole Miss Rebel in New Orleans
  18. Guest Shareda, I agree with the response above by Mr. Mervosh. You might keep in mind, though, that if it is possible to call the motion from the table, it comes back in the form it was in at the time it was laid on the table, complete with all pending amendments. You can't call up just the original motion and only one of the four amendments. It's all or nothing.
  19. New member Camp may not check back again, but if he/she does, I think it is up to the organization itself to interpret its own bylaws and rules to determine whether the president may get paid both as president and as a committee chair. Based on what has been posted, it seems the president can appoint himself chairman of every committee, thereby increasing his compensation substantially. The total cost to the society is the same, but i question whether the bylaws intend that the president be paid multiple salaries for serving in multiple capacities. It may be that an amendment of the bylaws is in order if this is a problem. Based on what has been posted, it seems to me that the president can indeed collect multiple salaries. The fact that the president is a member of all committees ex officio is not relevant. Someone who is a member ex offico is just as much a member as are the other members.
  20. The chairman can speak to the board member privately. He also can and probably should politely call the member to order next time it happens. If this sort of thing happens regularly, and with other members committing breaches as well, I think it would be appropriate for the chairman, at the beginning of a meeting, to perhaps remind the board members in general of the rules of proper conduct and decorum without calling out any particular member.
  21. I'm a couple of weeks late to this discussion, but I would also interpret the rule as being one which cannot be suspended. It strikes me as being essentially a requirement for holding office, i.e., a person must have been nominated in order to serve. Another factor I'm considering, which I don't believe anyone else mentioned, is that nominations are debatable. If the person is nominated, members might point out in debate why he is not the best candidate and possibly dissuade some members who had initially been in on the secret plan to elect him by means of write in votes. On the other hand, being officially nominated might cause him to get even more votes. In the end, I think the rule cannot be suspended. I also agree with the following post by J.J.that he made early on in this discussion:
  22. Guest Cathy, as Chris Harrison and Rev Ed pointed out, the rule in RONR is that a member parliamentarian should not make motions. speak in debate or vote except when the vote is by secret ballot. See page 467 of RONR. However, there are ways "around" that prohibition if the society wants to allow its "member parliamentarian" to participate more fully. See, for example, the following language on page 254: "Before rendering his decision, the chair can consult the parliamentarian, if there is one. The chair can also request the advice of experienced members, but no one has the right to express such opinions in the meeting unless requested to do so by the chair." Perhaps, rather than having an official member parliamentarian, the society can not decide not to have one and the chair can instead, when he feels the need, call on an "experienced member" knowledgeable in parliamentary procedure for advice. Another method, which I have seen used and discussed in this forum, is to adopt a special rule of order allowing a member parliamentarian to participate in the proceedings fully or to whatever extent the society establishes. Edited to add: The assembly can also adopt a motion to suspend the rules at a particular meeting to permit the member parliamentarian to participate more fully or even completely in the meeting. That would have to be done on a case by case or meeting by meeting basis.
  23. I agree with the previous responses and would add that the board itself can decide to make its minutes available to non-board members, either on an individual case by case basis or by the adoption of a motion on the subject. Also, unless the meetings were held in executive session, individual board members are free to let others see or have copies of the minutes unless your board or organization has a rule to the contrary. Note: Even if there is no rule prohibiting members from sharing the minutes, doing so might be frowned upon and bring disfavor on a member who does so. As I believe someone else pointed out, if this organization is incorporated or is some kind of homeowner association, state law might contain provisions regarding access to board minutes and organization records.
  24. Well, heck. I haven't been here much lately because of other pressing business, but as I scanned the list of posts, the word "scrutineer" in the title of this thread caught my attention. I don't recall having heard the term and thought I might learn something new and interesting. Perhaps it's uniquely Canadian. But, alas, not one response even mentioned the word! (Edited to add: Oops. Rev Ed mentioned the word. Twice.). OK, Google, I hope you're doing fine today. I'm about to pay you a visit. I figure it's a fancy or old fashioned term for "watcher", but one just has to be sure he's right about these terms!
  25. Guest David, the preferred language when making a motion, as stated on page 33 of RONR is, "I move that. . . ."