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Josh Martin

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  1. Josh Martin

    Voting by the Chair

    Questions regarding the interpretation of applicable law are beyond the scope of this forum.
  2. Josh Martin

    Voting on a Bylaw Amendment

    As noted previously, a motion to amend the bylaws is a special form of a motion to Amend Something Previously Adopted, which is itself an incidental main motion, so it’s an incidental main motion regardless. Why do you ask?
  3. I concur, however, with such a small board, such evidence may not be difficult to obtain. If all five members were present (and none abstained), for instance, there would be no difference between a majority vote and a vote of the entire membership, and it already appears to be an accepted fact that the motion was adopted by majority vote.
  4. As has been previously stated, the board is free to amend the motion to change where the money will go.
  5. Yes, an organization is free to place a rule of this nature in its bylaws.
  6. Josh Martin


    It is generally not in order to have discussion without a motion pending. If the assembly has nonetheless decided to do so, then yes, the discussion could be postponed (not tabled) to the end of the meeting. Committees appointed by the membership would generally report to the membership, but the membership may instruct the committee to report to the Executive Committee if it wishes. The Executive Committee may not itself approve the amendments to the bylaws unless the bylaws grant it such power, but it could in turn recommend the amendments to the Board of Directors (if there is one), and then the membership, refer the amendments back to the bylaws committee, or amend the amendments as it saw fit.
  7. No, of course not (unless, of course, the motion is out of order for some reason, in which case the chair should rule it out of order and provide his reasoning). See RONR, 11th ed., pgs. 449-450, item 4. As noted above, the chair does not have the right to deny motions, except to rule them out of order when that is in fact the case. When you say that the chair has “refused to bring motions before the assembly,” please clarify exactly what the chair does in these cases. If the chair rules the motion out of order, then it is proper to raise an appeal. See RONR, 11th ed., pgs. 255-260. If the chair does something else, see the pages Mr. Geiger has cited.
  8. Josh Martin

    Changes to motion after notice is given

    I am not convinced by this idea that absentees (even unusually confident ones) have any rights at all with respect to the process by which the motion is considered, even though this could affect the outcome in limited circumstances. It seems to me that whether the motion is made as $40 and then amended or made as $50 and then amended makes no difference at all with respect to the rights of absentees, so long as $40 and $50 are within the scope of notice.
  9. Josh Martin

    Changes to motion after notice is given

    There is no problem between the analogy between withdrawal and modification of a motion by the mover (and no, there is not a case where one is permitted and the other is not). The problem is in the analogy between withdrawing (or modifying) a motion and between withdrawing (or modifying) a notice, or alternately (as the original question asked) making a motion which differs in some respect from what is included in the notice. At this time, no motion has as of yet been made, so there is not yet a motion for anyone to own. A notice may not be withdrawn if it is too late for another member to give notice. By the same token, one assumes that a notice may not be modified if it is too late for another member to give notice. The reason for this is that doing so limits other members’ rights to make the motion or to make amendments to it. If someone was able to withdraw a notice after it was too late for notice to be given, no member could then make the motion in question (or perhaps the voting threshold would be raised, depending on the specifics). Similarly, if a member gives notice that he intends to make a motion to raise dues to $50, but then modifies the notice to raise dues only to $40, no member could amend the motion, when it is made, to strike $40 and insert $50. (Conversely, increasing the amount of dues would also be problematic, as this would allow members to suggest a modest change and then “sneak in” a larger change with less than the required amount of notice, and this seems to be improper for the same reason that such an amendment would be improper at the meeting itself.) As a result, these practices are prohibited. The question that was asked, however, did not ask whether a member could change the notice, but instead asked whether a member could make a motion which differed from the notice. If a member gives notice that he will move to raise dues to $50, but then decides to move to raise dues only to $40, this does not affect other members’ rights in any way. The proposed motion is itself within the scope of the notice given, and members are also free to themselves propose to amend the motion to strike $40 and insert $50, since this amendment is still within the scope of notice. Additionally, so far as I am aware, there is no rule which requires that a motion be made exactly as stated in the notice. Based on all this, I am inclined to agree with Mr. Honemann that a member may make a motion which differs from the notice given, so long as the motion is within the scope of notice.
  10. How do other units of your party handle such matters? I rather doubt that this problem is unique to this county. Personally, I think voting cards is the best option (since it seems that separate seating, which in my experience is the usual solution, is not desired). Given the size of the assembly, it may be best to adopt some of the tactics normally used with conventions. A "credentials committee" of sorts could be responsible for printing, distributing, and collecting the voting cards. The table for the committee should be placed at the entrance to the meeting hall.
  11. This is in reference to the discussion started in this thread. The responses generally agree that a Point of Order and Appeal regarding a recently discovered lack of quorum could be applied to actions taken earlier in the meeting (subject to the clear and convincing proof rule) even although the meeting is presently without a quorum, on the grounds that this relates to the conduct of the meeting while it remains without a quorum. I added that such action could also be taken at a later meeting, and then added that: ”I would also suggest that regardless of the determination by the inquorate meeting, this does not prevent a Point of Order (and an Appeal, if necessary) from being raised again at a later meeting with a quorum present.” Mr. Honemann suggested that this comment warranted further discussion, and I agree. My reasoning behind this comment was as follows: There is, in my view, no issue with the fact that this point has been previously decided, since the decision was made at an inquorate meeting, and therefore, no decision has properly been made by the assembly. As a practical matter, it would be problematic if this were not the case, since otherwise a small number of members could simply declare that a quorum was present (even if it clearly was not), or alternately, a small number of members could declare that a quorum was not present for earlier actions they disagreed with (even if it clearly was). I will concede that if there has previously been a determination made that a quorum was present, this somewhat raises the bar for the “clear and convincing proof” required to show that a quorum was not present, but I still think such a point could be raised.
  12. Josh Martin

