jpgarc01

Standing rules to specify meeting types?

15 posts in this topic

All - thanks in advance for your guidance.  It has been 15+ years since I have held parlimentarian duties, and I am very rusty with regard to RROR.

The by-laws of my organization dictate that our body must hold 2 meetings per calendar month:  "...the First monthly business meeting shall be held on the first Tuesday of the month.  The second monthly meeting shall be held on the third Tuesday of the month..."

Traditionally, the organization has held a business meeting on the second monthly meeting.  Our new leadership, however, wants to use the 2nd monthly meeting as a meeting time for the executive committee.  Given that the by-laws did not specifically note that the second meeting of the month necessarily be a business meeting, can we pass a standing rule to specify that the second monthly meeting be a non-business meeting?

Any insight would be very helpful.  Thank you!

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I'm missing something here.  First, I wouldn't attach any significance to the "business," since "meeting" is well-defined in RONR (assuming RONR is your parliamentary authority) although the opposite argument can be made (and the final decision must be made by your organization).  But, in any case, how will that help?  Suppose you hold a (paradoxical) non-business meeting - how will that cause the EC to hold a meeting?

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FWIW, and not to disagree with either of my colleagues, it is quite common for organizations to alternate business meetings at which they conduct the organization's business with non business meetings which are more social in nature or which feature a speaker or educational program. I suspect that is what is meant by this particular bylaws provision.

I have a question for new member jpgarc: is it the intention to have executive committee meetings in place of a membership meeting? Is it to somehow have an executive committee meeting in conjunction with the membership meeting, such as immediately preceding or following the membership meeting?

As I read the bylaws, it requires two meetings per month of the association which I presume to be the membership. A meeting of the executive board cannot take the place of such a membership meeting.

A bit more information as to what the custom has been and what is intended by the proposed change might be helpful to us.

Edited by Richard Brown
Corrected errors caused by voice to text inaccuracies

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11 minutes ago, Richard Brown said:

I suspect that is what is meant by this particular bylaws provision.

Are you sure you aren't disagreeing with me?

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The notion that there is some difference between the business which may be conducted during the meeting to be held on the first Tuesday of the month and the one to be held on the third Tuesday of the month is simply absurd.

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2 hours ago, Richard Brown said:

... it is quite common for organizations to alternate business meetings at which they conduct the organization's business with non business meetings which are more social in nature or which feature a speaker or educational program. I suspect that is what is meant by this particular bylaws provision....

I have a question for new member jpgarc: is it the intention to have executive committee meetings in place of a membership meeting? Is it to somehow have an executive committee meeting in conjunction with the membership meeting, such as immediately preceding or following the membership meeting?

You are correct, Richard - historically, our organization has used the "business" meeting to perform our organization's business.  The non-business meetings were originally intended, in my opinion, to be more social in nature.  

In the recent past (several years), organizational leadership has opted to "call to order" on the second monthly meeting.

This year's administration does not want to "call to order" on the second meeting.  They want to revert to the more social intent of the second meeting - open to the whole membership.  The caveat is, that the administration want to be able to have off-the-cuff discussions, brainstorming sessions, etc, that are related to organization business. 

As I write this, are we ok if we just don't call the meeting to order?  Are we still aligned with our by-laws?

Does this make sense?

Again, thank you all for the insight!

 

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1 minute ago, jpgarc01 said:

As I write this, are we ok if we just don't call the meeting to order?  Are we still aligned with our by-laws?

 

No, you'd be in violation of your bylaw requirement to hold a meeting.  See, for instance, the discussion about a lack of quorum when the bylaws mandate a meeting (noting calling meeting to order satisfies bylaw requirement).  

The basic issue here is that "social events" simply aren't meetings, and also don't belong in the bylaws.  If your organization wants to hold one meeting and one get-together per month, it should do so by amending the bylaws.  It cannot achieve this effect through a standing rule.  I still have no idea what's going on with the executive committee, though.

Note:  It should not amend the bylaws to change the second meeting to a social event.  It should just strike the second meeting.  It can adopt a standing rule about holding a social event, or just, well, have one - depending on the need for expenditures for the event, etc.

