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  1. Oops...hit enter too quickly. I am aware we parliamentarians have expressed differing opinions on this question so what I'm looking at the moment is whether anyone has ever found legal authority for the proposition that adopting RONR is sufficient. [recognizing of course that other legal jurisdictions may disagree.'
  2. I'm sure this has been the subject of a prior thread, but I am unable to find it so apologies for bringing it up again. I'm willing to accept either fresh advice or a link to a prior thread State corporation codes frequently provide default language for certain elements of procedure "unless otherwise provided by the bylaws." So there has always been the lingering question whether a provision in the bylaws stating that RONR is the parliamentary authority satisfies that requirement or whether any override of the statute must be by an express bylaw. Thx
  3. It's an unusual set-up. The standing rules for this association's conventions are in the association's policy manual. Per the bylaws, the sole authority for approving, amending, rescinding the policy manual resides in the Board of Directors. The convention delegates have never voted to adopt or amend the convention standing rules -- they are a fait accompli. Delegates have occasionally suspended applicable procedural rules provided by RONR but they have never had occasion to suspend one of their own own standing rules. So the question essentially is whether, under such a scheme, the convention delegates have the authority to suspend a standing rule adopted by the board without prior board authorization to do so or whether the rules from the board should be considered directive. While the situation is somewhat akin to the Bylaws 'directing' that RONR be the parliamentary authority, RONR expressly provides for suspending its own rules. The standing rules adopted by the board do not provide such express authority. So the question, essentially, is whether the delegates need to be given express authority or whether the authority of delegates to suspend a standing rule is implicit. My own opinion is that since RONR allows a body to suspend a procedural rule contained in the bylaws [certainly a 'directive' document], there is no reason it shouldn't be able to do so here as well. Obviously, this cannot be answered by reference to RONR -- so perhaps this is not an appropriate topic for this forum -- just curious to see if others have encountered such a situation before and how it was handled.
  4. The Standing Rules for annual conventions were prepared and adopted by the organization's Board of Directors. Some members see a need to suspend one of the rules for this year's convention. There are three options: 1) at the next Board meeting a motion can be adopted to suspend the rule for the upcoming convention; 2) at the next Board meeting there can be a motion authorizing the convention delegates to suspend the rule if they wish to do so; 3) the convention delegates can suspend the rule themselves without board action. Ordinarily, the latter can be done with a majority vote of the delegates. Questions: (a) If the Board wanted to amend or rescind the standing rule without prior notice, it would require a 2/3 vote or majority of the board. Would that also be required to suspend the rule without prior notice, or would a suspension require only a majority vote? RONR authorizes convention delegates to suspend a standing rule by a majority vote; can the Board adopt a motion requiring a 2/3 vote of the delegates instead? Wouldn't that, itself, be a standing rule that the delegates could suspend by a majority vote? [c] Since RONR authorizes convention delegates to suspend a standing rule by a majority vote, can the convention delegates do so even if the previously mentioned motions were made at the Board meeting but failed to receive a majority vote?
  5. I am essentially with Kim on this one. You are neither the parliamentarian nor the chair -- more importantly, unless one is in such a position, you do not surrender your own rights just because you know something about PL. One of those rights is the right to rise to a point of order or NOT. It may be a different situation if there is a ruling by the Chair and now you must decide whether to appeal the ruling or not. Here there is more reason to speak up -- but not because there is an ethical duty; rather it is because the chair's ruling may become a precedent unless set aside and that is the time to set the record, and the rules, straight. But...let us not confuse "doing the right thing", which is admirable, with having an "ethical duty."
