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Josh Martin

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  1. If the organization has its own rules on discipline, it is not clear to me to what extent the rules in RONR on this matter are relevant. For what it is worth, however, RONR provides that the assembly itself makes these decisions by adopting a resolution on such matters at the outset of the trial. "At any time before the commencement of the trial with the first of the "preliminary steps" described below, the assembly may, by majority vote, adopt a resolution to govern the trial specifying details not inconsistent with the procedures described here. The resolution may include an agenda that establishes times for portions of the trial, such as time limits for opening and closing statements. If time limits are imposed, they must allow the defense at least equal time for each element of the trial as that allowed the managers, and this rule may not be suspended without the consent of the defense." RONR (12th ed.) 63:32 For the resolutions following the trial relating to the assembly's decisions on the member's guilt and the penalty, the ordinary rules for debate are in effect, although the assembly may adjust those as needed by a 2/3 vote, as usual.
  2. If it is in fact correct that RONR is not the assembly's parliamentary authority, then it is at the assembly's discretion to determine its own procedures, including on such matters as determining the successor in the event of a vacancy in the office of chair. The chair alone cannot make that decision, but if the assembly is willing to back him on it, then that is the decision that will be made. Whether this is "ethical" is a matter of opinion.
  3. A motion of no confidence simply expresses the assembly's view that it has no confidence in whatever is named in the motion. While such a motion is customarily used in regard to a person or group, I see no reason why it is necessarily limited to those things. I am in agreement with Mr. Novosielski, however, that there are likely more productive solutions.
  4. "When a vote is being taken, no interruption is permitted from the time that any member has actually voted until all have presumably voted, unless as sometimes occurs in ballot voting, other business is being conducted during voting." RONR (12th ed.) 45:6
  5. Okay. The President, if a member, has a right to make motions, but refrains from doing so while presiding in order to preserve the appearance of impartiality. As noted previously, the committee and small board rules are more relaxed on this matter. Those rules permit the chair to make motions. See FAQ #1. I am unable to find a citation explicitly stating that the chair does not make motions while presiding (although I may have missed it), but it seems a reasonable conclusion to draw from RONR (12th ed.) 47:55 (which says the parliamentarian follows the same rules of impartiality as the chair, including not making motions), the small board rules in 49:21 (which provide that the chair may make motions while presiding under the small board rules, implying that this is ordinarily not an option), and the general principles and rules relating to the chair's requirement to maintain the appearance of impartiality. There is also the fact that RONR elaborates on a procedure for the chair to "assume" a motion when needed to facilitate the business of the assembly (referred to in several cases throughout RONR), and it would seem unnecessary to create such a procedure if the chair was able to simply make motions.
  6. No, and in fact the exact procedure you describe could not be done even with a ballot vote. If a motion is made several times, then it is a new motion each time it is made. The polls could be held open for multiple meetings for a ballot vote, but the motion would only be made once in such a case. This could not be done for other types of votes. For one thing, most methods of voting (a rising vote, etc.) don't track whether individual members have voted. More importantly, the rules do not permit conducting other business during voting, except in the case of a ballot vote.
  7. In regard to the President voting, the rules for which Mr. Brown has explained, see FAQ #1. In addition, see RONR (12th ed.) 44:12, 49:21. In regard to the President seconding a motion, the President should not second a motion while presiding, for the following reasons: 1) The purpose of a second is to act as a guide for the chair in whether to state a motion. The chair also has the option to state the question on a motion without a second if needed to facilitate the assembly's business. See RONR (12th ed.) 4:9-14. 2) Conversely, in order to maintain the chair's appearance of impartiality, the chair should not second a motion if the only reason to do so is due to the chair's own opinions of the motion. This is for the same reasons that the chair of a large assembly does not make motions, speak in debate, or vote (with exceptions for the last one). 3) The relaxed rules for a committee or small board do not require the chair to maintain the appearance of impartiality, however, those rules also do not require motions to be seconded.
  8. Yes, unless the organization's rules provide otherwise. For a public body, however, it seems very possible they would provide otherwise. No, at least so far as RONR is concerned. I suppose the board could, however, ultimately accomplish the same objective by removing the Vice President from their new office as Chair, and then electing a person of their choice, although this may depend upon the board's rules and/or applicable law for removal of officers, or if those rules are silent, it would depend upon the wording of the term of office. Since it appears no one but the Vice President wanted the Vice President to serve as chair, it seems likely this is what would have ultimately occurred. The town attorney is presumably more familiar with the board's rules (and any applicable laws) than I am, so I do not think I am in a position to question his advice on this matter. I would note that there is nothing particularly wrong with the fact that the chair was making the motion to appoint his successor. If not for the rules in RONR which provide that the Vice President becomes President in the event of a vacancy, the procedure you described would violate no rule in RONR. I'm not sure the town board posting "a Robert Rules cheat sheet" is quite the same as the town adopting Robert's Rules of Order as its parliamentary authority. To the extent that the town board has adopted Robert's Rules of Order as its parliamentary authority, it is correct that under those rules, the Vice President becomes President in the event of a vacancy in that office. Yes, I quite understand that, but the town presumably has something that is the equivalent of bylaws, which defines the basic structure of the town's government. That may be in the nature of a local document such as a "town charter," or such rules may be prescribed generally for towns in state law.
