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Joshua Katz

Motions not recorded

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I have found that replies to a thread on this topic have confused me.  In general, when asked this question, I have replied that a motion takes effect when adopted, and therefore, failure to include it in adopted minutes has no impact.  (Another common question, albeit easier, is whether a motion does not go into effect until the minutes are adopted.)  Another thread, though, seems to suggest that the adoption of minutes not mentioning the motion (where the motion did not get put into the draft and then struck, but rather was never there) would make the motion ineffectual.  I find this troubling, as, if I understand it correctly, this would hamper the stability of an organization - different attendees, by a majority vote, could do away with motions they do not like.

It also seems to have odd time-travel properties.  If a motion authorized the President to spend money, and the money was spent, and the minutes make no mention of it, did the President act appropriately?

Clearly the inverse would not be true - a motion cannot be inserted falsely into the minutes, and thereby given effect.  If it could, motions requiring higher thresholds could be, in effect, adopted by a majority.

I am starting this thread not to argue, but to seek clarification on these matters.

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2 hours ago, Joshua Katz said:

I have found that replies to a thread on this topic have confused me.  In general, when asked this question, I have replied that a motion takes effect when adopted, and therefore, failure to include it in adopted minutes has no impact.  (Another common question, albeit easier, is whether a motion does not go into effect until the minutes are adopted.)  Another thread, though, seems to suggest that the adoption of minutes not mentioning the motion (where the motion did not get put into the draft and then struck, but rather was never there) would make the motion ineffectual.  I find this troubling, as, if I understand it correctly, this would hamper the stability of an organization - different attendees, by a majority vote, could do away with motions they do not like.

It also seems to have odd time-travel properties.  If a motion authorized the President to spend money, and the money was spent, and the minutes make no mention of it, did the President act appropriately?

Clearly the inverse would not be true - a motion cannot be inserted falsely into the minutes, and thereby given effect.  If it could, motions requiring higher thresholds could be, in effect, adopted by a majority.

I am starting this thread not to argue, but to seek clarification on these matters.

Well, we must first understand two things:

  • When the minutes are up for approval, the sole question before the assembly is whether the minutes are an accurate record of what happened, not whether the members approve of the actions taken.
  • The rules generally assume that the assembly's members (or at least most of them) are acting in good faith.

With this in mind, my guess would be that the advice posted from various members of the forum on this topic presume that the minutes fail to include the motion in question either because of a simple oversight or because there is genuine disagreement over whether the motion was, in fact, made and adopted. If the former is the case, then the minutes can be promptly corrected. If the latter is the case, the assembly will have to come to an agreement about what actually happened, and then the minutes can be promptly corrected.

If the situation is instead that a substantial number of the assembly's members are willing to falsify the society's records, then that is certainly a much bigger problem.

As to your hypothetical, the members will need to determine at their next meeting whether the motion was, in fact, adopted. If so, they should amend the minutes to reflect that fact. If it was not, then the President may be in some trouble.

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I think it is a question of evidence.  The minutes provide evidence of what happened.  That is what must be relied on to show what happened, at least initially.

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On 4/26/2017 at 9:38 AM, Joshua Katz said:

If a motion authorized the President to spend money,

and the money was spent,

and the minutes make no mention of it,

Q. did the President act appropriately?

Answer: YES.

Since you confirm that the authorization is real, then the president's actions (in accordance with the adopted motion) is appropriate.

***

A nay-sayer, a skeptic, who was not at the meeting of interest, will argue that the action was illegitimate, since the minutes show no such motion.

That is a different question: Q. Are the minutes accurate?

As long as the majority of the members approve (and/or amend) the minutes eventually, then the president is not at risk.

If a majority of the members assert that the gap in the minutes is proof of the president's exceeding of authority, then the president has no recourse. -- The minutes (or the lack thereof) will be one piece of evidence that the president exceeded his authority.

THAT is why accurate minutes are important. -- People are relying on minutes as the sole proof of authorization.

***

But, again, per Robert's Rules of Order, one does not have to have minutes at all to act on a motion which was properly adopted.

You don't have to wait for minutes to be generated, never mind approved, to take action.

(Indeed, all elections are acted upon immediately. No one waits for minutes' approval to find out if their vote last month "took" or not.)

 

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On 4/26/2017 at 0:38 PM, Joshua Katz said:

I have found that replies to a thread on this topic have confused me.  In general, when asked this question, I have replied that a motion takes effect when adopted, and therefore, failure to include it in adopted minutes has no impact.  (Another common question, albeit easier, is whether a motion does not go into effect until the minutes are adopted.)  Another thread, though, seems to suggest that the adoption of minutes not mentioning the motion (where the motion did not get put into the draft and then struck, but rather was never there) would make the motion ineffectual.  I find this troubling, as, if I understand it correctly, this would hamper the stability of an organization - different attendees, by a majority vote, could do away with motions they do not like.

