Jump to content
The Official RONR Q & A Forums
amnesia

The Reciprocal Reading of Bylaw

Recommended Posts

As a follow up to my previous post regarding a board falsely applying a 2/3rds requirement for motion to rescind even with previous notice, I met with the Executive Board to discuss. The crux of their argument relates to the following bylaws governing the handling of endorsements and the endorsement committee in reverse:

Section 4 - In order for candidates to receive a recommendation for endorsement, a majority vote of the Endorsement Committee is required.  Dual endorsements may be recommended.

Section 5 - The Endorsement Committee shall present its recommendation for endorsement of candidates and/or Ballot Issues or Measures, to the membership of the organization at a regular meeting at which "endorsement of candidates and/or Ballot Issues or Measures" has been published as an agenda item.  Said meeting may occur prior to the primary election and all candidates seeking endorsement are asked to attend.  Supporters of Ballot Issues or Measures seeking endorsement must present their proposal in writing to each member attending said meeting.  Endorsement of candidates and/or Ballot Issues or Measures recommended by the Endorsement Committee, may be made by a majority vote of voting members present at said meeting.  Only candidates and/or Ballot Issues or Measures recommended by the endorsement committee may be endorsed.

Section 6 – If a candidate is interviewed by the Endorsement Committee and the committee does not recommend endorsement of the candidate, said candidate may be endorsed if the candidate is nominated and seconded from the floor by voting members at a meeting where endorsements are published as an agenda item,4 and then receives a two-thirds vote of the voting members at the next regular membership meeting.

They are arguing, that "since Section 6 requires 2/3 majority to endorse a candidate over the boards failure to recommend, a motion to rescind an endorsement must receive the recommendation of the board and failing that would require 2/3 to override"

I know the argument being made by the board is invalid, however, I'm trying to build an explanation of "where it says that they can't read the reciprocal" as asked by the vice chair. So far as I can see, they are essentially adding a bylaw by "reading the reciprocal".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Useless post is useless Hieu. And didn't you personally do just that here: http://robertsrules.forumflash.com/index.php?/topic/28189-unexpected-vacancy-on-the-board-to-be-filled/#comment-162342. But let's move on:

I'm not asking you or anyone to interpret bylaws. I'm asking if the reverse of any bylaw can be legally enforced when that reverse overrides a separate parliamentary procedure and is not stated explicitly in the bylaws. The key question asked by the board to me was "where does it say that we can't read a rule backwards". It's a ridiculous question in my mind, but it needs answering in a more convincing manner than, "because you can't"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In order to avoid interpreting your bylaws, I will try to speak in generalities.  

First - if this bylaw were absent, what would be the rule for endorsements?  An endorsement would just be an original main motion, which would require a majority vote.  Under this bylaw, it's as hard or harder - even with the support of the committee, an endorsement requires a "majority vote of members present."  I expect some will read that as just a majority vote, while others will see it as a higher standard, and I'm not willing to take a swing on that.  Without committee support, it requires a 2/3 vote.  So the effect of this bylaw is what - to make it harder to get an endorsement.  That logic doesn't naturally extend to making it harder to take away an endorsement, does it?

Second - who gives the endorsement?  Clearly, the assembly.  All the committee can do is change - by making it higher than usual - the vote threshold to do so.  So it's an action of the assembly, and once the vote is cast, the committee is done with it and out of the picture.  The principle is that an appointment can be taken back by whoever can make it, which in this case is the assembly.  How does it do so?  Well, this bylaw doesn't say anything, so I turn to RONR (unless other bylaws say things) and see how to rescind an action.  It doesn't mention anything about some committee being able to change the vote threshold.

(At least one thing is unclear in your bylaw, at least to me - can a person be endorsed if not recommended by the committee?  Along those same lines, what does "asked" mean?)

As to "where does it say we can't?"  Lots of things aren't in RONR, simply because you can't possibly write down all the things people will do wrong.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the end, it will be up to your association (in a meeting) to decide the meaning of the bylaws in this regard. Next time it comes up (e.g. if the chair rules the vote insufficient and you disagree) appeal (RONR p 255)  from the ruling the chair. In debate on this appeal your association can deliberate and decide the meaning. See also page 588 and following in RONR11 for some principles of interpretation to help you.  (The most important of which is: "Each society decides for itself the meaning of its bylaws.")

It seems that when this bylaw was written it was not anticipated that anyone would want to undo an endorsement.   In my opinion there is perhaps some ambiguity. The bylaw should be amended as soon as practical to clear this up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, amnesia said:

They are arguing, that "since Section 6 requires 2/3 majority to endorse a candidate over the boards failure to recommend, a motion to rescind an endorsement must receive the recommendation of the board and failing that would require 2/3 to override"

That statement is inconsistent.

Rule 6 never mentions any "board".

Only (a.) an Endorsement Committee; (b.) general membership.

Quote

Section 6 – If a candidate is interviewed by the Endorsement Committee and the committee does not recommend endorsement of the candidate, said candidate may be endorsed if the candidate is nominated and seconded from the floor by voting members at a meeting where endorsements are published as an agenda item,4 and then receives a two-thirds vote of the voting members at the next regular membership meeting.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, Hieu H. Huynh said:

Interpretation of bylaws is beyond the scope of this forum.

And I guess the reciprocal of that would be that visitors to the website get to make up their own rules about how the forum should be used.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.

×