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Joshua Katz

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About Joshua Katz

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    RP, Formerly Godelfan

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  1. Ultimately, only your organization can interpret your bylaws via a point of order and appeal. In my personal opinion, which is worth the paper it's not written on, "[a[ll" suggests that anyone not following these procedures may not be elected.
  2. Is the concern that this will impact the selling price of the home? That's a tricky business. A conflict of interest is a personal or pecuniary interest in matters to be decided not held in common with the other members. A person who is selling a unit, and whose price is therefore impacted by certain decisions has an interest, to be sure. But other members have the same interest - they like good property values, too. On the other hand, this person has a stronger interest in high values, for two reasons. First, money now is better than money later, and since this person will cash in their unit value now, it matters more to them. Second, everyone else will pay taxes for, presumably, some length of time on the property value. This individual is selling and thus will stop paying property tax, presumably before an assessment. Then there's a third issue. If the HOA considers, say, putting in a capital improvement and borrowing the money, it would enhance property values now, but be paid by future owners, i.e. not the selling owner. But there's yet another issue. As a board member, this individual represents a constituency. As was discussed at the recent National Leadership Conference, voters who represent a constituency should not abstain unless they must. So this member cannot act with an abundance of caution in this case. Nonetheless, the question of what issues she should recuse on is fact-dependent. I would think the member should consider the above issues, and, more generally, decide whether a particular issue before the board raises concerns for her that are not held in common with the others, and that constitute a personal or pecuniary interest. (An example of a personal interest would arise, for instance, if the board considered restraints on alienation.) In any case, so far as the rules in RONR are concerned, the member cannot be compelled to recuse.
  3. Seems that way, and it makes sense to me how each one plays out in this context. I agree, but would treat this as akin to a different culture. Theater people always strike me as having their own culture, actually - I shared a house with some in college and it was weird.
  4. No, but the minutes will still be there for approval when the organization again meets. And, because it's often asked, the motions adopted are perfectly valid and in force even if approval is delayed. For the future, though, it might be a good idea, as RONR suggests, to instead appoint, at the annual meeting, a minutes approval committee, or authorize the board to approve the minutes. Or, even better, to adopt a rule to that effect.
  5. They could. But it's also the case that Congress could (maybe) outlaw things American society considers rude, but it generally doesn't. (I say generally because there's a scene in Silence of the Lambs where Clarisse mentions that Hannibal would consider eating her to be rude, and that happens to be illegal. (Not legal advice.)) Manners are often seen as something above and beyond rules. We're not obligated not to be rude - and, as I mentioned, I'm not convinced that we ought not to be rude, although it's a handy rule of thumb. The only reason we keep our elbows off the table is a desire not to be rude, or maybe to get a job or a second date or whatever. So suppose an organization is a culturally-specific one, and a certain thing is rude in that culture but not in American culture. They could, of course, adopt a special rule of order (or standing rule, depending on the details, or a bylaw) prohibiting it, or they could rely on their common cultural understanding and simply not do it because it's rude. In fact, they may prefer the latter course, because usually, we prefer to enforce manners with social sanctions, not points of order. And most people, I think, recognize that there are times when it is appropriate to be rude. It doesn't cease to be rude. Consider being a census taker and knocking on Hannibal's door. When he pulls out the Chianti and fava beans, you might interrupt him and then run off while he's talking. That's rude, but you have a good reason to do it.
  6. I agree with both statements, but I also think the common, erroneous interpretation makes more sense. The fundamental rule, we're told, is that a majority acts. Yet the understanding in RONR of what a negative result means allows fewer than a majority (i.e. exactly half) to expressly decide something.
  7. Interesting! Thanks. (Note that this is slightly different, though - if someone is present and does not vote, it's counted as a no, whereas UM only counted as a no a person who expressly abstained. I can understand that bylaw far better than I could understand what UM did.) Of course, the big difference is that you have a bylaw to that effect. If UM wanted to adopt such a bylaw, I would have no complaint. Well, I might complain that it's a bad idea, but who cares what I think? The problem here is the lack of a rule justifying it, and the reference to, for some reason, the 10th edition of RONR. I, too wonder if voting thresholds based on number present are more common in Canada than here. As I recall, we've seen a few things that are commonly done differently in Canada, so it wouldn't shock me.
  8. I was just curious if anyone had followed the drama around the vote of no confidence in the university President. The only customized rule I've seen quoted specified that the motion needed more than 50% of all voting (I'm not sure if that's the actual language or a newspaper summary). The motion received more votes for than against, but the presiding officer ruled that it was lost because the number of votes for were not greater than, as he put it, half the total number of votes, including abstentions(!). Note that he didn't turn it into a majority of the entire membership, or a majority of those present, because he distinguished those who expressly abstained from those who didn't vote (a contradiction in terms). So the effect of saying nothing was nothing, but the effect of expressly abstaining was to vote no. It seems the idea was that an abstention may not be a vote, but a person who abstains is still a person voting - a pretzel I cannot begin to untangle. It seems there was a lot of discussion, but no appeal. The bylaws specify "Robert's Rules" as the parliamentary authority. This led to further controversy (although pointless because it doesn't impact this case) as to which edition to refer to, which suggests they don't do so very often. For some reason, someone in some position of authority decided that the proper book was the 10th edition. 😞 The board then said they were looking into it and may well change their minds and consider the motion as having passed, which seems like more misunderstandings and mistakes on multiple levels.
  9. I am not convinced that this action is rude, supremely or not. However, I disagree with the above as applied here, because RONR is not a culture or group. I see no reason something can't be rude within, say, American society, which has its own rules and norms, yet permitted in RONR. (Whether or not a person ought to do it is yet another question.) Plus, RONR is always used within a group, which may well have its own cultural expectations.
  10. Hi Alicia! Sure. But I think my question as to the point of this rule still stands - just because we can circumvent it doesn't mean it's not pointless. In fact, it suggests it is. Why have a rule that requires people to do things in a more complicated way? The way I asked if, I would hope that the point is not to get it into the minutes, since, in the rare organization that takes proper minutes, what is said in debate wouldn't appear.
  11. As a general rule, you can do pretty much anything by putting it in your bylaws. Your bylaws outrank RONR. At the same time, RONR does contain many suggestions as to good things to put in (or not), and you deviate from them at your peril. But you still can. I have no idea what this member means. RONR says you need a presiding officer and a recording officer. And yes, the membership should enforce its rules and expect honorable conduct from the Board. But I don't see what follows.
  12. This is incorrect. Amendments seeking the reverse the meaning of the original motion are sometimes germane and in order. If I remember correctly (I may not), the example I gave is the one RONR uses. But, regardless, the test for an amendment is whether or not it is germane, and a "reversal" will often be germane.
  13. Joshua Katz


    Why was it called improper (presumably, out of order)? Was there an appeal made? I'm not clear that there was a violation at all. Most likely, it is too late to address it, but I don't see anything preventing the motion from being made again, if you think the chair's ruling was incorrect, and appealing the chair's decision that it's out of order, assuming the chair so rules again.
  14. How did they get in there? They must have come from somewhere. Who adopted them? If not, what is the basis for this expectation?
  15. I suspect this is likely true. So is this a parliamentary argument or a legal one? If it's a legal question, you should listen to your attorney. The answers here are only applicable if the issue is what RONR says about something. I am also confused.
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