It also seems to have odd time-travel properties.  If a motion authorized the President to spend money, and the money was spent, and the minutes make no mention of it, did the President act appropriately?

Clearly the inverse would not be true - a motion cannot be inserted falsely into the minutes, and thereby given effect.  If it could, motions requiring higher thresholds could be, in effect, adopted by a majority.

I am starting this thread not to argue, but to seek clarification on these matters.

Your questions seem to be as much about epistemology as about procedure. Do facts exist apart from our knowledge of them? How do we know what we know? I don't know the answers to these questions (or maybe I do know them but don't know that I know), but I invite the wisdom of those who know they know, such as the esteemed Mr. Dan Honemann: lawyer, parliamentarian, gentleman, philosopher, fisherman.

Or we can just go with Josh Martin's answer, which seems pretty good to me, or even J.J.'s, which has the virtue of being shorter. :-)

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21 hours ago, Shmuel Gerber said:

Your questions seem to be as much about epistemology as about procedure. Do facts exist apart from our knowledge of them? How do we know what we know? I don't know the answers to these questions (or maybe I do know them but don't know that I know), but I invite the wisdom of those who know they know, such as the esteemed Mr. Dan Honemann: lawyer, parliamentarian, gentleman, philosopher, fisherman.

Or we can just go with Josh Martin's answer, which seems pretty good to me, or even J.J.'s, which has the virtue of being shorter. :-)

I know I know, and now I know you know I know I know. What I don't yet know is what you think about General Robert's response to the question asked in Q&A 248 on page 499 of PL.

This question in PL merely asks if it is in order to move, while minutes are pending for approval, "to strike out a portion that may be thought best not to have entered in the minutes". General Robert's response, however, seems to assume that the question refers to a motion to deliberately strike from the minutes a resolution or order which was, in fact, adopted. He appears to say that such a motion is in order, but that it will take a two-thirds vote for passage since the rules require that the adoption of the resolution or order be included in the minutes. In other words, I gather he is saying that the rule which requires that the adoption of the resolution or order be included in the minutes is a rule which can be suspended.

As I said in the earlier thread which may have prompted this one, I'm not at all sure I would agree that the "rule" that minutes must truly reflect actions taken with respect to main motions is a rule which can be suspended (although I certainly do agree that if a main motion is, in fact, adopted, failure to include that fact in the minutes, whether such failure is deliberate or accidental, does not mean that it didn't happen).

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16 hours ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

I know I know, and now I know you know I know I know. What I don't yet know is what you think about General Robert's response to the question asked in Q&A 248 on page 499 of PL.

This question in PL merely asks if it is in order to move, while minutes are pending for approval, "to strike out a portion that may be thought best not to have entered in the minutes". General Robert's response, however, seems to assume that the question refers to a motion to deliberately strike from the minutes a resolution or order which was, in fact, adopted. He appears to say that such a motion is in order, but that it will take a two-thirds vote for passage since the rules require that the adoption of the resolution or order be included in the minutes. In other words, I gather he is saying that the rule which requires that the adoption of the resolution or order be included in the minutes is a rule which can be suspended.

As I said in the earlier thread which may have prompted this one, I'm not at all sure I would agree that the "rule" that minutes must truly reflect actions taken with respect to main motions is a rule which can be suspended (although I certainly do agree that if a main motion is, in fact, adopted, failure to include that fact in the minutes, whether such failure is deliberate or accidental, does not mean that it didn't happen).

I share your doubts about this answer. I would not advise an assembly that Robert's Rules permits deliberate omission of a resolution or order by a two-thirds vote. I would tell them they have to do it by a majority vote, and let them take responsibility, not RONR. :-)

I also "certainly do agree that if a main motion is, in fact, adopted, failure to include that fact in the minutes, whether such failure is deliberate or accidental, does not mean that it didn't happen," but that gets back to the philosophical question. When there are corrections or motions related to the content of the minutes, it's often because there is genuine disagreement about what actually happened. However, a motion to suspend the rules and omit an adopted resolution is rather a clear indication that the assembly agrees that the motion was adopted, not that it wasn't.

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Perhaps it would help if Mr. Katz would explain in a bit more detail what it was he finds confusing in the replies posted in the earlier thread. He says that something there "seems to suggest that the adoption of minutes not mentioning the motion (where the motion did not get put into the draft and then struck, but rather was never there) would make the motion ineffectual."