  9. My own view of it is that the best solution is not to list the names at all so you don't have to deal with these questions. If the organization disagrees, it is free to list such names as it deems appropriate.
  10. In the long run, it would likely be best to amend the bylaws so it simply provides that RONR is the parliamentary authority for the church, period. That is the general manner in which such a provision is worded and clearly conveys that it is the authority for all of the organization's assemblies and committees. See also https://robertsrules.com/how-to-adopt/. Of course, this may take some time. The board and council could also adopt RONR as their parliamentary authority by the same vote required to adopt a special rule of order (see again the link above). Further, based upon the past practice on this subject as well as the fact that RONR is the authority for the congregation, I would think RONR could be viewed as highly persuasive by these assemblies. RONR has provisions on quorum. For groups with a defined membership, quorum is a majority of the organization's members unless otherwise defined. State law may also provide something on the subject of quorum. In any event, I am certainly in agreement that just making things up as you go along is a disaster waiting to happen and that RONR should be adopted as the parliamentary authority. If the organization wishes to authorize electronic meetings, provisions should be made for this in the bylaws, and appropriate rules should be adopted to support this.
  11. The President is correct. The window in which a member can change their vote is extremely limited. After the meeting is over, it's far too late. See RONR (12th ed.) 45:8-9. If the motion was adopted, a member could make a motion to Rescind the motion, which requires a 2/3 vote, a vote of a majority of the entire membership, or a majority vote for adoption. If the motion was defeated, a member could make the motion anew at the next meeting. But it is much too late for an individual member to change their vote on the original motion.
  12. I have no idea. This is not a question about RONR, but about your municipality's own rules. I suggest consulting the City Clerk or City Attorney on this matter.
  13. Well, you don't know that yet. They might still nominate this person. Or maybe this person will be nominated by petition. Sounds like you should amend your bylaws.
  14. Based upon the facts provided, I concur with Dr. Kapur that the assembly erred in permitting the President to cast his vote when he arrived after the polls had been closed. Since it is a fundamental principle of parliamentary law that the vote is limited to members who are present at the time of the vote, this constitutes a continuing breach. As a consequence, the proper result of the election was 3-2 in favor of the opponent, so no "run-off election" is necessary or appropriate. Since your bylaws only require "loose adherence of Robert's Rules" (whatever that means), I suppose it will ultimately be up to the assembly itself to interpret this matter. I would think the procedure should play out as follows: 1) If possible under your rules (and if the members in favor of this can get enough support to do so), the members who wish to have a "run-off election" should call a special meeting for that purpose. 2) At the special meeting, a member who supports this action would move to have a "run-off election" for the office of President. 3) I'm not entirely clear on whether the new officers have taken office yet. In either event, since both the outgoing President and the newly elected President clearly have an interest not in common with other members in this matter, it seems clear that this person should relinquish the chair to the Vice President to chair the meeting. 4) A member may raise a Point of Order that the motion for a run-off election is not in order, since the new President was properly elected, the late vote should not have been counted, and an election which has been completed may not be reconsidered or rescinded. 5) The chair may rule the point "well taken," meaning the chair agrees, or "not well taken," meaning the chair disagrees. The chair should provide the reasoning for the ruling. 6) A member may Appeal from the decision of the chair. If seconded, the decision is then in the hands of the assembly. After debate, the assembly votes on the question "Shall the decision of the chair be sustained?" A majority vote in the negative is required to overturn the chair's ruling. 7) When all is said and done, the assembly will then either move on (since the motion for a run-off election will have been determined to be out of order) or the assembly will consider the motion for a run-off election and, if that motion is adopted, will proceed to conduct the run-off election. In the event the "run-off election" is ultimately conducted, I would note that members may still vote for any eligible person. Members are not limited to voting for the top two candidates from the previous round, unless your bylaws so provide. Although since your bylaws again call only for "loose adherence of Robert's Rules," that may also be a question of interpretation.
  15. It is not correct that the board has "ultimate discretionary authority." The board is bound by the organization's rules, and is subordinate to the general membership. There are limitations on the ability to suspend the rules. No. Under the rules in RONR, the report of the nominating committee is not subject to approval or rejection. If members disagree with the committee's recommendations, the appropriate course of action is to nominate other persons. You say that your own rules "indicated that the report and slate from the committee must be presented to the board 1 month prior to elections. However, no additional procedure of acceptance, petition or motion to amend/reconvene is noted thereof/therein." Based on these facts, my conclusion would be that the presentation to the board is for information only. The board has no authority to decline the report of the nominating committee. The board could request that the nominating committee reconvene, although it will be up to the committee (and its chair) whether to grant that request. Additionally, since you say that "the chairperson of the nom committee is unilaterally appointed (per the bylaws) by our chairperson," this does mean the board's chair could appoint a new chair of the nominating committee "to fundamentally re-guide the committee." All of this could be done in the hope that the committee would choose to revise its own report. I would note, however, that the committee's decisions are ultimately determined by the committee itself (by majority vote), so replacing the chair alone may not change the committee's decisions. The chair will be just one member out of nine. I would also add that, while I take you at your word that the board wishes to take this action because it feels so strongly that one of the proposed nominees is someone "who the majority feels is overwhelmingly under-qualified and not fit to serve," the board's action in replacing the chair of the nominating committee immediately following the presentation of the committee's report is likely going to look extremely bad, and will likely be perceived as the board putting its thumb on the scale of the election. It could also set a precedent (in the general sense, not the parliamentary sense) that a board with less noble motives may pursue a similar action in the future if it simply does not like the nominees presented by the committee. I would strongly advise that you do not pursue this course of action and instead simply utilize the procedure in your bylaws to make additional nominations "by way of a ballot with 10 members in good-standing." If the majority of the organization feels as strongly about this matter as you suggest, obtaining that many members to nominate some other person should not be difficult.