  6. Thanks for the comments -- Daniel is such a ubiquitous presence on this board that his conclusion there is apparently no analysis or discussion is good enough for me, and that's mostly what I was looking for. As for Kim's comment, while we should always be aware of state laws on an issue, I chose not use the legal concept of 'self-dealing' as the standard because most state laws define that term very narrowly -- much more narrowly than RONR. I.e., RONR refers to pecuniary interests generally -- the self-dealing principles of California law (for example) apply to only a very small subset of what might be considered pecuniary interests. That's the reason I brought this up -- I see directors of nonprofits frequently abstaining on monetary issues that affect them personally because they think they 'should' do so -- even though corporate law has no concerns. The problem is that corporate law often requires a majority of the board for approval, not those present and voting, so their abstention is equivalent to a 'no' vote.
  7. The following statement on p. 407 has been the subject of many posts. Sorry to bring it up again, but I don't think this particular question has been addressed. "No member should vote on a question in which he has a direct personal or pecuniary interest not common to other members of the organization. For example, if a motion proposes that the organization enter into a contract with a commercial firm of which a member of the organization is an officer ..." My question is very narrow. What is the meaning of "not common to other members of the organization"? I often see board members unnecessarily abstaining* on votes because they think they have a conflict when, in fact, there is no conflict. The issue may be who to send as a delegate to a conference, fixing the $ amount of stipends or other compensation, etc. The example given on p. 407 suggests that the rule applies only when the pending question relates to a personal or pecuniary interest that is "outside" the organization itself. Is that a correct reading? Suppose we have an organization of web-designers; a member thinks the organization's own website needs to be redesigned but recognizing how much work that entails thinks that they should pay a token amount of $500 to whichever member the Board tasks to do it -- he wants to establish the principle that just because they all have skills, no one should be expected to do the work for free. At this point, we don't know which member will be asked or volunteer to do it -- it could be any of them. So it seems clear to me that all members can vote on this issue with a clear conscience -- they have no conflict and no one need consider abstaining*. Now we change the scenario a bit -- Helen has previously offered to redesign the website; another member now offers the same motion to compensate her for her time. Should she consider abstaining? * We know that even when there is a conflict, one still has the right to vote and no one can be compelled to abstain. The only issue I am concerned with is whether there is even a need to consider doing so. I hope I have not made the issue too simplistic -- my purpose in bringing this up is not to have others simply conclude whether or not Helen should abstain. My purpose is to see how others interpret the meaning 'not common to other members" -- even with other examples -- or to discover if there is already a broader analysis or discussion of the issue that I have somehow overlooked. Thx
  8. I think it's a bit more on point further down the page...RONR (11th ed.), p. 34, ll. 19-30.
  9. Just by way of example, this is how California's "Brown Act" covers the situation. Most state 'open meetings' laws have similar provisions.... "Furthermore, a member of a legislative body, or the body itself, subject to rules or procedures of the legislative body, may provide a reference to staff or other resources for factual information, request staff to report back to the body at a subsequent meeting concerning any matter, or take action to direct staff to place a matter of business on a future agenda." GOVT Code 54954.2 (a)(2)
  10. Expanding upon Schmuel's post #3, the reason why ratify it is an incidental motion is practical. The only significant difference between an original main motion and an incidental main motion is that the latter is not subject to 'objection to the consideration of a question' [RONR 11th ed., pp. 102 ll. 4-8, 268 ll. 3-4]. Since the motion to ratify always relates to an action that the society has already taken [sometimes by a prior vote of the assembly itself, but not necessarily), you don't want to allow an objection to prevent the society from either ratifying or expressly rejecting that action.
  11. Methinks this thread has focused too much on what properly goes in the minutes and not enough on what the member is requesting. Without questioning motives, we need to acknowledge that sometimes a request to put something in the minutes that RONR would not ordinarily call is perfectly appropriate. It may be to build a complete historical record in case of potential lawsuit, to avoid ambiguity of purpose, or whatever. The proper method for gaining recognition to do so is to rise to a question of privilege (p. 227-228). Although this motion is frequently misused, this would seem to be a perfect application, especially given RONR's suggestion on p. 227 that the motion can be used to ensure the accuracy of the minutes.