I believe that earlier thread to be this one.

In that thread, Richard Brown posted the following:

"If the board has the authority to establish the new policy and if it did in fact establish a new policy, then the policy is in effect regardless of whether it was noted in the minutes. The minutes should be corrected to reflect the adoption of the new policy."

Guest James responded as follows"

"How does this make sense? If the minutes don't show a vote to create policy, how can the members even know it exists? Are people supposed to just trust that something happened if they don't bother to include it in the minutes?"

To which I replied as follows:

"I agree with James, at least to a certain extent.

"When a motion is adopted, then, as Dr. Stackpole says, its adoption is what matters and it goes into effect immediately. However, when the minutes of a meeting are approved, those minutes become the official record of what actually happened at that meeting, and if they do not reflect the adoption of a particular main motion, the assembly has agreed that no such motion was adopted at that meeting. If the assembly has made a mistake in this regard, it can, at any time, recognize its mistake and correct its previously approved but erroneous record of what happened at the meeting, but if it fails to do so the presumption must be that the minutes as approved are correct."

And I also said in that thread (as I have repeated here) that:

"... if a main motion is, in fact, adopted, failure to include that fact in the minutes, whether such failure is deliberate or accidental, does not mean that it didn't happen." 

I far as I can tell, nothing that I posted in that earlier thread suggests anything other than what Josh Martin has posted here, so what, exactly, is the philosophical question?  :)

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1 hour ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

However, when the minutes of a meeting are approved, those minutes become the official record of what actually happened at that meeting, and if they do not reflect the adoption of a particular main motion, the assembly has agreed that no such motion was adopted at that meeting.

So what am I to do if I know full well the motion was adopted?  What is the effect of the assembly agreeing that no such motion was adopted?

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29 minutes ago, Joshua Katz said:

So what am I to do if I know full well the motion was adopted?  What is the effect of the assembly agreeing that no such motion was adopted?

I assume you mean, when you say that you "know full well the motion was adopted", that you were present at the meeting and that it is your distinct recollection that the motion was adopted. In such a case, when the minutes are presented for approval, you should move that they be corrected to reflect the fact that this motion was adopted. If the assembly decides that your recollection is faulty, and that no such motion was adopted, then, having failed to win a majority to your view, perhaps you should gracefully submit to the judgment of the assembly. Maybe you're wrong. Maybe I was also present at the meeting, and I know full well that no such motion was adopted.

There are, of course, all sorts of other things that you can do to attempt to correct what you regard as a mistake (or, worst case scenario, fraud or bad faith), but the bottom line, at least for the present, is that as far as the assembly is concerned no such motion was adopted.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Joshua Katz said:

So what am I to do if I know full well the motion was adopted?  What is the effect of the assembly agreeing that no such motion was adopted?

We all believe you but there are many occasions where something like what you posted in your second paragraph here http://robertsrules.forumflash.com/index.php?/topic/30016-presidents-authority-to-allownot-allow-vote/#comment-173661  happens and no one realizes a motion was even made much less agreed to.  Hopefully there's just an honest disagreement but as noted, the assembly is going to have its way in the end.

 

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So if a motion is passed, those opposed can, before the next meeting, call their friends, who are also opposed, and let them know that, while there will be no effort to rescind (requiring notice), they intend, by a majority vote, to overturn that motion, simply by taking it out of the minutes?  They can, by giving this pseudo-notice only to the right people, gain a temporary majority that is not representative of the body.  Meanwhile, I, who acted in reliance on the motion between meetings, turn out to have acted at my own risk, because history is altered at the next meeting?  

None of that sounds right to me, or, at least, it isn't what I'd like to see happen.  

I suppose I don't see what it adds to say that failure to include the motion in the minutes doesn't mean it didn't happen if such a thing is going to be allowed.  Nor do I see what it adds to say people shouldn't be dishonest, if dishonesty is rewarded.

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41 minutes ago, Joshua Katz said:

So if a motion is passed, those opposed can, before the next meeting, call their friends, who are also opposed, and let them know that, while there will be no effort to rescind (requiring notice), they intend, by a majority vote, to overturn that motion, simply by taking it out of the minutes?  They can, by giving this pseudo-notice only to the right people, gain a temporary majority that is not representative of the body.  Meanwhile, I, who acted in reliance on the motion between meetings, turn out to have acted at my own risk, because history is altered at the next meeting?  

None of that sounds right to me, or, at least, it isn't what I'd like to see happen.  