    What determines a "New Board's" officers?

    Please quote exactly what your bylaws say on this subject.
  13. If this is in fact the extent of the allegations against the member, then I believe the board could proceed to censure the board member without formal disciplinary procedures if it wished to do so. As noted, the board could instead choose to censure the COO. No doubt, but it appears that the COO also alleged that the board member was disrespectful to the staff member. I do not think it is preposterous to suggest that this could be a valid basis for discipline, if this claim is correct. It will ultimately be up to the board to decide.
  14. To censure is merely to express the board’s disapproval. I see no reason why the board would not have the authority to adopt such a motion. Yes, but members have a right to not have charges brought against them except with good cause, and the formal disciplinary procedures exist for this reason as well. It is of course possible to censure a member without formal disciplinary procedures, but depending on what is contained in this 15 page document, those allegations may not have been proper. It would not be proper, for instance, to censure a member for graft without formal disciplinary procedures. (RONR, 11th ed., pgs. 657-658) No, this would be a terrible idea, since this leaves it up to someone’s judgment (the chair?) to determine whether something is a “routine matter” or a “true emergency.” If the assembly disapproves of such “gotcha” tactics, the assembly is free to postpone any motions arising from it, or simply to vote it down. Depending on what exactly was contained in this document, the COO himself could perhaps be subject to discipline. It should also be noted that while previous notice is not required for disciplinary procedures, there are multiple steps in this process, the first of which is to appoint an investigative committee, and the resolution to form such a committee must avoid specific allegations as much as possible. Indeed, the requirements for formal disciplinary procedures are much more onerous than previous notice requirements. I would read Section 63 of RONR for more details. If censure is all that is desired, however, it may be possible to avoid formal disciplinary procedures, depending on the nature of the allegations against the member.
  15. Josh Martin

    Do customs ever become rules?

    Neither has become a rule. Customs do not become a rule merely because of the passage of time. A custom nonetheless should be followed if it does not conflict with a written rule, unless the assembly chooses to do otherwise in a particular case. With that said, you should formally adopt RONR as soon as possible. If you also wish to continue the custom of prohibiting self-nominations, you will need to formally adopt that as well, since this custom conflicts with RONR. I think this would require a rule at least on the level of a special rule of order, and possibly even a a rule on the bylaws.
  16. It seems to me that a Request for Information could be used to ask a question of a nonmember, however, if a member of the assembly objected, a vote would need to be taken. Since a response to a a Request for Information is not debate, however, I think a majority vote would be sufficient.
  17. Josh Martin

    President influences decisions

    I concur with Mr. Katz that no rule in RONR prevents the President from attempting to influence members outside of a meeting. When the meeting itself arrives and the issue is debated further and voted on, the President should maintain the appearance of impartiality while presiding, unless it will be a meeting of a committee or small board (not more than about a dozen members present), in which event the chairman is free to speak in debate. If the assembly feels that the President’s campaigning on this matter has critically undermined his appearance of impartiality, the rules may be suspended by a 2/3 vote to remove him from the chair. Has a decision been made yet? I was under the impression that no vote has yet been taken.
  18. Josh Martin