  16. I would not go so far as to say that 14:12 prohibits postponing the election except under extreme circumstances. The text "on a stormy night when, although a quorum is present, the attendance is abnormally small" is just an example. Ultimately, it is at the assembly's discretion what circumstances warrant postponing the election. With that said, I personally agree that it is preferable to conduct the election with the available nominees. If the election remains incomplete, it is correct that the assembly could either 1) fix the time to which to adjourn and complete the election at its adjourned meeting, 2) adjourn the meeting and complete the election at its regular meeting in three months, or 3) adjourn the meeting, and at some point call a special meeting (if so authorized under your rules) for the purpose of completing the election. I would suggest the options which complete the election sooner would be preferable.
  17. Yes, the assembly may reopen nominations in between rounds of voting.
  18. If the bylaws require that "the fact that nominations for executive board positions would be taking place" must be "posted 15 days prior to the meeting," then this must be done. The fact that the violation occurred "without malice or forethought" is no defense. So it would seem to me the appropriate course of action would be to apologize profusely for the mistake and then postpone the nominations to the next regular meeting or to an adjourned meeting.
  19. What exactly do the bylaws say in regards to the term of office? Do they provide that officers serve for a fixed term (such as "two years") or do they provide that officers serve for "two years or until their successors are elected?" That makes a big difference. It will also be relevant what the bylaws say in regard to filling vacancies.
  20. Do you mean the minutes? That would seem to make more sense than the agenda. The minutes are the official record of the meeting. The agenda is simply the order in which business for the meeting is to be conducted. That might depend on the body's rules for this "Comments from the Membership" item on the agenda. RONR does not have a clear heading of that nature. I can certainly see a possibility that such a heading is reserved solely for comments. I concur with Dr. Kapur that the motion would ordinarily be made during New Business. The heading "Comments from the Membership" also makes me wonder if you are a member of the body that was meeting. Often a heading with that title is used to indicate that comments are being taken from people who are not members of the body that is meeting - for instance, a Board of Directors taking comments from the general membership of the organization. Only members of the body that is meeting have the right to make motions.
  21. "Rules contained in the bylaws (or constitution) cannot be suspended - no matter how large the vote in favor of doing so or how inconvenient the rule in question may be - unless the particular rule provides for its own suspension, or unless the rule properly is in the nature of a rule of order as described in 2:14." RONR (12th ed.) 25:8 "The first section of the article on meetings should fix the day on which regular meetings of the society are to be held - as by specifying, for example, "the first Friday of each month." If the words "unless otherwise ordered by the Society [or "Executive Board"]" are added, the date can be changed in an unusual circumstance, but only for that single meeting on that particular occasion, and not for a period of time including several meetings." RONR (12th ed.) 56:33
  22. As I understand the facts, the report was developed without a meeting of the committee and without ever seeking the input of one of the committee's members. If this is correct, the report is certainly not valid. "Except as noted in this paragraph, a report of a board or committee can contain only what has been agreed to by a majority vote at a regular or properly called meeting of which every member has been notified (or at an adjournment of one of these meetings) - where a quorum of the board or committee was present... In the case of a committee, however, if it is impractical to bring its members together for a meeting, the report of the committee can contain what has been agreed to by every one of its members. (See also Electronic Meetings, 9:30-36.)" RONR (12th ed.) 51:2 There also appears to be a suggestion that the report contains nominations of persons who are not eligible for office. Even if the report was not otherwise invalid, those nominations would not be valid. The member could raise a Point of Order, followed by an Appeal if necessary, that the report in question was not adopted by the committee - and for that matter, was never considered by the committee, and the member only learned of the report after the fact. Ordinarily, it would seem rather difficult to ascertain the facts on questions such as this, but if there are only two members of the committee and they are both present, it seems relatively easy. In my view, the point should be ruled "well taken" and the report should be declared not to be the valid report of the Nominating Committee, and the assembly could then proceed to take nominations from the floor. The nominations originally contained within the committee report (except those for ineligible persons) could be made from the floor. Well, that's correct, but I think that's somewhat understating the problem here. The problem here is that no meeting or communication between the members of the committee ever occurred. I think 51:2 is the most on-point citation for the issue at hand.
  23. A Point of Order regarding this matter would have had to be raised at the time.
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