  12. Oops. Sorry for the larger type in my earlier response. I did not mean to shout.
  13. I just want to note for the record, that the almost correct answer is not in post #2; it is in post #19. (Both by Mssr. Hohnemann, so I give him full credit.) "The obligation not to divulge anything that occurred in executive session is something having continuing force and effect which was made or created as the result of the adoption of the motion to go into executive session, thus falling clearly within the language found on page 305, lines 28-31." But I would take the analysis a bit further. The authority of the assembly to lift the veil of secrecy is solely as to the content of the minutes of the executive session. Which, as we are all aware, should report what was done, not what was said. The rule protecting the secrecy of what any individual member may have said in debate, with the understanding that his or her comments would not be disclosed, is essentially a rule "protecting a minority of a particular size" that protects the rights of each individual member and would therefore require unanimous consent to lift. [p. 261 l. 15-17] This citation is for a motion to suspend the rules since the motion to amend something previously adopted would technically be out of order -- since it is impossible to undo the guarantee of confidentiality given to those who remained in the room and chose to speak because of that guarantee. [p. 308 l.. 20-24]. The key to the analysis is to parse RONR p. 96 l. 6-14 which indicates that the authority of the assembly to lift the veil of secrecy applies only to the confidentiality of the executive session minutes, not the secrecy of what was said during the meeting. "A member of a society can be punished under disciplinary procedure if he violates the secrecy of an executive session. [Period!] .... The minutes...must be read and acted upon only in executive session, unless that which would be reported in the minutes ....was not secret, or secrecy [of the actions taken during executive session] has been lifted by the assembly." (My emphasis and [comments])
  14. I would like to take us back to the pure essence of the original question -- is there anything in RONR that prohibits you from canceling a meeting? No. And now for my 2c: If there were such a rule, Mr. Spock would consider it illogical. Of course meetings can be canceled. That is why every calendar program and application from Profs to Outlook to Mac Calendar ad infinitum has a function that allows you to cancel a meeting. The only question is who has the authority to do so if the bylaws, standing rules, or parliamentary authority don't address the issue and under what circumstances. (Ok, that's really two questions.) If an assembly previously scheduled a special meeting, it can rescind that action. If the president cancels tomorrow's regular meeting because the meeting room burned down last night, and there is a question about whether he exceeded his/her authority, the assembly can ratify that action later. If a standing rule requires any proposed business to be submitted x days prior to the meeting so it can be noticed in the call to meeting, the President routinely cancels the meeting if nothing has been submitted, and no one has ever objected, then you may have established a custom and practice. Note that my comments do not address what is necessary, or what might happen, if the meeting is canceled over the objections of other members who think it should still proceed. That is a different question. As to the moon: semper necessitas probandi incumbit ei qui agit (the necessity of proof always lies with the person who lays charges.) “usually one who makes an assertion must assume the responsibility of defending it. If this responsibility or burden of proof is shifted to a critic, the fallacy of appealing to ignorance is committed.” (Argumentum ad Ignorantiam) Michalos, Alex (1969). Principles of Logic. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall. p. 370.
  15. Methinks people are focusing too much on the Chair's participation rather than the validity/invalidity of the meeting itself. Any time the members of an association gather to conduct business it is a 'meeting'. The only question is whether it is a valid meeting or not -- and the simple fact of calling a meeting to order has no effect on that question. Another hypothetical; the President (Chair) refuses to call a special meeting upon request of three members of the board, as the bylaws require, so the Secretary convenes the meeting even though the bylaws do not give the Secretary that authority. Everyone but the President shows up and the President is recalled. Valid meeting? You can come down on either side of that question -- the point is simply that who it was that called the meeting to order is irrelevant. For the question at hand, certainly, the Chair does not NEED to be there -- and some might register their protest by failing to show up. My recommendation is no more than that if the Chair wants to ensure that a complete record is made of what is occurring, he either needs to be there or he needs to have a reliable lieutenant. And if he intends to be there, then he might as well be in charge.