I suppose I don't see what it adds to say that failure to include the motion in the minutes doesn't mean it didn't happen if such a thing is going to be allowed.  Nor do I see what it adds to say people shouldn't be dishonest, if dishonesty is rewarded.

Ah, so now we have an organization full of bogeymen, all of them up to no good and determined to do you harm. 

I suggest you resign your membership as soon as possible. :)

 

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1 hour ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Ah, so now we have an organization full of bogeymen, all of them up to no good and determined to do you harm. 

I suggest you resign your membership as soon as possible. :)

 

And then, just to twist the knife in, they will accept his resignation but not record the acceptance in the minutes. :)

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1 hour ago, Daniel H. Honemann said:

Ah, so now we have an organization full of bogeymen, all of them up to no good and determined to do you harm. 

I suggest you resign your membership as soon as possible. :)

 

Not a bad suggestion; I have suggested it on one occasion.

Hopefully the meeting was taped.  I have read about one case where that did occur. 

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3 hours ago, Joshua Katz said:

So if a motion is passed, those opposed can, before the next meeting, call their friends, who are also opposed, and let them know that, while there will be no effort to rescind (requiring notice), they intend, by a majority vote, to overturn that motion, simply by taking it out of the minutes?  They can, by giving this pseudo-notice only to the right people, gain a temporary majority that is not representative of the body.  Meanwhile, I, who acted in reliance on the motion between meetings, turn out to have acted at my own risk, because history is altered at the next meeting?  

None of that sounds right to me, or, at least, it isn't what I'd like to see happen.  

I suppose I don't see what it adds to say that failure to include the motion in the minutes doesn't mean it didn't happen if such a thing is going to be allowed.  Nor do I see what it adds to say people shouldn't be dishonest, if dishonesty is rewarded.

If this is, as you say, "a temporary majority that is not representative of the body," then the assembly can fix its minutes at the next meeting, and also adopt a motion to appoint an investigative committee.

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On 5/1/2017 at 5:32 AM, Daniel H. Honemann said:

This question in PL merely asks if it is in order to move, while minutes are pending for approval, "to strike out a portion that may be thought best not to have entered in the minutes". General Robert's response, however, seems to assume that the question refers to a motion to deliberately strike from the minutes a resolution or order which was, in fact, adopted. He appears to say that such a motion is in order, but that it will take a two-thirds vote for passage since the rules require that the adoption of the resolution or order be included in the minutes. In other words, I gather he is saying that the rule which requires that the adoption of the resolution or order be included in the minutes is a rule which can be suspended.

Yet Rescind And Expunge requires a majority of the membership which is a different voting standard (2/3, majority w/ notice or majority of membership) than Rescind.  Are you saying that provided I time it correctly I could accomplish the same thing as Rescind And Expunge but with only a 2/3 vote?

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1 hour ago, SaintCad said:

Yet Rescind And Expunge requires a majority of the membership which is a different voting standard (2/3, majority w/ notice or majority of membership) than Rescind.  Are you saying that provided I time it correctly I could accomplish the same thing as Rescind And Expunge but with only a 2/3 vote?

I would point out that Expunge is a larger part of that, which could account for the difference.

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3 hours ago, SaintCad said:

Yet Rescind And Expunge requires a majority of the membership which is a different voting standard (2/3, majority w/ notice or majority of membership) than Rescind.  Are you saying that provided I time it correctly I could accomplish the same thing as Rescind And Expunge but with only a 2/3 vote?

If you read the next paragraph of that post, it seems pretty clear that Dan is not saying that.

It appears that General Robert suggested in a particular instance that the assembly could accomplish an even greater effect than Rescind and Expunge by a 2/3 vote when the minutes were pending for approval. Rescind and Expunge still leaves the motion in the minutes, it simply expresses extreme disapproval. Striking something from the minutes removes it entirely.

I concur with Mr. Honemann and Mr. Gerber that this is not in order. The presumption in the answer seems to be that this may be accomplished by suspending the rules, but rules which have effect outside the current session may not be suspended. I'm not sure this limitation was fully fleshed out at the time PL was written (it does not appear to be explicitly mentioned in the section of PL on suspending the rules), which may account for this odd response.

Edited by Josh Martin

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4 hours ago, SaintCad said:

Yet Rescind And Expunge requires a majority of the membership which is a different voting standard (2/3, majority w/ notice or majority of membership) than Rescind.  Are you saying that provided I time it correctly I could accomplish the same thing as Rescind And Expunge but with only a 2/3 vote?

Welcome back, SaintCad. :)

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