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I disagree with one or two points that my friend Joshua Katz made in the post directly above. However, I am on my cell phone and in the middle of something and can't elaborate right now. For now I will just say that nothing prevents the membership from voluntarily conducting substantive of business only at the first meeting of the month. At the second meeting, the president can call the meeting to order and then state simply "if there is no objection we will dispense with any further business at this meeting and proceed directly to the program". Then adjourn the meeting after the program. Just because it is officially a meeting does not mean you have to take up any business at that meeting. Somebody could actually move to adjourn as soon as the president calls the meeting to order.

I also feel compelled to add that if it is the intent of this society that it have two meetings a month, with one being a business meeting and the other one being primarily a social gathering, such a provision absolutely can be and probably should be in the bylaws.

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20 minutes ago, Richard Brown said:

At the second meeting, the president can call the meeting to order and then state simply "if there is no objection we will dispense with any further business at this meeting and proceed directly to the program". Then adjourn the meeting after the program. Just because it is officially a meeting does not mean you have to take up any business at that meeting. Somebody could actually move to adjourn as soon as the president calls the meeting to order.

I certainly agree with that.  I remain at a loss (and will until you can elaborate, I'm sure) why a provision for a monthly social gathering probably should be in the bylaws.  Can, sure - should is where I'm lost.  Now, if the idea is to maintain the possibility of conducting business, I can see that.  I can also see a lot of problems with it.  "Oh, there's no need to go, it's a social thing and I'd rather catch up on work - wait, you did what?"

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We are provided with only portions of two sentences from this organization's bylaws, reading as follows:

 "...the First monthly business meeting shall be held on the first Tuesday of the month.  The second monthly meeting shall be held on the third Tuesday of the month..."

Now it seems absurd to me to say that these bylaws, although referring to a First monthly business meeting, do not intend to indicate that there is to be a second one, and in fact, they say there is to be a second one. Perhaps there is something else somewhere in the bylaws which contradicts the plain meaning of what has been quoted, but we haven't been informed of it, and it doesn't surprise me in the least that, as the OP initially told us, the second monthly meeting has traditionally been a business meeting.

Based solely upon what has been posted, I think the obvious answer to the question initially asked, which was "can we pass a standing rule to specify that the second monthly meeting be a non-business meeting?" is a resounding "no, you can't." 

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All - just wanted to thank you all for your opinions!

Also, I wanted to let you know what happened.  I contacted the experts on the constitution from our national organization to get some clarity.  Long story short, there is a distinction made in our national organization's constitution that prescribes a certain structure and rules of order for "regular business meetings."

Our by-laws also define that the first monthly business meeting shall be a regular business meeting.

Thanks again all and apologies for my novice level of question.

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On 7/14/2017 at 7:48 AM, Daniel H. Honemann said:

We are provided with only portions of two sentences from this organization's bylaws, reading as follows:

 "...the First monthly business meeting shall be held on the first Tuesday of the month.  The second monthly meeting shall be held on the third Tuesday of the month..."

Now it seems absurd to me to say that these bylaws, although referring to a First monthly business meeting, do not intend to indicate that there is to be a second one, and in fact, they say there is to be a second one.

Of course. And in some organizations, there is a monthly business meeting every week. :)

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On 7/13/2017 at 3:41 PM, Joshua Katz said:

The basic issue here is that "social events" simply aren't meetings, and also don't belong in the bylaws.

You seem to be ignoring what RONR says about this on page 89, lines 26-30:

"Some societies have frequent meetings for social or cultural purposes at which business may be transacted, and also hold a session every month or quarter especially for business. In such societies, the term regular meeting applies particularly to the regular business session."

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24 minutes ago, Shmuel Gerber said:

"Some societies have frequent meetings for social or cultural purposes at which business may be transacted, and also hold a session every month or quarter especially for business. In such societies, the term regular meeting applies particularly to the regular business session."

I don't think so.  Either the second meeting is solely social, or also permits the conduct of business.  If the latter, of course it goes in the bylaws.  I took the point to be the former, though.

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