    Attendees who feel intimidated

    The assembly may adopt standing rules on this matter if it wishes. It would violate no parliamentary rule to do so.
  19. Josh Martin

    Agenda control for rowdy meetings

    No, these facts, in and of themselves, do not suggest that the motions in question are dilatory. In regard to motions adopted at previous meetings, motions to Rescind or to Amend Something Previously Adopted are in order, although there are special rules for adopting such motions. It is not possible for a motion to be on the agenda for a future meeting, since the agenda is set at the meeting itself. The mere fact that it is intended or desirable to consider a motion at a later meeting does not prevent a motion from being made. A motion could be ruled out of order if the assembly had already postponed the motion (or a very similar motion) to the next meeting or if the bylaws specified that the matter be considered at a particular meeting. It is not clear which of these scenarios the phrase “calendar sensitive” is referring to. I also would note that (except in a committee or small board), debate without a motion pending is not in order, so that may cut down on some “soapboxing” and “grandstanding.” If the assembly finds that it needs to further control such matters, it may adopt appropriate special rules of order. As I have previously noted, the membership itself has the power to adopt a rule of this nature by a 2/3 vote with previous notice or a vote of a majority of the entire membership. The board, however, may not impose such rules on the membership.
  20. Josh Martin

    Board of Directors Decision/Action

    It seems to me, however, that the sentence “The measure, not the member, is the subject of debate.” is crucial in interpreting the meaning of the rule and, therefore, the rule may not be fully applicable if a member is the subject of debate. If a motion is made to censure a board member or to remove him from office for some action he has taken, it seems to me that why the member took that action is absolutely germane to the question.
  21. Josh Martin

    nomination and election

    I concur with Mr. Wynn that the election may be continued at the next meeting, however, I would note that the practice of asking the secretary to cast the assembly’s vote when a candidate is elected by acclamation is, at best, antiquated and unnecessary (and at worst, is a horrendous violation of members’ rights). If the bylaws do not require a ballot vote, or require a ballot vote but provide an exception when an election is uncontested, the President simply declares the candidate elected. There is no need for the Secretary to write the name on a piece of paper. On the other hand, if the bylaws require a ballot vote and do not provide any exceptions, than a ballot vote must be taken. Having the Secretary alone cast a ballot does not satisfy this requirement.
  22. Josh Martin


    I concur with my colleagues and would add that there appears to be confusion regarding the proper use of the motion to Lay on the Table. See FAQ #12. The bylaws committee, of course, has no authority to postpone or table the motion. The assembly itself could have decided to postpone the motion due to the absence of the bylaws committee chairman, but was under no obligation to do so. Additionally, it is not required, strictly speaking, to provide copies of the proposed bylaw amendments, but this is generally desirable because if such copies are not provided, the amendments must be read in their entirety. (They still must be read in their entirety if a member demands it, even if copies are provided, but members may be willing to forego the reading if they have copies.) Providing copies only upon request, in my view, is not sufficient - in such a case, the amendments still must be read.
  23. So far as RONR is concerned, to adopt a report (and “approve” is a synonym of adopt) means to endorse every word of the report as the assembly’s own statement, such as when the report is to be published in the assembly’s name. When this is done (which is rare), it is ordinarily done in regard to a report for information only. When a report contains recommendations, generally one or more motions are made to adopt those recommendations. I would assume that if a report which also contains recommendations was adopted in full, this would have the effect of endorsing every word of the report as the society’s own statement and adopting all recommendations contained within the report, although the text is not entirely clear on this point. As others have indicated, however, many assemblies have an unfortunate custom of regularly “approving” reports for no apparent reason. If such a custom exists for this assembly, there may be some doubt as to the effect of this motion. I advise reading RONR, 11th ed., pgs. 506-508 for more information on this subject.
  24. Josh Martin

    Board of Directors Decision/Action

    I am not certain of this sweeping admonition against addressing the board members’ motives. It is of course correct that if the decision before the assembly is whether to rescind the action, or whether to ratify the action, or whether the board has the authority to take the action in question, then it is of course inappropriate to question the motives of the board members. The motion (or the rules), not the board members, is the subject of debate. If a motion is made to censure the board members or remove them from office, however, then I think their motives may well be germane to those questions. Since in this instance the board members themselves are the subject of the motion, the rule against questioning the motives of a motion maker does not apply. Caution must still be applied, however, as the rules of decorum are still in force.